The X-Alp Enduro IV did very well on a number of rides in the rooty terrain of Vermont, where laying down power and really pulling on the pedals is crucial in order to clear obstacles. I think the X-Alp Enduro IV’s carbon fiber reinforced shank has a lot to do with this. The shank is as stiff or slightly stiffer than that of the Mavic Alpine XL, and decidedly stiffer than the Teva Pivot’s or the Five Ten Maltese Falcon’s. I was able to really lay into a downward stroke and transfer all my power to the pedal with the X-Alp Enduro IV, despite the relatively roomy fit in the toe-box (which, again, might be less apparent in a smaller size).
Not surprisingly, these shoes are not as stiff as the SIDI Dominator, which I used for a long time. The Dominator is probably 15-25% stiffer overall than the X-Alp Enduro IV, but again, it isn’t designed so much with comfort and walkability in mind.
I was also able to test the X-Alp Enduro IV on a trip to Colorado where I pedaled some classic Boulder singletrack. The riding there definitely rewards a more consistent spin than East Coast trails, and I didn’t find any issues with the X-Alp Enduro IV in this terrain, either.
Unlike typical mountain bike shoes, or ‘modifed road shoes’ as I refer to them, the Enduro IV features a carbon rubber sole with fairly aggressive, yet rounded lugs that provide worlds more grip than the typical lugs found a shoe like the Sidi Dominator. The shank is stiff enough for most aggressive pedaling, yet the flexible heel and toe section still allow for a decent stride while walking. The fit of the Enduro IV works well while walking—the roomier toe box allows for some forefoot spread while hiking. I wouldn’t hesitate to take a short stroll to a viewpoint, or to grab it for a ride that calls for a longer hike a bike.
The carbon rubber compound on the X-Alp Enduro IV outer sole is definitely stiffer than the ContaGrip on the Mavic Alpine XLs, and is far stiffer than the Stealth S1 compound on the Five Ten Falcon. Since the Pivot is more of a skate-inspired shoe (flat sole, no lugs to speak of), it should go without saying that the X-Alp Enduro IV is more capable when it comes to hiking around the mountains.
I did notice more cleat-strike with the X-Alp Enduro IV compared to the Mavic Alpine XL or Teva Pivot. On flat surfaces and some rocky ledges, I could hear the Enduro IV’s cleats clicking and scraping. However, this didn’t affect my ability to walk down a rock face comfortably. As I planted the ball of my foot on the rock, I could hear the cleat strike, but the lugs around the cleat still gripped the rock.
At Walker Ranch in Boulder, I had a good chance to test out the shoe’s grip on a stair-step downhill section that alternated between crib-worked earth steps and large flat boulder steps. While not as absolutely sure-footed as a pair of hiking shoes, the X-Alp Enduro IV did really well here. I never slipped, the cleat never made enough contact to break the sole’s traction with the rock, and my heel was well-anchored in the shoe.
Considering how stiff the rubber on the X-Alp Enduro IV is, the shape of the lugs on its tread is somewhat odd; they’re more rounded than what you typically see on hiking or trail running shoes. And shoes that have more rounded lugs on their tread typically use softer/stickier compounds than what’s on the X-Alp Enduro IV. The X-Alp Enduro IV might benefit from a slightly softer rubber compound on the sole to be even stickier on rock ledges and steps, though, to be clear, they do quite well as is.
While I appreciate the X-Alp Enduro IVs more rounded lugs since they seem to help scrambling around on rocks, I typically prefer a shoe’s tread to have some sharp edges (like that of the Mavic Alpine XL), as they provide traction when walking around in mud and soft dirt. I still need to evaluate this aspect of the X-Alp Enduro IV’s performance, and will update this review as soon as I’m able to.
If you live in a dry alpine climate and don’t expect to be riding/hiking in damp, muddy conditions, then you may have all the information you need at this point, and the X-Alp Enduro IV will likely be a great option for you.
Comparisons: Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV vs. Mavic Alpine XL vs. Teva Pivot
Fit: Lowest Volume to Highest Volume
• Teva Pivot – lowest volume
• Mavic Alpine XL – medium volume
• Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV – highest volume (I was sent the shoe in a size that was too large for me, but I still stand by this volume statement. Sizing being equal, I still feel the toe box on the Enduro IV is definitely roomier than that of these other shoes).
• Mavic Alpine XL – as noted above, the 3/4 shank and softer sole help here.
• Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV – this is a close second. While still suitable for a hiking around here and there, the X-Alp’s full length shank doesn’t allow for quite the same level of comfort as the Alpine XL’s shorter shank.
• Teva Pivot – This is subjective, but the Pivot has more of a skate-shoe tread, while the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV has more of a hiking shoe pattern. Both the Pearl Izumi and the Teva are certainly comfortable, but I’ll give the nod to the Pearl Izumi for the “better” tread pattern.
Pedaling Performance / Power
• Mavic Alpine XL – The Mavic and the Pearl Izumi ar nearly equal in this category, and one may prove to be better than the other depending how each shoe fits your foot. While the shank on the Pearl Izumi feels slightly stiffer than the Mavic, which in turn should increase its pedaling performance, the Mavic fit my foot better, which yielded better pedaling power. Had I been in a smaller size Enduro IV, I think I could have achieved a more precise fit like that of the Mavic, increasing its overall pedaling performance. However, even with the roominess of the Enduro IVs I tested, I would still say the two are almost equal in terms of pedaling power.
• Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV – Yep, as you just read, I’d call it pretty much a tie for 1st.
• Teva Pivot – While the Mavic and the Pearl Izumi were close, the Pivot comes in at a distant 3rd for me. (Still, this is a very good skate-style shoe, so don’t rule it out if that’s what you are in the market for.)
Relative to other walkable trail shoes, the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV is at least as stiff and as powerful driving a pedal as the Mavic Alpine XL, and more so than the Teva Pivot and the Five Ten Maltese Falcon. It has a more aggressive tread than the Pivot, and sticks to rocky ledges as well as the Alpine XL and the Maltese Falcon, despite its sometimes noticeable cleat-strike.
For now, I’d say that the X-Alp Enduro IV is one of the best walkable trail shoes I’ve tested. In terms of sheer pedaling performance, it’s not going to match the performance and the tight fit of a shoe like the SIDI Dominator, but the Enduro IV is designed with walkability in mind, which places it in a different class of shoe.
I suspect that the X-Alp Enduro IV will do well when it comes to walking around on muddy, loose soil, even with its more rounded lugs. I’ll update this review when I can speak to that aspect of its performance.