Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 Shoe Review

Pearl Izumi EM Road N0

Pearl Izumi EM Road N0

One of my favorite shoes over the last 3 or 4 months has been the Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 – an extremely lightweight, flexible racing flat utilizing the E:MOTION midsole. Pearl Izumi describe their midsole as follows:

A simply shaped midsole designed to deliver a smooth running experience.

Having racked up several hundred miles in two of Pearl Izumi’s other E:MOTION shoes – the Road N1 and the Trail N1 – I’d say this is a pretty good descriptor.

The Road N0 is a great example of less is more. My size 9.5 weighed in at just 6.5oz, making it one one of the lightest shoes in my current rotation. However, just because it’s light, doesn’t mean that it’s a harsh ride – the Road N0 delivers a smooth, responsive ride with a perfect balance of cushioning and comfort. The upper is seamless in construction and hugs the foot like your favorite slipper. In fact, the synthetic mesh upper and padded tongue are so comfortable I’ve successfully completed several sockless runs in the Road N0 with zero blisters or hot spots – quite a rarity for me.

The sole is approximately 80% exposed midsole with the other 20% coming from two “strips” of blown rubber (see photo below) – one in the forefoot and one in the heel area. The combination makes for a very flexible shoe with just enough firmness for the ride. Traction is excellent for a racing flat and after 70+ miles, durability seems to be pretty good.

Another thing I love about the sole – no drainage holes like one of my other favorite racing flats, the Saucony Grid Type A5. To be honest, I’ve never really understood those holes; they may shave an ounce or two off the final shoe weight, but (a) they let in far too much water during rainy conditions, making for soggy socks and potential blisters, and (b) during drier conditions you’re almost guaranteed to pick up numerous stones/rocks in at least one of the 18 drainage holes.

Pearl Izumi EM Road N0

Pearl Izumi EM Road N0

Back to the Road N0. The fit is fantastic, with just enough width in the forefoot compared to many of the typically narrow racing flats on the market. The heel cup is soft and flexible, and in my opinion, just the right height for zero irritation. Most of my runs in the Road N0 have been in the six to eight mile range, but I have logged a windy, solo 5K time trial in just over 18 minutes and completed a brisk 10 mile run on the local roads. I’m thinking of testing them out at the fast & flat Dismal Swamp Stomp 1/2 Marathon this coming weekend, but haven’t completely made up my mind. Watch this space…

The Road N0 are available in the Black/Mykonos Blue colorway (pictured above), or a Fiery Red/Black option. Both are sharp looking shoes and are bound to attract some attention at the local race scene.

Finally, one thing that is a bit confusing, is figuring out one of the first questions asked by a potential shoe-buyer; the heel-to-toe drop of the Road N0. Pearl Izumi quotes a Dynamic Offset of 1mm at initial contact to 4.5mm at mid-stance (what does this mean?), but I much prefer the common sense measurements from King of the Calipers, Peter Larson, of fame. Peter, in his excellent review of the Road N0, states that:

The N0 is pretty much a straight-up 6mm drop shoe. I measure stack at about 22mm in the heel, 16mm in the forefoot.

That’s good enough for me! By the way, Peter loves the Pearl Izumi EM Road N0, which is probably about the best recommendation one can get.

Here’s what Pearl Izumi have to say about their most minimalistic road style to date:

From the Pearl Izumi website:
Our lightest weight and most minimalistic road style, the new Road N0 is designed for the bio-mechanically efficient runner seeking that sweet spot of cushioning plus connection to the ground. A barely there seamless upper and a silky smooth E:MOTION midsole make the N0 feel slipper-like, light and flexible. In turn, you’ll feel smooth as butter as you flow through those speed workouts, tempo runs and shorter distance races.

Weight–Size 9: 6.0 oz/170g

Let me know if you have any questions about the Road N0, or feel free to leave a comment about any of the other shoes Pearl Izumi are selling right now.

The Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 are available for purchase at and


I almost walked out with one at the expo in Atlanta, but wanted the Blue/Black one. It felt good there. Be curious how you like it for a half.It was hard for me to tell if it had enough for me to go form 5k-half or if it would be limited to the 5k/10k races and speed work.

The Saucony A5 have been fine at the 1/2 Marathon distance, so I’m expecting the same from the Road N0. I’ll let you know what happens this weekend!

Another great review. Makes me want to try them, mate!!!

Thanks, Michelle.

20% off orders over $80 at at the moment! Just use code 20SPRING14.

Here’s the link:

King of Calipers, nice! Thanks for the mention Steve, and I agree, great shoe!

Did you chose the same sizes for you N0’s as you did for the Em trail and road 1’s? Shoe fitter says to size down 1/2? Your thoughts?

Hi Cameron. Yes, 9.5 in all three models – same size I wear in the majority of other shoe brands. No fit issues whatsoever.

[…] mentioned in my recent review of the Pearl Izumi EM Road N0, I’ve been racking up some good mileage in the EM Road N1 too. With about 50 miles on my 2nd […]

Great review.
I’m thinking of purchasing these. How would you compare the size of the N0 to that of the Saucony type A5? I had to go up a half size in the A5’s and am wondering if I should order them in the same size?

Sizing is very similar, RJ – I wear a 9.5 in both the A5 and N0.

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