Pearl Izumi EM Road N1 Shoe Review

On Sale at Sierra Trading Post!

As 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 pair of N1s, I figured now was as good a time as any to share my thoughts.

To start with, here’s a short Pearl Izumi marketing pitch on the E:Motion Road N1:

If you’d rather skip the video, highlights are as follows:

For me, the best thing about this shoe is the fit and the level of comfort the stretchy, seamless upper provides. The soft mesh fabric hugs the foot perfectly and is smooth enough for sockless runs if you’re that way inclined. Initially, I was concerned that the shoe looked narrow in the forefoot, but thanks to the stretchy mesh, the toe box is deceptively roomy with just enough give in the upper to keep toes from feeling cramped.

The heel cup is padded, flexible and thankfully sits at just the right ankle height with no irritation whatsoever. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned an insole in a shoe review before, but this one cradles the foot nicely, and even after several hundred miles still has a bit of spring in it. Overall, I couldn’t really ask for a more comfortable shoe.

At 8.5oz, weight is pretty good for my size 9.5, although it is almost an ounce heavier than the Newton Distance III and a fraction heavier than another of my favorite shoes, the Saucony Kinvara. No big deal though – it doesn’t “feel” heavy when you’re running.

Similar to the EM Road N0, one thing I’m a little confused on is the heel-to-toe offset of the shoe. Pearl Izumi quote the N1 as having a 1mm offset, whereas states there is a 7mm difference in stack height between the heel (22mm) and forefoot (15mm). Honestly, neither of those figures seem accurate, but if I were to estimate the offset based on feel, I’d put it in the 3-4mm range. Probably not a big deal, but worth mentioning all the same.

Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

Out of the box, the first 2 or 3 runs were slightly disappointing. Despite feeling super comfortable on the feet, for want of a better description, the shoes felt slappy – foot strikes felt weird and I struggled to get into a decent rhythm. Thankfully, on the 4th or 5th run, everything clicked, and now it feels like I’m in cruise mode when I wear the N1s. Interestingly, Pearl Izumi claim that their Dynamic Offset technology offers a “lively and smooth ride that eliminates forefoot slap”. Maybe it just takes a short break in period to get there?

With all its exposed midsole EVA, the sole visibly appears to wear quite quickly, but the four strategically placed carbon rubber pads (2 in the forefoot/2 in the heel), and the s-shaped rubber strip down the middle, work well to preserve the life of the sole. I logged just over 400 miles in my first pair of Road N1s and probably could have squeezed another 50-100 out of them if required. Not too shabby.

Pearl Izumi claim the shoe is ideal for any distance from a 5K to a marathon. Personally, I think they’re a bit bulky for a 5K or 10K, but I wouldn’t hesitate to wear them in a half or full marathon. Actually, I rate the shoe so highly I’m seriously considering the EM Road N1 as my starting shoe in the upcoming 24 Run/Walk for Cancer on April 26th/27th.

Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

Worth a quick mention, I love the color options for the EM Road N1. The Electric Blue/Screaming Yellow (pictured above) is my favorite, but I also like the Black/Red and the Black/Screaming Yellow.

A couple of other quick comments.

  1. The laces are a bit thick and, in my experience, need a good double-knot to keep them securely tied.
  2. The rubber bumper at the front of the shoe works well – soft and flexible, yet protects the toes well from rocks and other objects you may kick.

To summarise, the EM Road N1 offers a very balanced ride in a super comfy package. Whether the Dynamic Offset technology is a bit gimmicky, I’m not sure, but Pearl Izumi seem to have nailed a great shoe in the Road N1. The N1s are very versatile and perform just as well on easy recovery days as they do during tempo efforts and long runs. For rubber-track work, you may need a slightly stiffer shoe though.

From the Pearl Izumi website:
Our lightest road style, the Project E:Motion Road N1 is designed for the runner seeking an ultra-smooth, light-as-a-feather, running experience. Perfect for race day, our E:Motion midsole promotes a smooth and quick running sensation giving you the liveliness you need for maximum speed.

Neutral Race
Sizes: 7–13 in half sizes, size 14
Weight–Size 9: 8.2 oz / 232g

Let me know if you have any questions about the Road N1, or feel free to leave a comment about any of the other shoes Pearl Izumi are selling right now.

The Pearl Izumi EM Road N1 are available for purchase at, and are currently on sale for just $79.95 at Sierra Trading Post! [Price correct 4/17/14 and subject to change]

Road Runner Sports


I’m just starting my second pair of the N1’s, I will agree that the first couple of runs in them seem, as I say, they feel a bit wonky. Then they just start to flow. I’ve run several halves in them and they perform great. May try them as my marathon shoe this fall.

Thanks for the comment, Alan. How many miles did you get out of the first pair?

Right now the first pair are right at 200, but feel like they have another 200 in them. I was able to get the second pair on sale at an expo, so now I can slowly work them in as the first pair fades out.

In the first pair, and I just did a wear comparison to the new pair, the 3 sections in the first behind the hard section has some nice wear but not even close to wearing out the groove between sections.

Doesn’t look like much changed between the V1 and I guess you could call it the V2 of this shoe. The ONLY thing I found was my first pair was 11.5, I even replaced that one with another 11.5 when the heel cup blew out. But now 11.5 is too small and had to go with a 12. Oddly the N2 I tried was also a 12, so guessing they sized it wrong. When I do the shoe to shoe size test they are the same. Very odd.

Good review. Trying to get my shoe review game on and this is helpful.

Mark aka @marathoner

Great review of a great shoe. I also need one or two runs to fully appreciate them but now I love ‘em. Will be on my feet for a marathon in
ten days.

Good luck, Carsten. Which marathon?

Hi, great reviews – how would you compare the N2’s. with the Distance III?
Personally, love the ride of the N2’s, seem to help increase my cadence and improve my form (I think!).
Low drop suits me and a firmer ride but I think I’d need a more cushioned/substantial shoe for ironman marathon,i.e. start the mara’ on fatigued legs.

…sorry, I did mean N1’s comparison to Distance 3’s :-)

My stride tends to flow better in the N1’s than the Distance III’s, Dave, if that makes sense. I think I’m guilty of thinking more about my stride in the Newtons instead of just letting things happen, whereas in the N1’s I just lace up and go.

I’m sure the N1’s would be fine for an ironman marathon. Definitely enough cushion in my opinion.

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