Pearl Izumi EM Road N1 Shoe Review
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:
- The N1 is a lightweight, road-racing shoe that’s cushioned enough for a marathon yet light enough for a 5K.
- The N1 features the unique Pearl Izumi seamless upper technology.
- The N1 features the Pearl Izumi Dynamic Offset technology for a lively and smooth ride regardless of foot strike.
- The N1 outsole is a combination of exposed EVA for responsiveness and carbon rubber for durability.
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 RunningWarehouse.com 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.
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.
A couple of other quick comments.
- The laces are a bit thick and, in my experience, need a good double-knot to keep them securely tied.
- 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.
- The Road N1 is part of the Project E:Motion series which has been engineered to provide the smoothest running experience
- The Road N1 features our Dynamic Offset technology for a lively and smooth ride that eliminates forefoot slap and reduces shock
- The Road N1 has a low 1mm drop and a combination of shock absorbing and energy return foams
- The Road N1 is neutral and has our most minimal level 1 midsole
- At 8 ounces, it is extremely light-weight, yet cushioned enough for marathons
- Outsole has strategically placed rubber pads for traction and durability
- Seamless upper uses bonded technology for structure and durability, leaving the inside of the upper smooth and comfortable against your foot
- Insole has a deeply cupped heel that securely cradles the foot
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.