We’ve tested a lot of SPD shoes over the years, but with most of them built around a BOA closure or some similar fancy ratchet system, some riders find that they’re getting a little too complicated. In his latest video review, Neil goes back to laces with the Pearl Izumi Canyon SPD…
SPD mountain bike shoes have become a little too complex over the last few years, making it challenging to find a simple shoe that’s ready for long days of pedaling and good for hiking or lounging around camp. Pearl Izumi went back to the basics with the Canyon, making an uncomplicated cycling shoe that ticks all the boxes and doesn’t look like one. In our latest video review, Neil digs into the Pearl Izumi Canyon SPD, an affordable lace-up clipless mountain bike shoe.
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Fit and Sizing
The Pearl Izumi Canyon SPD is designed to be a cycling shoe that doesn’t actually look like a cycling shoe, and I really appreciate this. I regularly wear size 11.5 US shoes and went with a size EU 46, which lines up in Pearl Izumi’s sizing chart. The X-Alp Summit Shoes I previously reviewed were a 46, so it was an easy decision, and I was pleased with the fit. Even though their website suggests that they run small, I found them to be true to size. I didn’t use an aftermarket insole for the first time in a while, which usually helps with additional comfort. But, for the sake of the review, I wanted to go without this time, and I didn’t feel like it was missing.
The Canyon SPD features a sturdy but lightweight upper with minimal seams. The welded panels provide a clean look, and the seamless construction seemed to help eliminate chaffing or irritation when wearing the shoe. The Canyon has three mesh panels: two on the sides and one toward the toe. These panels proved their worth when it was hot out, allowing the shoe to breathe well and dry faster than any shoe I’ve used in recent memory. However, that also means cool air can enter, so, if you’re cycling in cold temperatures, it could be an issue. I found it to be a positive overall but would certainly specify it as a summer shoe.
The heel of the shoe has a padded and supportive cup, keeping my heel bone locked in and my achilles comfortable. The shoe also has an EVA midsole, a feature commonly found in running shoes and flat-pedal MTB shoes, providing a nice cushion from impacts. This is a great addition to the Canyon, and despite it not being noticeable right away, I missed it after returning to a shoe without EVA foam for a few rides.
The Canyon’s nylon shank is stiff enough that it provides surprisingly good pedal transfer and flexible enough that it still allows excellent walkability. There’s also enough flex in the toe area to provide grip on the steepest of hike-a-bikes.
The outsole is made from something Pearl Izumi calls carbon rubber, which helps keep the sole durable while remaining grippy. I found the lug pattern to grip fairly well, even when scrambling down wet sandstone during our Sloppy Joe Safari a few months ago. The cleat cut-out is positioned nicely for all cleat positions. As I’ve mentioned in past shoe reviews, I move my cleat all the way back to reduce achilles movement. The Canyon SPD’s cutout leaves plenty of space to allow this and is also well-recessed to avoid any cleat clanking.
This is my first time using a full lace-up shoe in a while, and it reminded me that they can tighten down the shoe as snugly as a BOA closure does. Unfortunately, laces can’t do so on the fly like a BOA system, but I was never annoyed by this despite it taking a bit more time to tighten down than other shoes I’ve used recently. The Canyon SPDs also have a little elastic lace lock, which I often forgot to use as it can get stuck under the laces, but it’s a handy feature.
I received this pair of Pearl Izumi Canyon SPD shoes in March and pedaled them more than 550 miles over several bikepacking trips, day rides, and one bike race on local trails. They’ve been fully submerged in water many times, dried out fast, and maintained their shape, size, and structural integrity. While the toe of the shoe has undoubtedly seen some abuse, the upper is in pretty good condition considering its lightweight construction. I have noticed a bit of fading, however. The outsole is also in pretty good shape, with the tread showing little signs of wear and tear considering some of the hike-a-bikes that they’ve seen. Generally speaking, I’m pleased with how they’re holding up.
The heal padding is also still in great shape and has lots of life left in it. The lack of unwanted smell is a good indicator of the Canyon’s breathability, as I typically have some stinky feet after a significant bikepacking trip, especially during trips in scorching heat. Finally, the laces still look great, and if you’re seeking a more subtle look or have one break on you, Pearl Izumi also includes a pair of black laces.
The Pearl Izumi Canyon SPD is available in Black/Urban Sage or Dark Olive/Phantom for men, and there is a non-SPD version in the same colors. The women’s SPD version comes in livelier options like Wild Violet/Pale Pine and Phantom/Smoke Grey. There is also a flat-pedal option in Wet Weather/Phantom. All versions of The Pearl Izumi Canyon are priced at $125 USD.
Dries very fast and has a breathable design
Offers good balance of pedal efficient and hike-ability
Subtle but good looks
Can be cold with the breathable design
Lace-up takes time and can’t tighten on the go like BOA
The reality is, most cycling shoes have evolved to look either super racy or ugly. I wanted a no-frills shoe that looks good, can withstand the elements, and doesn’t break the bank. The Pearl Izumi Canyon SPD has ticked all of those boxes throughout more than 500 miles of riding, and I can recommend it to riders who are searching for SPD shoes that don’t look or feel like a typical cycling shoe.
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