Category: Neutral Trainer
Best For: High mileage neutral running
Star Feature: Dynamic Offset Midsole
Weight: 9 oz
It's always risky when a company leaves it's comfort zone in attempts to create and thrive in new territory. This is exactly what Pearl Izumi has done with their new Project E:Motion series, a line of neutral running shoes looking to make your run experience smoother and more efficient. In order to turn skeptics into believers, Pearl Izumi has sent us a pair of their Project E:Motion Road N2 neutral running shoes and we have the full review for you here. These light weight neutral runners fit and feel more like a pair of trainers but run just as well, if not better than a lot of its neutral competition.
With the N2's dynamic offset midsole, Pearl Izumi has successfully eliminated pauses in your foot's natural gate and has transitioned them into smoother more efficient running strides. While thicker and more cushion then its competition, the N2 has also proven itself reliable and up for the long haul.
Pearl Izumi's Project E:Motion Runs Smooth With the Road N2, you won't be disappointed.
First impressions of the shoe were positive, but I never knew Pearl Izumi made their way into the run game. The design was unique and the bright orange sole really stood out which draws in your attention and forces you to look over the shoe as a whole. You’ll notice the Pearl Izumi logo over-lay on the side of each shoe, along with other smooth flowing lines and curves, representative of the shoes ability to help with smoother foot transitions. The Road N2 is also surprising light for what looks like a decently thick sole, but you can thank Pearl Izumi’s choice of shock absorbing and energy returning foams for that.
The Road N2 trainers look and feel a lot like a new pair of Nike Lunarflys, but with a tad bit more of a solid foundation. They’re not quite as soft as the Nikes. The seam-less upper is a soft mesh making them comfortable with or without socks. The N2’s inner is what really makes the shoe worth putting on. The soft breathable net material provides comforting padding throughout the tongue, both sides of your ankle and Achilles. While your ankle is comfortable and protected, your heel sits in a deep cup shape groove which actually sits back a hair further than the Achilles padding which allows for a natural, enclosed feel. For a neutral runner, the N2 is fitted with a rather thick sole meant to tackle long runs and high miles. With that being said, there isn’t much ground contact with your foot, which depending on the runner is good or bad.
The shoe fits true to size but is narrow along the insole with a slightly wider toe box. The N2 hugs the ankle and heel while the laces lock down for a tight grip around your foot. However, the shoe lacks arch support. After about 20 minutes my right arch began to feel as if it was taking most of my weight during my plant phase which then caused me to think about foot placement throughout runs. As you can imagine this effected not only my thinking but a lot of other bio mechanics, as I attempted to plant my stride along the outside of my foot. But other than iffy arch support, the Road N2 fits snug all around and is very comfortable.
The seam-less upper allows your feet to cool off just fine. The light weight stretchy mesh is 100% ventilated all around and is complimented by a tongue covered in perforated holes. Sweaty feet won’t be a problem with these.
Smooth transitions is what Project E:Motion is all about. I love the idea of moving the toe springs back behind the ball of your foot in order to help propel you into toe off. I could really tell my foot transitioned smoother and quicker through its gate. From initial ground contact, to stance, to toe off, the sole helped transition the movement fluidly. Depending on your style of run, whether its full foot strike, mid-foot or fore foot strike, initial ground contact is when your foot first hits the ground. Because the N2’s sole varies in height from heel to toe, the shoe gives you what’s known as the “rocker” effect which helps rock your foot from contact to toe off. This one fluid motion of rocking helps eliminate pauses in the stride allowing for really smooth transitions. Well done Pearl Izumi.
For being a cyclist company, Pearl Izumi may have found what the run game has been missing. The Road N2 is one of the most comfortable running shoes I’ve worn in a long time. You almost forget they’re a neutral runner with the lack of ground contact and thick sole but that’s almost better. There was never a problem in my shins or calves and I felt like my legs had a lot more give left in them. The smooth transitions made this shoe complete. The idea behind pulling the toe springs back just enough to propel the foot forward into toe off is so simple, yet so effective. It allowed for more of a full foot strike rather than a fore foot strike like a lot of other Neutral runners out there.
Bottom Line: Pearl Izumi has struck gold with their Project E:Motion line. The Road N2, a light weight neutral runner is fit to go to the distance and will definitely leave you satisfied.