Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: Pearl Izumi Streak II

Pearl Izumi Streak II Running shoe
I had the opportunity recently to test drive a pair of Pearl Izumi Streak II shoes. This was no easy task and took longer than expected, because I've been hampered by some lower leg injuries, but I managed to get out and take a few shorter runs in them, ranging from 2 miles to 10K.

Here's what the Streak II features, according to Pearl Izumi:

  • 1:1 Seamless Upper creates an unparalleled fit with a seam-free interior
  • 1:1 360° Lacing anatomically conforms to the foot for a tailored fit regardless of foot shape
  • NEW 1:1 Energy Foam cushions the forefoot upon impact and then returns energy back to the runner
  • Outsole-grade EVA and blown rubber outsole combines for great cushioning and weight savings
  • Segmented forefoot for a smooth, efficient ride
  • NEW Ortholite® sockliner for amazing step-in comfort and long-lasting cushioning
  • NEW 100% recycled lace webbing and laces
  • Heel/Toe offset: 19.0mm/10.0mm
This list of features sound great, and no doubt some of these features contributed to my overall experience with the Streak II, and I've tried to point out where some of these features may have come into play below.

The look: I like the looks of the shoe. I'm a fan of black and this kind of neon green/lime color, although I prefer shoes to be darker in color overall (personal preference).

The weight: This shoe is fairly light weight. It's not the lightest shoe I've run in, but it's on the lighter size for a running shoe. That's not surprising for a shoe that's billed as a performance light trainer or racing flat.

The fit: These shoes fit my foot well, and seemed true to size. Despite their light weight, they are both comfortable and well-cushioned. I managed three runs over 5 miles in them quite comfortably, and my feet were happy at the end, so I suspect I could wear these shoes quite easily for a half marathon or possibly even a longer race.

That the shoes fit so well is significant for me, because my feet are a little odd. They are long and narrow, one is nearly a full size longer than the other. My second and third toes are just a little longer, so I like a toebox that is more round than most running shoes, or I have to go with a larger size. Going with a larger size often means I get a less-than-ideal fit in other ways, so I prefer a better fit in the smallest possible size when I can find it.

My odd feet also mean that it is difficult to get such a good fit that I can wear shoes without socks and not have blister problems, so the seam-free interior is almost irrelevant for me. Indeed, even with socks, my toes got a little sensitive on an early run in the Streak II, but more securely lacing over the midfoot to keep my foot from moving forward in the shoe while running and solved the problem (the 1:1 360° lacing may possibly have come into play). Still, I would be interested in comparing these to a half size larger shoe, as they may indeed run just a little small.

Finally, the Streak II seems to have a little more room in the toe box than many other light training/racing flats I've tried, and I my forefoot also felt less constrained laterally, and able to spread out more comfortably than in Saucony Kinvara and Saucony Kilkenny flats.

The experience: I enjoyed running in these shoes. They feel light on the feet and flexible (the segmented forefoot?). Despite a 9mm heel-toe drop (I'm accustomed to a flatter profile 0-4mm drop), I didn't have a problems running with a forefoot/midfoot strike, although I could sense that I was striking a little more flatfooted than I do with Saucony Kinvara or Kilkenny Flats, and found a little scuffing wear on the outside of the left heel after a few miles.

Summary:  The weight, the fit, and the styling of the Streak II all suit me well. I decided after running several short runs in the Streak II that I would wear them in my next 5K race. They are lightweight and comfortable, but a little more stable than the kilkenny flats I usually wear for short races. Given my recent struggles with tibialis poterior tendinitis, a little more stability seems like a good idea for the time being. I'd prefer they had less heel-toe drop, but that's really my only complaint about the shoe. If they work out well for my 5K next weekend, I will consider trying them in my next 10K or half marathon. I won't be trading in my Other favorites in favor of these, but the Streak II will definitely go into my current rotation.

See these other reviews of the Pearl Izumi Streak II:
The Dailymile Blog - Dailymile Team group review
Believe In The Run - Thomas Neuberger personal review

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