Pearl Izumi Iso Transition running shoe review

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

When I started triathlon in 2001 there were a few big names atop the men’s long course field; the lone American among them was Tim DeBoom (Kona winner in 2001 and 2002, 2nd in 2000, and 3rd in 1999). Tim was my guy. I liked his humble and steady approach to the race. And yes, I’ll admit, because he is American.

So when I was given the opportunity to test the Pearl Izumi Iso Transition, designed by Tim DeBoom, I jumped at the chance. Tim is still doing great things, having won the 2011 Norseman Triathlon, regarded by many as the world’s toughest Iron distance race. I figured a pair of shoes he’d put his stamp on had to be good.

Tim DeBoom winning Norseman 2011. Photo by Eivind Senneset.

I was right. The Pearl Izumi Iso Transition is a fast, light, made-for-triathlon winner.

The first thing I noticed out of the box was how light the Iso Transition is. While it’s not a true racing flat, it’s light enough for even the fastest runners on race day. Triathlete Magazine named it the best light weight trainer on the market.

Because they were made for triathlon I tested them both wearing socks and sockless (how I’ll use them on race day). The seamless upper and Ortholite sock liner made them perfect for sock free running. The shoes conformed to my foot with a barely there upper. More importantly, I had no blisters from them after my very first run in them with no socks.

The quick lacing system is great for both triathletes and dedicated runners. As a triathlete it’s always been a challenge for me to get my retro-fit elastic laces just right in my shoes. Pearl Izumi’s built in elastic system hugged my foot, not too tight, not too loose. The knock on elastic laces from non-triathletes is that you can’t get them secure enough for fast times. I didn’t experience that in the Iso Transition. I felt just as secure in this shoe as I do in my traditional shoe laced trainers.

The built in lacing system and heel loop make for fast transitions times. 

I’m not sure how it happens, but I manage to still be soaking wet after the bike leg of my races. That has often meant moisture and even puddling in my running shoes. Pearl Izumi addressed this issue with a heel to toe drainage system on the bottom of the Iso Transition. No more squishy 10ks or half marathons for me. 

Bottom line: The Iso Transition is a fast shoe. It’s not very beefy or sturdy, so expect to feel the road in them. But if you’re shooting for fast transitions and fast run splits the Pearl Izumi Iso Transition should be in your race bag. I’ll likely use them for sprint and Olympic distance racing, working my way up to 70.3 in them. 

The Iso Transition is another step forward for Pearl Izumi in the running shoe market.

I love you,

– Daddy

* I was given this shoe by Pearl Izumi for purposes of this review. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

See that little twitter button below? Click it and retweet this review for your chance to win a free pair of Pearl Izumi Iso Transitions. Pearl Izumi will give away one pair to one lucky reader. You must tag both @chadnikazy and @pearlizumi. Winner announced on Friday at 1pm cst!