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Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoe Review

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoe Review

The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoes are the most breathable cycling shoes I have ever worn.  Airflow is absolutely amazing and I would definitely categorize them as late spring, summer and early fall must haves.

In August of 2016 Pearl Izumi stunned the running world when they announced that Pearl Izumi would ceased production of their running line of shoes and apparel.  The decision to recommit to their core, which in Pearl Izumi’s case was cycling, was bold and decisive.  Starting in January of 2017 all efforts would be focused on “being the best at performance cycling, mountain bike and tri apparel, shoes and accessories”

When Interbike rolled around this year, Pearl Izumi was their in force showcasing some fantastic cycling apparel and shoes.  The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 happened to be a pretty big hit, drawing lots of attention.

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoe Review 2017 Interbike

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoe Review Interbike 2017

What makes the P.R.O. Leader v4 stand out from the crowed cycling shoe brands is their innovative double BOA system offset on the tongue and the wicked cool mirror like metallic rainbow colored bottoms.

P.R.O. Leader v4 Shipment arrives

Recently we got a slew of Pearl Izumi goodness including cycling shorts, P.R.O. arm warmers, P.R.O. gloves and the P.R.O. Leader V4 Cycling Shoes.  Needless to say we were stoked.  Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O. line is their top of the line cycling apparel and shoes.  Stuff pros would want to wear.  In our case most of it was cold weather gear rated for temps between 40 to 60 degrees.  Perfect for Austin’s cooler winters.

Pearl Izumi P.R.O Apparel and Cycling Shoes

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoe Review

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoes

Pearl Izumi PRO Leader v4 Bag, Insert and arch support risers

The shoes come with a shoe bag and 2 arch support inserts (Medium/High) for those wanting to add more arch support.  I found I didn’t need to add the arch supports, but for those with higher arches you do have options.

Pearl Izumi PRO Leader v4 Inside Rear Heal Bumper

The shoes come with a replaceable heel.  Two screws are used to hold it down and should you need to replace the heel, just remove the shoe inserts and unscrew the screws to replace it.

Pearl Izumi PRO Leader v4 Tongue

It’s a little hard to tell but the cycling shoes tongue is offset with more of the tongue wrapping towards the inside of the shoe.

Pearl Izumi PRO Leader v4 Top down view

By contrast the BOA system sits more on the outside of the shoe rather than straight over the middle.  The shoes were designed this way to help avoid pressure points on the top of the foot.

Pearl Izumi PRO Leader v4 BOA IP4 Sideview

There are mesh panels on the front and both sides of the shoes to allow air flow into them.  I found the shoes to allow a lot of airflow, which should help keep your feet a bit cooler.  Of the many shoes I have tested, I would rate these high on breathability.

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoes front venting

There is also venting on the bottom of the shoe with a mesh screen at the front.

Pearl Izumi PRO Leader v4 Rear Shot

The heel cup has padding on the inside and a recessed part to help keep the foot from slipping.  One thing that is missing that I would like to see added is the shark tooth type material many cycling shoes have.  The material is really good at keeping the ankle from sliding.

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoes Observations

Below are just a few observations I had when cycling with the shoes.

  • When taking the shoes for a spin I felt the top of my big toes hitting the top of the shoes and was a bit concerned, but after a few rides nothing seemed to go wrong.  The sensation sort of dissipates and you forget about it.
  • The BOA IP1 dials work really well and you can really crank down on the tension.
  • The upper material doesn’t flex as much as leather or other synthetics I have cycled with, but certainly isn’t uncomfortable.
  • The shoes fit true to size and I didn’t have any issue with sizing.
  • I didn’t feel any flex in the carbon soles when in a stand up sprint or while climbing hills.  They reacted really well and I felt I wasn’t losing any power.
  • The shoes are certainly breathable and allowed lots of airflow.  I would not recommend these shoes for winter riding without shoe covers.
  • I have been testing quite a few cycling shoes an one thing I am constantly having to do is adjust the seat height based on the cycling shoes stack height.  These fall in between the Crono R1s and the Bonts.  I had to lower my traditional seat height slightly to test these out.  Something to consider when buying cycling shoes.

P.R.O. Leader v4 Features BOA IP1 Dials

Pearl Izumi added 2 of BOA’s top of the line IP1 dials that are dual directional and have easy micro-adjustment functionality.  The dials utilize quick release simply by pulling up and and are engaged by pushing in.  Turn to the right to tighten and to the left to loosen. EASY PEASY!

BOA IP1 Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoe

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoe Specifications

  • NEW 1:1 Zero Distraction Upper Fit mitigates foot discomfort by avoiding the soft tissue running along the top of the foot
  • Advanced 3-Layer Seamless Composite Upper offers exceptional breathability and eliminates hot spots by adapting to your unique foot shape
  • Unibody construction eliminates traditional lasting board to deliver super low 5mm stack height for maximum pedaling efficiency
  • Zonal Bi-directional Closure wraps the foot for a semi-custom fit and secure foot retention
  • Dual Boa® IP1 dials allow 1 mm micro-adjustability and pop up for full release
  • 1:1 Integrated Carbon Power Plate delivers feather-light stiffness (stiffness rating of 13)
  • 1:1 Insole System allows independent left and right arch and forefoot varus canting adjustability for optimal pedaling mechanics
  • Replaceable heel bumper
  • Retail: $350.00

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Cycling Shoes | Bottom Line

Pearl Izumi has built a reputation for making fantastic cycling products and the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader 4 is just another great example of their devotion to the sport.

You will not be disappointed with how the P.R.O. Leader 4 performs in and out of the saddle.

Looking forward to a V5 version, I expect slight changes to the upper with a more softer feel and possibly changes to the heel material.  As far as BOA positioning and Carbon stiffness, I am not really sure there is any room for improvement.  The shoes perform extremely well and I expect to see these shoes on Pros and Amateur cyclists alike.

Find out about the many great cycling products Pearl Izumi has (

Pearl Izumi ELITE Thermal Arm & Leg Warmers Review

Crono CR1 Cycling Shoe Review | 2017

2017 Top Road Cycling Shoes


About The Author

Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about photography, cycling, running and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of,,,, and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the photography and cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day.

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