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Pearl Izumi EM Road N2 and M2 Shoe Review

Thomas: Pearl Izumi is growing its fan base by creating a no nonsense line up of running shoes. While at The Running Event in Austin this December we got to talk shoes with the Pearl team. They sent us home with three pairs of Pearl Izumi, N2 for both Meaghan and myself, and a pair of M2 for me. N designates neutral platform, while M is their stability platform, not sure but maybe it stands for motion control. The number does not represent the version of the shoe. Pearl Izumi has shoes from 0-3. Zero is the smallest stack height and you guessed it 3 has the most cushion. It is a little confusing. Here is what we thought of the shoes.

The good

Thomas: I will start with the really good. The uppers on both the N2 and the M2 fit my foot better than any shoe I have tried in memory. With all the shoes trying to accommodate runners with wider feet, those of us with feet on the narrow side have had to deal with material puckering in the forefoot to get the right fit. I don’t have freakishly narrow feet either. The Pearl Izumi N2 and M2 fit surprisingly well considering the simple design and lack of stitched overlays. The overlays are 3-D printed and welded to the upper. At first I thought the N2 and M2 had the same upper with just a different midsole. The M2 has a little more overlay extending down closer to the toes. The little extra overlay was a positive in that the M2 feels a tad more dialed in. The material on the upper is very breathable and the overlays are 3D printed and welded to the upper creating a sock like feel that makes the upper disappear on your run. The midsole on both shoes is more than enough for a long run. I could not believe how good my feet felt after a 21 mile training run in the M2. Seriously, not even a hot spot after the 21. The outsole has been redesigned for 2015. I have not run in the predecessor, so I can’t tell you if it was a good update. What I can tell you is I am hard on outsoles and the Pearls are holding up really well. The traction is good too. Finally, I really like the way the shoes look. Some of the shoes I saw coming out for 2015 are going too crazy. These shoes look good while running and they are jean compatible when you retire them.

Pearl Izumi N2

Meaghan: I’ll start by saying I’m new to Pearl Izumi road shoes. I tested out a pair of N1 trail shoes last year which I liked, but they were nothing to write home about. The N2 road shoe is quality. It’s simple, lightweight, and a good looking shoe that I find myself lacing up over and over. Not only do they look good on the run, but I will happily sport them with pair of jeans. (I know, I know but it’s a nice quality to have when you retire them.) The N2 is really comfortable. The upper materials are sock-like and mold around your feet. The mesh stretches nicely so there’s no issue with rubbing or irritation. The rubber outsole feels natural underfoot. PI added some energy foam to the heel which adds a layer of comfort to the carbon rubber and crash pad in the heel.  As someone who heel-strikes, this is a nice addition. The N2 ride is responsive, but still contains that firmness I like for speedier runs. I should note that I’ve been battling ankle pain and I have not been able to take these out for true speed work. Don’t get me wrong, the slow miles felt great in this shoe, but I have a feeling the faster miles are where this shoe excels.

Pearl Izumi EM Road N2 M2 top-n2-m2The Bad

Thomas: I will start with the the naming convention. I get it, I just don’t like it. I like it when I can tell what version of the shoe I am wearing. The 2 makes me think version 2 not medium cushioning. Ms and Ns, it gets confusing too. The road feel of the N2 is deadened. There is no difference in feel as you roll through your stride. Adding some flexibility to the forefoot would help the shoe feel a little more responsive. I can’t help but think the N1 would take care of the last critique but I have not tried the EM Road N1, so I can not be certain. The M2 gave a better road feel, this is due to the difference in midsole density and forefoot density. The firmness of the mid-foot transitioning to the forefoot created a push off feel that I preferred.

Meaghan: I think this shoe runs small. While the 7.5 fit snugly, my toes could use some more breathing room. I have wide feet, so this may be a factor but I would have benefited by going a half size up. I also struggled with heel slippage. I used the lacing trick as a quick-fix, but the laces provided are not quite long enough for this tactic.


Thomas: Between an incredible upper that works with narrow and wide feet, near perfect amount of cushioning, and smooth durable outsole the Pearl Izumi EM Road N2 and M2 are winners. The slight, and I emphasize slight differences between the shoes, was just noticeable enough for me to have a favorite. I ended up taking a 6 mile run with a M2 on one foot and a N2 on the other. By the end of the run I concluded the M2 was the better shoe for me. I had run a very good 21 mile training run in the M2 so I was leaning towards it already. I am considering running my Marathon in January in the M2. The extra firmness in the mid-foot gives the M2 more personality, and the overlays on the M2 held my foot perfectly. I would recommend both of these shoes to any type of runner, from the person that logs 15 miles a week to the 100 miles a week nutters. Men’s 10.5 weighed in at 10.45 oz. for the N2 and 10.7 oz. for the M2.

Meaghan: There are some slight adjustments I would make to this shoe, but overall it’s a solid, durable trainer. I appreciate the simplicity of the N2 and when I’m back and healthy, I’ll give the speed work a go. Emelie Ortiz from Pearl Izumi shared these shoes with us at TRE. The way she described them is spot on: the N2 is simple, comfortable and a shoe that disappears underfoot. Women’s size 7.5 weighed in at 8.3 oz.


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Brad Patterson (@patterbt) says:

    Great review T and Meaghan! These shoes sound really good and I have been curious about the EM series since the V1s came out. T brings up an interesting point about the M2 vs the N2 and the reasons that you like the M2 better. Do you think the M2 would work ok for a person who normally does not use “stability” shoes? I would have thought I would want to check out the N2, but your review makes me think maybe the M2 would be better. Thanks!

  2. Taylor Coleman says:

    Did you find any sizing difference between the two models?

    1. The M2 sizing was snug, I exchanged for another pair the same size that felt perfect.

  3. JPerry2828 says:

    I have been looking forward to your review of the N2 for some time, and just before it came out I ended up grabing the v1 version, your review is the v2 I believe. Anyway, they are divergently different than what typically wear but I was intigued by their e-motion concept and had to give them a try. That said they are a tad firmer than I am used too and it is the dead of winter in the STL so I have only done a couple treadmill runs and one quick 3 mile jaunt a few weeks ago. Thus far they are a sock like fit but a little snug as far as length. They are definitely comfy but and not as flexible as I usually go for but I think they will break in after a few miles. I can’t wait till it warms up and I can really get them in the rotation. I am just holding back until it’s warmer due to the more firm midsole and the cold temps… Great review – I am curious about the differences in the updates and if they are more flexible/softer than v1. I know you haven’t tested the previous version…curious if any fellow followers have?

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