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Ride a Mile in Tejay’s Shoes: Pearl Izumi Leader PRO II

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Forget winning Le Tour or the rainbow stripes, a pro cyclist knows he has arrived when he gets his own limited edition gear. Well, Tejay van Garederen, you have arrived. Pearl Izumi has taken its PRO Leader II shoe and done a Tejay limited edition, just in time for the Tour.

Ben Edwards

Tejay van Garderen will line up for the 2014 Tour de France as the BMC team leader and he will kit up with shoes he helped design. The PRO Leader II is Pearl Izumi’s top of the line race shoe and this limited edition features more than just custom graphics, although those graphics are very cool – designed with help from Tejay himself. An asymmetric colorway, the red and black of the left are mirrored by the black and red of the right. The outsoles and insoles features a ‘Zen warrior’ graphic as a nod to Tejay’s mind set on the bike, calm and collected but always ready to attack. The left shoe also gets a Tejay signature on the Velcro toe strap.

Beyond these graphics the shoe stands apart from a typical PRO Leader II thanks to a new BOA dial that is quite simply the best we have ever worn. On the right shoe, turn the BOA clockwise and it tightens, one click at a time, turn it counter clockwise and it loosens, one click at a time. The left shoe is reversed. Pop the BOA dial up and it releases completely. No BOA shoes can be adjusted more precisely, more quickly or more easily from the saddle and they can be taken off faster than any other shoe as well.

All the other features that have made the PRO Leader II one of the best shoes in the peloton are in attendance. The Seamless Second Skin upper is less than a millimeter thick and helps wrap around your entire foot, eliminating hot spots, bunching or folding, no matter your foot shape or how tight you run your shoes. The unidirectional carbon outsole is vented and incredibly rigid with only a 6.5mm stack. They call it Octane level and, whatever that means, it works. The heel is reinforced to hold your foot securely and resist crushing after repeated entry. The PRO Leader II weighs 245grams, while not the lightest shoe on the start line, it is among the lightest full featured shoes suitable for the climber and sprinter alike.

The fit is fairly low volume considering its rather square toe, in fact, riders used to Specialized or SIDI sizing may need to go up a half size. Arch collapse is nicely prevented by the shape of the insole and outsole and even big riders will find plenty of stiffness, structure and support under big watts for such a light shoe. Riders with a tall arch will notice quite  bit of gap across the tongue between each side of the upper, but this does not hinder fit or comfort.

Only 100 pairs of these shoes are available. Wait, scratch that, Tejay has to have a couple pairs, peloton magazine has a pair, so only 97 are available. If you are a fan of good shoes and Tejay, check out Pearl Izumi right now, because they are going to get snapped up quickly. And while these shoes may have signaled Tejay’s arrival as a super star in US Cycling, we’re pretty sure he still wants to win the Tour and these shoes are only going to help.

Price: $300 Weight: 245grams (43) More: Pearl Izumi
Sizes: 39, 40, 40.5, 41, 42, 43, 43.5, 44, 44.5, 45, 45.5, 46, 47, 48, 49