Pearl Izumi Kissaki (2012)

Kissaki refers to the tip of a Japanase sword, and the imagery is of a shoe meant to go fast.

The Kissaki feels a lot like the Iso Transition, reviewed here four months ago, just with a thicker midsole. What I like about the Iso Transition is its very responsive and active cushioning. It has a very pleasant kind of springy bounce to it.

The Kissaki also has a nice springy bounce, but now with a thicker midsole that gives your feet some extra protection. The midsole/outsole is built with 3 flex zones in the forefoot that will give a pleasant toe-off. No restrictions here.

This shoe has a 9mm ramp, with a heel height of 19mm and a forefoot of 10mm. And here is the strange thing. This is only 1mm of extra material in comparison to the Iso Transition, but it feels like there is about 4mm of extra material. This shoe is just that comfortable. But since the "extra" material isn't really there—it just feels like it is—this shoe is still very light at little over 9oz in a men's size 9.

The upper is a new design with a semi-mono tongue. It's similar to the first Adidas Aegis, from a few seasons ago. The tongue is a one-piece construction on the medial side of the upper and wraps around your feet to the lateral side. It hugs the foot and I've always liked this style of upper. The upper is also seamless with special bonding on the supportive overlays. This makes this shoe very suitable for running without socks. The upper on the Kissaki is a little wider then on the Iso Transition and more suitable for runners with wider feet, or for those who just like a roomier toe box.

With the ramp of 9mm it fits a little in between shoes built for midfoot strikers versus those made for heel strikers. It seems a strategic choice.

The Kissaki might be an excellent shoe for a heavier runner who wants a racing flat with a little more cushioning and protection; or, a very nice training shoe for the lighter runner.

Pearl Izumi has thrown in with the current color blocking fad, and is debuting the Kissaki in several colors consistent with that. Not hip to the color blocking jive? With 3 men's (one of which is pictured above) and 3 women's color schemes (one adjacent) there must be one that you like.

[Editor's note: Our capable editor-at-large for footwear Jeroen van Geelen owns Total Running, one of the more important running and triathlon retail establishments in The Netherlands.]