Cyclocross is all about maximum power–both when pedaling and also when off your bike running up hills, through sand, or over barriers. You need a shoe that can deliver all around performance–Pearl Izumi built the X-Project with just that in mind.
It took over two years for Pearl Izumi to get the X-Project design just right. They started with a soccer cleat and asked how they could make a bike shoe that offered the same off bike performance without sacrificing any on bike performance.
To make it work, the X-Project 2.0 uses a full length carbon fiber plate that varies in thickness and width depending on its position under your foot. This means the shoe stays stiff and rigid when your are pedaling for optimum power transfer, but flexes in the right places when you need to hike or run. Aggressive, rubber tipped lugs (non-replaceable) help you dig into varying terrain for traction in mud and wet grass.
And even better, the bike shoes come with screw in toe cleats for extra running traction. I was cruising up muddy hills during my cyclocross race, where many other people slipped with bike in hand. Both the lugs and toe cleats are low profile enough to stay out of the way of your SPD cleats so as not to create problems when trying to quickly clip back in to your pedals.
Some extra EVA foam padding on the heel helps to absorb impact when you are running off the bike. The buckle closure, along with a substantial foot bed with three interchangeable arch wedges, work together to dial in a custom fit and keep your foot comfortably in place. Velcro tends to get full of gunk and can become less useful over time–the 2015 model will ditch both the buckle and most of the velcro straps for a Boa closure instead.
The X-Project 2.0 serve double duty on my mountain bike for riding all the trails here in Marin. There is enough stiffness to keep your feet from hurting on all day epics, something that happens regularly with my soft soled shoes. I would have loved to ride the X-Project for the Chequamegon.
For extremely technical hike-a-bike terrain, such as you might find in Colorado, I will probably stick to my Teva Pivots or Five Ten Freeriders. Yes, I lose some power when pedaling, but the grippy soles are more comforting when climbing up and over rock with my bike rather than potentially skating around on carbon fiber soles.
Bottom Line: For cyclocross or even XC mountain biking, any of the bike shoes in Pearl Izumi X-Project line will make a great match.
The Pearl Izumi X-Project 2.0 retail for $210 and are available now (with some great sales–$84!).