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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbround Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Gravel Shoes

Old 05-09-21, 10:03 AM
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Motorazr
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Gravel Shoes

In a search for THE right gravel shoes, I ruled out road shoes because of my desire to walk in them plus I wanted double-sided SPD pedals. In off-road cycling shoes, I tried the following six models (clock-wise from top left):
  • Shimano MT7 - $150, 730g
  • Shimano MT5 - $110, 690g
  • Scott MTB Comp Boa Reflective - $120, 740g
  • Giro Gauge - $85, 812g
  • Giro Ranger - $100, 630g
  • Giro Ventana Fastlace - $130, 816g

Both of the Shimano MTB shoes were chunkier than desired and not very stiff. I also tried the Shimano XC3 ($120, 664g) and XC5 ($170, 596g) Cross-Country shoes but ultimately found that I preferred the fit and construction of the Scott MTB shoes (found at $100, 740g in Black or Red without the reflective feature). Shimano rates their MTB shoes as "stiffness index 4" on their own 0-12 stiffness scale. I noted that Shimano recommends large-platform, caged SPD pedals like the PD-M8120 and T8000 for use with their MTB shoes. You have to go up to a "stiffness index 6" before Shimano recommends shoes for use with bare SPD pedals like the PD-M520/M540/M8100

The Giro Gauge is noticeably heavy and the lace holes aren't eyeletted which means that it takes a lot of lace pulling to tighten or loosen. Plus, like the Ventana Boa/Ventana Fastlace, the upper fabric has reviews critical of it's durability. The Gauge and Ventana are both wider than many shoes. The Ranger was a surprise - very comfortable and seemingly well-made plus being the second lightest after the Shimano XC5's. Both the Giro Gauge and Ranger came with a flat, die-cut insole which is lame. I normally wear a size US-11 and I tried all the shoes in size EU-46. Giro's size chart says EU-46 is equivalent to a US-12 though and indeed the Giro shoes were all too large for me. If I wanted a velcro strap shoe, I would definitely have reordered the Giro Ranger in a smaller size and tried again. Ultimately, the fastening system I most wanted was a Boa on top with a velcro lower strap. Like some higher-end shoes, the Scott MTB shoes also optionally allow the wearer to double the bottom Boa lace for asymmetrical tightening across the instep which I found to be a useful feature.

Only one shoe is shown here with a SPD cleat attached - the other shoes are all being returned as tried-on but unused.


six off-road cycling shoe models
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Old 05-09-21, 10:13 AM
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I ride Shimano XC5 shoes on my gravel bike. Great shoe and no too stiff for walking!
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Old 05-09-21, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Clipped_in View Post
I ride Shimano XC5 shoes on my gravel bike. Great shoe and no too stiff for walking!
All-black sports shoes remind me of the cheap shoes you buy kids knowing they'll only last one season. The XC5 in blue looks great though and the women's version has an extra flare that many women will like.

I wish all sports shoes with toe-cleats used a single standard for the attachment bolts. It would be great to be able to use inexpensive football or soccer toe-cleats in a cycling shoe. Specialized sells toe-cleats in a bag of 20 for $20 which seems steep. Anyone know of an inexpensive sports shoe cleat that fits a cycling shoe?
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Old 05-09-21, 11:28 AM
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If you want stiff, you're gonna pay for it. Specialized S-Works Recon are the absolute stiffest shoes I've ridden on an SPD-MT platform. I ride these shoes on both gravel and XC MTB. Big toe box (fits nice thick wool socks int he winter), with an upper that wears like a glove with two independent bead closures. No idea what they cost in the states, but I guess based on a 379€ price tag here, they're gonna be north of $400. Worth every penny, in my opinion.
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Old 05-09-21, 11:40 AM
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Yet they go with everything, like black bib shorts.
0 desire to have multiple pairs of shoes in order to match/not clash.
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Old 05-09-21, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Badger6 View Post
If you want stiff, you're gonna pay for it. Specialized S-Works Recon are the absolute stiffest shoes I've ridden on an SPD-MT platform. I ride these shoes on both gravel and XC MTB. Big toe box (fits nice thick wool socks int he winter), with an upper that wears like a glove with two independent bead closures. No idea what they cost in the states, but I guess based on a 379 price tag here, they're gonna be north of $400. Worth every penny, in my opinion.
Here in the USA...

Specialized Recon 1.0 = $110, 662g
Specialized Recon 2.0 = $160, 714g
Specialized Recon 3.0 = $225, 710g
Specialized S-Works Recon = $425, 540g

Last edited by Motorazr; 05-09-21 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 05-09-21, 01:53 PM
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I like a wider toe box, so I always look at Specialized first. I'd prioritize your requirements for weight, fit, closure mechanism, arch support, durability etc., as it's unlikely you'll ever find the perfect Goldilocks shoe in every area. Have you looked at Sidi?
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Old 05-09-21, 01:56 PM
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I've been using the past few generations of Shimano XC7s and I like them a lot.
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Old 05-09-21, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
I like a wider toe box, so I always look at Specialized first. I'd prioritize your requirements for weight, fit, closure mechanism, arch support, durability etc., as it's unlikely you'll ever find the perfect Goldilocks shoe in every area. Have you looked at Sidi?
The various Giro shoes I tried were generally the widest. I tried several Specialized MTB shoes at the LBS and none of those fit me better than the Scott shoes which were my benchmark to beat. The Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit shoeswere a close second. I did not consider any Sidi shoes.



Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit
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Old 05-09-21, 06:05 PM
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I recently bought the Giro Sector shoes. I've only ridden them a few times but I like them a lot so far. They are light, comfortable and plenty stiff, but not so stiff that they get uncomfortable. I had to go up a full size to get the right fit. They also breathe really well. I had ordered a pair of Fizik Vento X3s, but they didn't fit as well (which surprised me because I wear Fizik road shoes). The Fiziks are *extremely* stiff -- pure race shoes I would say. The Giro's seemed much more practical for recreational riding, but I do not notice any flex when I ride at all. The only downside of the Giros is that they have the dumb kind of Boa ratchets that you can't loosen one notch at a time if they are a little too tight. You have to completely loosen them and start over with the tightening. It's not a big deal though and it's easy enough to do while you are riding. It just seems kind of puzzling for a new shoe at that price point. I guess that's the other downside - the price. Personally, I think shoes are an underrated component both in terms of performance and comfort, so spending an extra $70 seems worth it to me.
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Old 05-09-21, 07:19 PM
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Very timely topic for me as I was researching shoes this afternoon. I think I have settled on S-Works Recon because they are stuff and light, plus I own the S-Works 7 road shoes and I like them. I really didn't want to spend that kind of money but I also don't want 700 gram shoes, The only issue now is finding on a pair to try on as most shops are not open for trying on cycling gear and I don't want to do online for shoes or clothing.
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Old 05-09-21, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by mattcalifornia View Post
The only downside of the Giro (Sector) is that they have the dumb kind of Boa ratchets that you can't loosen one notch at a time if they are a little too tight. You have to completely loosen them and start over with the tightening. It's not a big deal though and it's easy enough to do while you are riding. It just seems kind of puzzling for a new shoe at that price point.
My understanding is that the Giro Sector is made on the same last as the highly-rated Giro Empire VR90 shoes and so feel much the same but whereas the VR90 is 630g for the pair, the Sector is 684g - still pretty light.

Boa offers the common L6 mirrored, unidirectional fastener and the IP1 which turns in both directions. Its a nice concept but the mechanicals are very different. Whereas the L6 is reliable enough for off-road use, the internals of the IP1 are necessarily more sensitive and thus less reliable in dirty environments. Perhaps Giros use of the L6 is less about price and more about reliability in mud. I dont know but its a strong possibility.

Edit; In 2020, IP1 was succeeded in the lineup by Boas newer Li2 fastener. Not only is the slimmer Li2 more durable (made from a new glass fibre and polycarbonate composite) but its supposed to have improved dirt-handling over the IP1.

The Li2 can have one of three dial types; a smaller type A for dual-dial shoes, type B for a low-profile aero look, and type C with a larger-diameter dial and faster lace uptake.

Last edited by Motorazr; 05-09-21 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 05-09-21, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
I have settled on S-Works Recon because they are stuff and light, plus I own the S-Works 7 road shoes and I like them. I really didn't want to spend that kind of money but I also don't want 700 gram shoes.
The S-Works Recon shoes ($425 at 540g for the pair) are highly regarded. Quadrupling cost to save 200g isnt for everyone though.
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Old 05-09-21, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Motorazr View Post
My understanding is that the Giro Sector is made on the same last as the highly-rated Giro Empire VR90 shoes and so feel much the same but whereas the VR90 is 630g for the pair, the Sector is 684g - still pretty light.

Boa offers the common L6 mirrored, unidirectional fastener and the IP1 which turns in both directions. Its a nice concept but the mechanicals are very different. Whereas the L6 is reliable enough for off-road use, the internals of the IP1 are necessarily more sensitive and thus less reliable in dirty environments. Perhaps Giros use of the L6 is less about price and more about reliability in mud. I dont know but its a strong possibility.
My Garneau Granite 2 shoes have IP1s boa lacing and they work perfectly fine so far after unknown miles of gravel and pavement.
I don't know what the 's' means at the end of IP1s, but the ones I have twist to tighten and twist the other way to loosen.

My old shoes, which were the same model, used a more basic boa where it tightened then to loosen you had to pull up then push down and re-ratchet the lacing.

The old simpler versio was flawless for thousands of miles. I expect the higher level version to do the same. Pretty bad design if an mtb shoe can't handle dust.
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Old 05-09-21, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Motorazr View Post
My understanding is that the Giro Sector is made on the same last as the highly-rated Giro Empire VR90 shoes and so feel much the same but whereas the VR90 is 630g for the pair, the Sector is 684g - still pretty light.

Boa offers the common L6 mirrored, unidirectional fastener and the IP1 which turns in both directions. Its a nice concept but the mechanicals are very different. Whereas the L6 is reliable enough for off-road use, the internals of the IP1 are necessarily more sensitive and thus less reliable in dirty environments. Perhaps Giros use of the L6 is less about price and more about reliability in mud. I dont know but its a strong possibility.
Interesting -- that's good information!
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Old 05-09-21, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
My Garneau Granite 2 shoes have IP1s boa lacing and they work perfectly fine so far after unknown miles of gravel and pavement.
I don't know what the 's' means at the end of IP1s, but the ones I have twist to tighten and twist the other way to loosen.
I looked and couldnt find any detail about how the IP1-S is different from the IP1. Both fasteners were eclipsed in late 2020 by the updated Li2 model.
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Old 05-10-21, 02:23 AM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Very timely topic for me as I was researching shoes this afternoon. I think I have settled on S-Works Recon because they are stuff and light, plus I own the S-Works 7 road shoes and I like them. I really didn't want to spend that kind of money but I also don't want 700 gram shoes, The only issue now is finding on a pair to try on as most shops are not open for trying on cycling gear and I don't want to do online for shoes or clothing.
Same fit as SW7, whatever size those are will be the correct size for the SW Recon.

I had the same concerns, until I was able to try them. I was a 44.5 in the SW6 and the SW XC. When I purchased the 7s, I went down to 44. When I tried the SW Recon, 44 was the size. Recons are pricy, and they are absolutely the best XC/gravel shoe I have used...heck, I even commute in them. Stiffness is the key for comfort, not just power transfer.
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Old 05-10-21, 07:56 AM
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I was searching for more comfortable shoes a few years ago and tried on some Giro Rangers at my LBS. They felt great walking around in the store, but as soon as I screwed on cleats and took them out on a ride I realized how flexy and heavy they felt. These shoes are good for casual riding, but they made me quickly realize that I prefer a much stiffer race-oriented MTB shoe. They have mostly collected dust in my basement since.

In response to that, I bought a pair of Sidi Drako's. They are awesome, super stiff and light. I rode these shoes for years including many seasons of CX racing and found them to work very well. A few months ago I got a pair of Fizik Terra X5's which I would say are somewhere in between the Sidi's and the Giro Rangers. The Terra X5 is still pretty light and stiff, but has a bit of flex so they're way easier to walk in, and they are more comfortable for longer rides. They have a bit less venting and more room in the toe box, so they're a lot better for cool weather riding. The Sidi's fit tight, so I can only wear thin socks with them, whereas the Fizik's have a bit more wiggle room.
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Old 05-10-21, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
I bought a pair of Sidi Drako's. They are awesome, super stiff and light. I rode these shoes for years including many seasons of CX racing and found them to work very well.
I found a quoted weight of 550g which - given the number of bolt-on features, I assume is per shoe making for a whopping 1100g - and $499 for the pair, the current Sidi Drako 2 SRS is an impressive-looking shoe with adjustable heel cups and a long list of replacement parts available including the rubber outsole lugs. If one is willing to spend over $500 for a pair of shoes, the slimmer and stiffer Sidi Jarin ($550 at 760g) is even more highly-rated though too stiff to walk in for some. Fortunately, Sidi does make MTB shoes under $250 like the Trace 2, Defender, or SD15 but none of them appear to be super light-weight. All good-looking shoes though with lots of foot protection. The one store near me with Sidi cycling shoes only had odd-ball sizes available but at deeply discounted prices.

Last edited by Motorazr; 05-14-21 at 04:01 AM.
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Old 05-10-21, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Motorazr View Post
At a whopping 1100g and $499 for the pair, the Sidi Drako 2 SRS is an impressive-looking shoe with adjustable heel cups and a long list of replacement parts available including the rubber outsole lugs. If one is willing to spend over $500 for a pair of shoes, the slimmer and stiffer Sidi Jarin ($550 at 760g) is even more highly-rated though too stiff to walk in for some. Fortunately, Sidi does make MTB shoes under $250 like the Trace 2, Defender, or SD15 but none of them are light-weight. All good-looking shoes though with lots of foot protection. The one store near me with Sidi cycling shoes only had odd-ball sizes available but at deeply discounted prices.
I definitely did not pay $500 for my Sidi's, nor do they weigh 1100 grams.
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Old 05-10-21, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
I definitely did not pay $500 for my Sidi's, nor do they weigh 1100 grams.
Look at the pattern here. The OP criticizes every comment that doesn't support his original post. In your case he makes up data to "prove" his point. He started the same thread on Gravel Forum and the negative comments have started.
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Old 05-10-21, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Look at the pattern here. The OP criticizes every comment that doesn't support his original post. In your case he makes up data to "prove" his point. He started the same thread on Gravel Forum and the negative comments have started.

I just checked my order history. I bought my Sidi Drako SRS Carbon shoes (size 45) from Performance Bike in 2017 for $299.
I've never put them on a scale, but according to this review I found on Velonews, a size 45 weighs 380 grams per shoe, or 760g total.
https://www.velonews.com/gear/sidi-d...-loss-program/

I find it hard to believe these weigh more than the Giro Ranger (the OP claims 630g for a size 46), but I've never put my Giro Ragners on a scale either, so I guess it's possible.
Also, I've never really thought about how much my shoes weigh until reading this thread.
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Old 05-11-21, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
Also, I've never really thought about how much my shoes weigh until reading this thread.
I never thought about shoe weight until a few years ago when I bought some Lake MTB shoes off the old Nashbar. Holyhell were they boat anchors. It was just goofy how much they weighed. I didnt notice on my trainer bike, but once I would walk around it was noticed. I swapped em out and havent thought about shoe weight since. 6 different brand/models of shoes and ive only thought about the weight of 1.
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Old 05-11-21, 08:52 AM
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My current but not used anymore 2 bolt shimano shoes weigh in at 1092 grams for the pair. Too heavy for my liking but at least they taught me that I don't like heavy shoes.
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Old 05-11-21, 09:59 AM
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well now I want to go and way all my bike shoes...
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