Diadora X-Country 2 Review
By Dan Saunders
27th December 2012
Bearing in mind what you are likely to subject them to, you may not feel completely comfortable spending big money on a pair of shoes for cyclo-cross; after all its almost impossible to protect them as you might your road shoes. Certainly in wet, muddy regions mid-range shoes make a lot more sense to the average cyclo-cross racer. With this in mind Dan Saunders reviews the Diadora X-Country 2.
The Diadora X-Country 2 is mid-range shoe that offers a strong set of features without breaking the bank. The off-road construction lends itself to being a strong cyclo-cross shoe, while the price puts it in reach of those looking for a more advanced commuter shoe. The affordability also means you won’t feel too bad diving in to the mud and muck of cyclo-cross – but will they hold up?
In my experience, shoes, like saddles, are probably one of the most personal choices when it comes to bike accessories. They are the connection between you and the bike. A good pair of shoes is something you enjoy for many years. A bad pair of shoes will have you cursing your bad luck and looking for your receipt and the return policy. For me, shoes have always been a bit of a problem. My feet don’t fit the typical narrow cyclist shape that most major brands seem to design for. This has led to my using shoes that are a size too large to accommodate my width, leaving me to dealing with fore/aft shifting, as well as trying on more pairs of shoes than I care to admit…
My history with sizing issues attracted me to the Diadora X-Country 2 which features their FORMA REGULAR PLUS sizing. The FORMA REGULAR PLUS sizing utilizes the same technologies as Diadora’s FORMA REGULAR RACE, but offers a wider toe box for riders with wider feet.
However, the first thing you notice with the X-Country 2s is the way that they look; the test pair are finished in black synthetic leather which has a carbon weave pattern on it that keep it current with today’s styling, but to my eyes, some of the white details almost push it back a couple of decades in appearance. The 2013 Diadora X-Country 2 is also available in white, red and blue or white and silver.
The racing pedigree of the shoes is clear: for instance while Diadora were kind enough to include a small reflective detail on the back of the heel, it certainly could have been given more real estate to better help visibility. The shoes also weigh in at a race-worthy 370 grams.
But, as with most shoes, the fit is the important thing. Right out of the box, the Diadora X-Country 2 is comfortable and feels like a shoe I have had for a while. The supple tongue is a major contributor to this, but the rest of the shoe’s uppers, made of Diadora’s Suprell material and reinforced by their Morpho AM Cage, have a worn in feel to them that makes it a very comfortable shoe to wear. As mentioned before one of the best things, for me, about the Diadora X-County 2 is that they are designed for somewhat higher volume feet, using what Diadora refers to as their ‘Regular Plus’ last. They are by no means a ‘wide’ shoe, but the lasts that they use to create these are clearly not the Italian standards and end up fitting my feet without requiring me to size up looking for extra width. Thankfully, all of this is mated to a supportive sole that holds strong during pedaling, but not so stiff that walking after a commute, or more importantly sprinting over a barrier in ‘cross, is awkward.
The outsole of the X-Country 2 has the usual array of features that you expect from a MTB shoe: SPD-style cleat ready, anchors for toe spikes (not included), and some serious traction by way of Diadora’s fiberglass reinforced thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) outsole. While the traction is weighted more heavily under the heel than it is under the forefoot, there is still ample traction for getting through most off-the-bike situations. The shallower traction in the forefoot also keeps the mud from building up in cyclocross situations; there’s nothing worse than staring down a 200 foot run-up with shoes weighed down with mud, right? Diadora also includes traction through the midsection of the foot – handy for those moments when you may have to pedal but aren’t clipped in. In action, the power transfer of the X-Country2 is solid; hammering out of the saddle feels good and you don’t feel as if you’re slipping around at all.
One of the more distinguishing features of the X-Country 2 is the buckle/strap system. While most off-road shoes employ 2 velcro straps and a ratcheting buckled strap of some sort, or 3 velcro straps, Diadora took a slightly different approach and combined the top two straps together on a buckling strap, something they call ‘V-Fit Adjust’. While the V-Fit Adjust takes a little finessing to get the fit right initially, once you have it dialed in, you are left wondering why everyone else isn’t doing this. The convenience of a single strap combined with the security of Diadora’s Micrometric buckle makes this a very easy shoe to get in and out of. And, since it is a buckled strap, you don’t have to worry about your Velcro losing its hold over time. Diadora does still employ the standard Velcro strap over the toes.
Out on training rides and the daily commute, I noticed that the shoe’s ventilation is effective, despite looking like the designers may have forgotten to design ventilation into the shoe. As a matter of fact, the shoes do breathe very well and have been effective in keeping my feet from overheating while on the road.
So, in the end, does the Diadora X-Country 2 get my stamp of approval? Definitely. They may not be top of the line shoes with all the bells and whistles, but they don’t pretend to be. Instead, they’re an absolutely solid off-road shoe with some practical technology that works great for cyclo-cross as well as something as simple as the daily commute.
The Diadora X-Country 2 are reasonably priced, easing the pain of replacement and are comfortable right out of the box, making them ideal for cyclo-cross.
Price: £119.99 / $149.99 (msrp)