High performance racing bicycle technology and technique
Cyclocross - Shoes for Cyclocross
Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

 

Shoes for Cyclocross

 

Simon Whiten

 

Here’s our guide to buying Shoes for Cyclocross

 

Over the last year or so we have tested as number of off-road shoes with cyclocross in mind (though of course there is no reason that couldn’t read ‘with mountain bike cross country in mind’). We wondered whether you should you buy one of the new breed of cyclocross specific shoes which appeared last year, or go for an expensive carbon soled mtb shoe, or plump for a cheaper, more flexible soled mtb shoe that neither you nor your wallet would mind losing to a season of mud…?

 

As far as cyclcross specific shoes go Rob Allen tested the Pearl Izumi X Project shoes with the clever stiff-for-pedalling yet flexible-for-running sole. Rob was impressed by the Pearl Izumi’s comfort scoring them full marks, 5 out of 5. For durability he also scored it 5. Running Performance was always going to be a strong point of these shoes and of course, they scored 5. However, Pedalling Performance was a 4, as teough excellent they are not carbon, soled road shoe good, which is the benchmark. Rob also thought that they offered excellent value for money, giving them another 5.
 

Pearl Izumi X-Project Shoes

Best of both worlds? The Pearl Izumi X-Project Shoes


 
Tackling cyclocross from a completely different angle, Lake’s super stiff, almost naked-carbon soled MX331 Cross shoes were reviewed by Tim Granshaw. Interestingly he also gave a 5 out of 5 for Comfort, as the soles are heat mouldable allowing him to dial in the fit. He says, “Easily the best shoes I’ve worn period, whether an hour cross race or a 7 hour mixed condition ride.” Praise indeed. For Durability he awarded a 4, declaring them to be ‘tough’.  “The soles scuff as they are pure exposed carbon, but nothing has broken despite some abuse.” For Running Performance he gave them a mediocre 3, though did say, “For cross they are fine. They have no flex in sole though, so anything more than a short run, is not ideal.  Fantastic spike options on heel and toe.” Unsurprisingly for Pedalling Performance they got 5 out of 5, “Superb.  Pretty much a road shoe.” As far as Price goes they got a 4. “Not cheap, but worth every penny.”
 
The ultimate cross shoe? Maybe...

The ultimate cross shoe? Maybe…


 
Tim also tested the SiDi Spiders. For Comfort he gave them a 4, declaring them to be “Pretty good. Not Lake-like, but buckle and velcro system is tried and true.” For Durability they got a big fat 5, being described as “Bulletproof.” They performed well in terms of Running Performance with a 4. “Flexible toe and capacity for various spike combinations. Not as aggressive as Lake.” Pedalling Performance was also a 4. “Good for a mountain bike shoe. Not as good as Lake.” And Price also a 4. “A solid, standard setting shoe good for mountain biking and cross. Wish it had a heat moldable sole.”
 
SiDi spider
 
Yet another approach confronted our next reviewer, Paul Hopkins, who had the neoprene lined, boot-like Northwave Hammer CX shoes on trial. For Comfort in cross racing 5, though he did say that for longer rides he’d only have awarded a 4. For Durability so far they got a 4, Paul noting that there was a small tear from a chainring on neoprene. For Running Paul scored them a 5 in races, as ” the long toe spikes give plenty of grip. Longer walking is uncomfortable.” In terms of Pedalling they get a 4 as they are “plenty stiff, what else can I say?” They get a big 5 for value for money.
 
After 4 hours of mud and cack ,my feet are clean and happy, well done Northwave Hammer CX

After 4 hours of mud and cack , my feet are clean and happy, well done Northwave Hammer CX


 
Peter Cole put the distinctive blue Shimano XC90 shoes through their paces. He was really impressed with the overall comfort of the shoe and has been using them for everything from commuting thru mountain biking trail riding to cyclocross. He rated Durability at a 4 as felt the shoes were let down by the non-replaceable polyurethane heel tread. The stiff sole scored a 4 for Running Performance though Peter only really noticed this as a hindrance on hard surfaces. Of course this same feature scored the shoes a 5 for Pedalling Performance. As far as Value for Money goes Pete felt that the shoes warranted a 4. They are expensive but you get what you pay for.
 
Shimano XC90

Shimano XC90 shoes


 

These are all (arguably) purpose made high end ‘cross shoes. However, given the adverse conditions facing any cross shoe over a muddy winter, the alternative for the amateur racer on a budget is to buy a cheaper mountain bike shoe and to that end Mark Tearle tested the no-nonsense, value for money Lake MX160 to see if such a shoe would be up to the job. Obviously you get what you oay for, and Mark awarded just 2 for Comfort. However, they score well for Durability, with a 4, as you might expect from Lake. Their Running Performance was below average with a 2, whilst Pedalling Performance was an average 3. In terms of value for money they get a 5 though as they are inexpensive kicks.
 

Lake MX160 features Action Leather uppers with mesh panelling and a chunky rubber sole.

Lake MX160 features Action Leather uppers with mesh panelling and a chunky rubber sole.


 
Of course we are not just stopping here but aim to test the long-term performance of all of these shoes and add to this list by reviewing a few more shoes in cyclocross and winter MTB XC type scenarios as well. It’s not possible to pick a winner as, perhaps with the exception of Mark, each reviewer strongly defends their shoe and the features which define it, even though we have found that no one shoe can excel in all areas of cyclocross. Perhaps that is the takeaway message here: decide what you want above all else – pedalling power, running performance, durability, comfortable, cost effectiveness – and buy a shoe to fit the bill. To help here’s a summary of the scores so far, with links to the Previews and Reviews that our team wrote on each shoe…

 

Shoe Comfort Durability Running Performance Pedalling Performance Price Link to Preview Link to Review
Pearl Izumi X Project55545PreviewReview
Lake MX33154354PreviewReview
SiDi Spider45444N/AReview
Northwave Hammer CX54545PreviewReview
Shimano XC9054454PreviewReview
Lake MX16024235PreviewReview

 

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