I've known about Giro’s Terraduro Mid shoes for almost a year now. I would have covered them sooner, but let’s face it. They’re kinda ugly. It's like a regular ugly pair of shoes got a skin graft from another, uglier pair of shoes.
Then I tried them on, and suddenly they were beautiful.
There was a pair with my name on them at this year's Bible of Bike Tests, and now they've earned a permanent spot in my footwear rotation. The all-mountain-oriented kicks are among Giro's many lace-up offerings, and those laces explain the Terraduro Mids' fashion faux pas. Their full-coverage Velcro straps protect their sensitive shoestrings, making this a clear case of form following function. Although it’s hard to beat the speed and durability of straps, buckles, and BOA-style closure systems, it's just as hard to beat the fine-tunability and comfort of laces.
All lace-up shoes allow the same custom fit, and many of them have the same big ugly strap. But curling off the edge of the Terraduro Mid's strap and all the way around your ankle is a wide strip of soft, flexible neoprene, which offers a few cool benefits. First, it makes the Terraduro Mids feel like they're a part of you. Like they're an extension of your socks and therefore of your foot itself. And they feel that way right out of the box. My shoes always tend to require some painful breaking in around the ankle, but there's no edge and no pressure when getting to know the Terraduro Mids. As a little bonus, that ankle material happens to keep trail debris from falling into the shoe.
The design also makes it easier to slip your shoes on and off without tying them, though I still take the time to do so. You can surely set ’em and forget ’em, and they’ll have the feel of the perfect pair of skate shoes. But that may not be what you want. If these would be your first clip-in lace-ups in a while, take heed. I happen to prefer to keep my shoes tight. When I pull to pedal, unweight, or jump, I think the more direct the connection, the better. That’s why I choose to tie and untie the Terraduro Mids every time. Sometimes I may even need a quick re-adjustment five minutes into the ride. It’s a pain, but it’s worth it, especially on days I know I’ll be in (and out of) the saddle all day.
And of course, there’s more to these shoes than just how you put them on. The Vibraim outsole is shaped somewhere between a traditional XC shoe and a low-tech flat-pedal stomper. It’s got a wide stable platform that grips the ground, though it isn’t exactly designed to dig into it. Structurally, that sole is relatively stiff. They hike like riding shoes, not like hiking shoes, though the deep, flexible ankle keeps your heel from crawling out every step and the wide outsole keeps your ankle from having to fight to stay upright.
There’s no sign of tear or wear after my two months in the Terraduro Mids. I expected to see the soft edge around the ankle to start threatening to fail, but it seems to deflect rather than catch on my trails’ heavy overgrowth. And the piece of it that may catch a crankarm or chainstay once in a while is just an extension of the shoe itself, protecting the material and your ankle at once. However odd-looking, the Terraduro Mids have been a valuable addition to my garage floor. And the dirtier they get, the more they’ve started to blend in.