Showcase: 6 Shoes To Kickstart Your Ride

From Lake Cycling, Five Ten, Shimano, Scott, Mavic, and Giro

This story originally appeared in the March 2014 Issue of BIKE, which can be downloaded or back-ordered HERE.



Lake Cycling has been through its share of ups and downs in recent years due to changes in its U.S. distribution and the closure of Veltec Sports, its former owner. The company re-emerged at the Sea Otter Classic in 2013 with new Dutch owners and a revamped product line. A standout in the mountain-bike category is the MX331, a carbon-soled, Kangaroo-leather shoe with all-mountain riders in mind. It uses a BOA closure, which is easy to adjust. After three months of regular wear, I have not experienced any jamming or other problems with the micro-adjust dial, and the fit feels snug without being overly tight. An internal carbon-fiber heel adds extra support in the back, and makes for a secure fit. The carbon sole is liberally covered with Lake's Real Rubber Outsole, which I appreciated while navigating steep, rocky trail in Sedona when losing my footing could have landed me at the bottom of a ravine. A small chunk of the rubber heel pad started to come off of one shoe after several months, but the pad is replaceable. The MX 331 is among the most expensive shoes on the market, but if you're prepared to plunk down for quality, they are worth considering. –Nicole Formosa



Five Ten is most famous for its Stealth rubber compounds. When Charles Cole, founder of the brand, created a better climbing shoe nearly 30 years ago, bicycles were probably the last thing on his mind. But it made perfect sense to put the same incredibly sticky rubber on the bottom of a flat-pedal shoe. Five Ten has been in the bike game since 2000, and there's still no substitute for Stealth. In addition to some of the best flat-pedal shoes out there, Five Ten also makes a few clipless models, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on the new Maltese Falcon Race. The first thing I noticed when I put them on was their weight. They're lighter, yet stiffer than previous Falcons, while offering better lace coverage and toe protection. Looking at them, it doesn't seem like they ventilate very well, but they're actually not bad. The silver-colored material on the upper is a thin mesh that breathes pretty well. It's no cross-country racing shoe, but you can actually walk in them without looking like you're on a hockey rink. The Falcon has great pedaling efficiency, extraordinary hiking grip and plenty of protection in a lightweight and compact package. –Ryan Palmer



Shimano's new top-tier cross-country shoe is an ultra stiff and lightweight racing shoe that maximizes power transfer and efficiency, but that doesn't mean it can't be comfortable. There's a lot of technology in these things. With heat-moldable footbeds and uppers, these kicks offer a level of fit typically reserved for ski boots. Retention includes a micro-adjust ratchet and two opposing Velcro straps that pull from opposite sides of the shoe. This is supposed to secure the top of the foot while mitigating stress zones. Shimano's R&D found that reducing the toe angle from a traditionally shaped last diminishes stress on the plantar, hamstring and calf. Combining this with a heel cup that keeps the foot planted, you can apply power for a longer part of the pedal stroke. I don't know about all the technology, what I do know is that putting the SH-90 on felt like jumping in a racecar. They don't flex at all, delivering power straight to the bike, and somehow, pedaling all day in them is a pleasure. Walking in them, not so much. But that's not the point. These shoes were meant for pedaling, and that's just what they'll do. –RP



The Scott A.T.R is a really cool shoe. Just like the Mavic Crossmax, it's a mix between a cross-country shoe and hiking boot, though it's much more on the hiking boot side of the spectrum. With its lightweight, highly ventilated construction and BOA closure, the upper looks like it was taken straight from a racing shoe. The sole, however, is much softer, which makes off-the-bike jaunts a pleasure. The A.T.R walks a lot like the Giro and Five Ten, but it comes in a more compact package. Traction is handled by a grippy, Vibram rubber outsole with moderately sized lugs. The slipper-like upper encased my foot without it feeling trapped, which made it the most comfortable and best-ventilated shoe I tested. My only criticism is the lack of toe protection. For such a rugged shoe, a beefed-up toe would be a nice addition. Despite the walkability of the A.T.R, it's perfectly happy pedaling all day without resulting in hot spots or sore feet, like overly flexy shoes tend to do. I used them with Shimano pedals, and had no problems with the cleat/pedal interface. The A.T. R is a phenomenal shoe with a fast and proven retention system and all-day comfort. –RP



The Mavic Crossmax Enduro shoe was designed for, as the name implies, enduro racing—which in fact, means that it's perfect for most of us—the everyday mountain biker. Not long ago, if a mountain bike shoe was good off the bike, it was crap on the bike, and vice versa. Enduro racing is spawning the seemingly obvious marriage of these two extremes. Racers, just like everyday riders, need stiffness for pedaling efficiency, impact protection for toes and ankles, and actual rubber lugs for traction off the bike. Sounds like exactly what I've always wanted but could never get. How do the Crossmax Enduro shoes fare? Very well, I'd say. They cover the bases with plenty of toe and ankle protection, stiff soles and big rubber lugs. Additional features include the quick-lacing system covered by a handy Velcro cover, micro-adjust ratchet and neoprene ankle bootie. Although the hard-rubber lugs are great in the dry, they lack the traction on wet surfaces that a softer rubber might have. This isn't a deal breaker for me, but it could be improved. The Mavic Crossmax Enduro is solid and versatile shoe whether you're entering Megavalanche or spinning along backyard trails. –RP



I first strapped on the Chamber, Giro's new clipless downhill shoe this past October. Not three minutes into the first run, I snagged a tree and was bleeding all over my new kicks. But that wouldn't keep me down. What would, however was my next crash—for a couple days. We didn't have a great first ride together, but every ride since has made up for that first crappy day. Other than being bloodstained and dirty, the Chambers look new. Construction is solid, and features include an internal bootie for a secure fit, tough EVA midsole and Vibram outsole, which offers plenty of traction, and, like the upper, still looks new. The internal bootie really cradles the foot and does a good job of keeping pebbles and things out, but may be too snug around the arch for some people. I noticed some arch pain after a few hours in saddle, but that's not to say you will. All said, I'm a fan of the Chamber. Sure, it's designed for downhill, but the Chamber is tough as nails, stiff enough for pedaling and comfortable enough to walk in making it the perfect everyday riding shoe. –RP