Over the last few months I've lamented the many pairs of mountain bike shoes that I've had that haven't met my expectations. Since I retired my Specialized Comp Carbons I haven't gotten more than a season out of a single pair of shoes.
Last week my new Gaerne G.Keiras arrived, and I'm hopeful that my search is over. If the mild winter weather continues I might be able to get some time on these in the next few weeks, but I won't post a full review until I have some real hours on them after the season gets rolling.
Right out of the box I noticed the quality of these shoes. They have a very solid feel, and by that I mean that although the uppers are lightweight and breathable they hold their shape and have a certain amount of stand-alone stability. Many cycling shoes have gotten more and more slipper-like, favoring lightweight construction and minimal treads. That's fine for the road, or even shorter mountain bike races where there's little to no time off the bike, but in endurance races there are always hike-a-bikes, deep stream crossings, unrideable climbs or other obstacles that require walking. In those instances a shoe with an actual grippy sole is a necessity. Admittedly I'm a racer snob, but when I was riding sketchy, slick and muddy terrain because I was worried about falling while walking at the 6 Hours of Pat's Peak I realized I needed something a little better suited to my riding.
Other Italian brands tend to hog the limelight, but like their more widely known competitors Gaerne has a background in motocross boots and their lineage shows through with rugged but not overbuilt offroad shoes.
I opted for a size 44.5, which is what I normally wear for cycling shoes. The fit is superb, and the heel counter has an aggressive but not obtrusive feel that seems very secure. For my average to slightly narrow foot these feel perfect, but they're likely to not work well for wide feet.
The ratcheting top strap has an adjustable pad that can be moved around so that it can be properly aligned to alleviate pressure points.
The straps feature a mini ratchet mechanism that helps to keep the straps at the desired tension. It's a cool idea, and in my living room tests it really works.
The buckle is aluminum and has a much more solid feel than anything else I've used. I broke two sets of plastic buckles this past summer, and I'm optimistic that these should prove to be more reliable. You can see that the strap length is also adjustable on the outside of the pad.
The solid construction of these does make them slightly heavier than other offerings in this price range, and the standard G.Keira model shown here does not have a carbon sole. That said, I'm done with flimsy, poorly constructed mountain bike shoes that are slippery when walking on dry pavement. I think it's worth the trade off. All of this handmade Italian craftsmanship does add to the pricetag, but if these last as well as I expect them to they'll be around for several seasons.
I'll offer a more detailed review once I've used these more, and I'll post more details in the coming months. I'll also post my new shoe setup process for break in, cleat setup, etc.
For more information visit www.gaerneshoes.com.