Crankbrothers have launched a new line of mountain bike shoes today. The line consists of two clip in models and one flat model. The Mallet and Mallet E shoes are the clip-in range while the Stamp is made for flat pedals. All of the shoes are designed for the trail, enduro, and DH crowd. The Stamp and Mallet are a skate style shoe while the Mallet E is more of an adventure shoe. While the outsoles are optimized for Crankbrothers pedals, they're designed and tested to work with any standard mountain bike pedals.
Why a shoe? Crankbrothers decided to jump into the footwear category because their team wanted to make an attempt at solving some of the more common inconsistencies in the cleat box of clipless shoes which often can cause frustrations for riders. Design & Construction
The design process for Crankbrothers' new shoe line took about three years and riders such as Fabio Wibmer and Luca Shaw have been using the shoes for some time now and giving the engineering team feedback in the process. Testing involved going through several iterations of the shoe, and experimenting with various proprietary rubber compounds, especially on the flat shoe to get what they feel is the best compound.
Crankbrothers worked to pay extra special attention to not only the rubber compound but also the fit, along with the toe ramp and outsole flexibility. The Stamp flat shoe has a high friction rubber compound or MC2, to stick to the pedal body with low rebound properties which are intended to damp vibrations. The lug depth is designed around pin dimensions to absorb the pin body. All shoes have tread on the toe and heel to aid in traction when off the bike.
The Mallet and Mallet E shoes have what Crankbrothers calls a "mid-friction" compound or MC1, that allows for an easier pedal entry and exit. The MC1 compound is also stiffer and gives more power transfer to the pedals.
The clipless shoes are designed to work with any MTB clip-in system, Crankbrothers or SPD. The Mallet and Mallet E shoes come with a "Match" shim and Crankbrothers cleat pre-installed, out of the box, in a neutral position so it's ready to ride. Riders who use SPD cleats can remove the shim and replace the cleat to get the proper cleat height. As the outsole's rubber around the cleat box (Crankbrothers calls this the Match Box) occurs, riders can remove the shim and ride with the cleat only to maintain the correct cleat height. The Mallet shoe also has a "Race Zone" on the cleat box which allows the cleat to be positioned further toward the heel for more stability when descending.
The shoe's upper is synthetic and designed to be breathable and comfortable while offering some protection. The shoes are made to dry quickly in wet conditions and a reinforced TPU in the toe box provides protection against rock strikes and impacts. There are also silicone heel dots in the shoe to give more heel grip and a padded tongue.
Each shoe model is available in three different closure systems. There is a BOA and strap, speed lace and strap, and lace option. The top of the line shoes, including the Stamp flat shoe, utilize a BOA system with a micro-adjustment dial. The speed lace version offers a fast adjustment with the laces being able to tuck into the tongue, and the classic lace system utilizes round laces and also can tuck the laces into a pocket.
The shoes are priced from $129.99/€129.99 to $199.99/€199.99 and the clip-in versions include Crankbrothers cleats pre-installed. The shoes are available in US sizes 5-14 with half sizes and are now available.First Impressions
Mike Kazimer and I have both had the Crankbrothers shoes for a few days at this point. He's been riding the Mallet BOA clip-In version and I've been on the Stamp BOA flat pedal version. A few days is not long enough to give a review but, it's enough time to get a good impression of how the shoes perform.
One thing that stands out with the shoes we've been riding is the comfort. The shoes are incredibly comfortable and feel supportive as they should. The BOA system provides a really even tension as it tightens and it's easy to use. I've experienced no issues in my foot or heel slipping.
The shoes feel reasonably stiff, more than a lot of skate style shoes, and it's apparent that the flat shoes are designed with mountain biking in mind and remind me much more of a shoe intended to be ridden in than many other skate-style flat pedal shoes.
As far as traction goes, the Stamp's outsole is extremely grippy. With the standard being Five Ten's Stealth rubber, the Crankbrothers shoes are on par. The shoes lock into the pedal pins well and I found that picking up my foot to change its position was easier than it is with some skate shoes. After a couple of rides, there are some light wear spots from pedal pins in the rubber, but it's nothing too far out of the normal at this point.
For more information, visit www.crankbrothers.com