Gaerne is one of a number of highly regarded Italian shoe manufacturers, and these G.Kobra shoes are their newest model. They’re offered with a choice of sole material: carbon fibre if you value weight and stiffness, or the less expensive (but still pricey) MTB 3 Density sole on the $339.99 USD version that's review below.
The ventilated one-piece synthetic upper has a couple of small mesh panels and a perforated cushioned tongue, and retention is via a pair of Boa L5 micro-adjustable dials with stainless steel cables. Boa dials are fairly commonplace on cross-country shoes and these are Gaerne’s least expensive Boa-equipped model. Inside the shoe is the company's High Comfort Insole, and turning the shoe over reveals an aggressive tread pattern with the use of something called THSR-ICEGRIP, a material that Gaerne says “helps provide greater grip and abrasion resistance in dry, wet and icy soil conditions.” There’s an SPD-compatible, two-bolt cleat drilling and the provision for a pair of studs to be fitted to the front of the shoe, with studs are provided in the box. Sizes: 39 - 46. Weight: 782g (pair, size 45). MSRP: $339.99 USD. www.gaerne.com @gaernecycling Performance
The MTB 3 Density sole combines nylon and fibreglass to provide a light and thin sole while also reducing the cost of the shoe compared to the $399 USD carbon fibre version, with only a small 42-gram weight penalty to show for it. They're noticeably less stiff than carbon fibre bottoms but, unless you’re racing, this is a good thing. Because while ultimately power transfer isn’t quite as good, the slight flex actually makes them more comfortable for trail rides when you’re not busting out every possible watt on the climbs. When you are forced to walk, even if it's just through the cafe, the small degree of flex makes you feel less like a ballerina, and the tread dishes out limpet-like grip on slippery rocks or tiled floors. The grip can be boosted even more in muddy conditions with the addition of a pair of supplied studs - I’ll save those for the cyclocross races.
I found the size and fit to be excellent, and they're comparable to similar shoes from Specialized and Giro in terms of width around the front of the foot. The insole offers good support, with adequate cushioning, and there’s not a hint of heel lift. The supple upper and lack of stitching contribute to the comfort and I really like the Boa dials because they reduce the potential for pressure hotspots and allow precise adjustment, even on the move. And they’re quick to use while being easier than untying laces when your fingers are frozen. It's just as well the fit is so good because at this price you might reasonably expect a custom moulding option.
The shoes are solidly built, well made, and have coped well with plenty of muddy and rocky riding and some commuting. There’s a small scuff guard on the front that helps to stop the toe section from shredding apart when you dab a foot in a slippery corner, and the upper cleans up well and dries out quickly after getting wet. The ventilation might be nice in the summer, but in the winter testing conditions, they only served to let in all the cold air. There's also enough cleat adjustment available to position them right where you need them. Pinkbike's Take:
|For anyone looking for a stiff and lightweight shoe for cross-country or fast trail riding, with durability, fit and comfort high on the list, these are a good choice. Even so, the high price tag might put many people off, especially given that there are many shoes that offer similar performance available for much less. - David Arthur|
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