The Crankbrothers Mallet pedal has long been a popular choice for gravity focused riding. In fact, they're almost ubiquitous among World Cup downhillers. They don't work nicely with every shoe out there, so it was interesting to see Crankbrothers come out with their own shoe with the same name and the same riders in mind as their popular pedals. The shoes will work with clipless pedals from other brands, but they're made to fit the eccentricities of the Mallet pedal in particular. They even come with Crankbrothers' own cleats installed and ready to go.
There are three options for the closure system: the Mallet Boa, the Mallet Speed Lace and the Mallet Lace, in descending order of price. There's also the Mallet E shoe, which is aimed more at trail/enduro riding and is available with the same three closure options at the same prices.
Mallet Boa Details
• Boa dial plus Velcro strap
• Includes CB cleats but SPD compatible
• More rearward cleat adjustment range than Mallet E
• Colors: black
• Sizes: 5-14 (US) / 37-48 (EU) / 4-13 (UK)
• Weight: 1,010 grams (pair, size 12US/46EU/11UK)
• MSRP: $199.99 / €199.99 / £179.99
Extra UK (Crankbrothers' UK distributor) sent me both the Mallet Boa and the Mallet E Boa to test. Both shoes weigh the same and feel similar to wear, except the regular Mallet has the option to move the cleat 5mm further back, which I like. Performance
With the cleats set as they come out the box, the friction against the pedal was too tight to clip in to Mallet DH or Mallet E pedals as easily as I'd like. One option is to wind the pedal pins in, but I added a cleat spacer to raise the shoes away from the pedal. This is not only easier than screwing all the pins in (especially if you have multiple pedals), but means there's loads of grip when you have to ride out a section out unclipped. They're really easy to clip in and out with a spacer added, though. As the shoes wear, I'll probably remove the spacer to maintain contact.
With most shoes, I have to place the cleat as far inboard as possible so the shoe sits further away from the crank; otherwise it can be tricky to unclip from Crankbrothers pedals as the shoe hits the crank first. The Mallets have no such issue even in the neutral mid-line position. In fact, I ended up moving the cleats slightly outboard so the shoes sat closer to the cranks to improve pedaling feel by effectively reducing the Q-factor.
Although the Mallet has space to run the cleat 5mm more rearward than the Mallet E, into the bright red "Race Zone", even when slammed fully back they didn't feel too
far back to me. It's far enough back, but no more rearward than some gravity-focused shoes. Compared to the Mallet E, I prefer the more rearward position the Mallet provides; it gives me a feeling of a more solid connection to the bike when descending and makes it easier to drop my heals on technical terrain. I don't feel any disadvantage when pedaling with the cleats further back, and there's some science to support this feeling.
My feet are pretty average-shaped and most size 46 shoes fit me just fine. I found the Mallets sizing a little on the generous side, especially in length. They cinch down nicely with the Boa dial and Vaelcro strap, but I had to do both up pretty tight to make my feet feel secure. Once I'd done that, there's no heel-lift when walking or pulling on the pedals.
Stiffness is mid-pack, which means they're comfy to walk in but there's not enough flex to feel any bending around the pedals or any loss of power. The tongue and sides are quite padded, so they can feel a bit vague and bulky unless cinched up really tight, but they remain comfy even when they are. There's a good amount of protection from rock strikes around the front, but the trade-off is they are quite sweaty on long, warm rides. And in wet weather, they take longer to dry out than most shoes. Toe to Toe: Crankbrothers Mallet Boa vs Specialized 2FO Clip 2.0
Specialized's 2FO Clip 2.0 is currently being phased out by the 2FO DH, but they're still my go-to for trail/enduro/DH riding. How does the Mallet measure up?
My 2FOs are a whole 8 grams heavier than the Mallets, which isn't really a difference at all.
While the Mallets run a touch on the big side, the Specialized shoes are more typical for the size and a better fit for me. Despite this, the Specialized's laces make it harder and more time-consuming to get them nice and snug without being tight in certain places. Laces also make the 2FO cheaper than the Boa mallets, of course.
I have the cleat almost fully inboard on the 2FOs to stop them from hitting the cranks when unclipping; this puts the shoes in a similar position to the Mallets with the cleats set slightly outboard. I'm using a cleat spacer and have the cleat fully rearward with both, and it's slightly further back on the 2FO. Not that I want the cleat any further back on the Mallet.
The Specialized shoes are a little stiffer and the insole has more arch support, which I find results in less foot pain on long descents. Both shoes offer similar protection and padding, but I'd say the 2FO is a bit more ventilated. Overall, both shoes are remarkably similar but my preference sits slightly towards the 2FO.
Comfy and secure on and off the bike once fastened tight+
Very easy to clip in if used with a cleat spacer or short pins+
Plenty of cleat position options
Sizing on the longer side-
Slightly bulky and sweaty in hot weather