|We picked up our set of Elite BOA shoes during last year's Crankworx event in Whistler, and they've been on our feet since that weekend. That means that we've worn them through smoking hot summer weather, fall rain coming down so hard that we were close to being washed away on a few occasions, and even a handful of rides that saw temps dipping down well below freezing. We even wore them during our annual pilgrimage to Sedona, Arizona, a trip that brought to light an unexpected attribute of the Elites.|
First things first: the black and orange Elite BOAs look sporty enough to fit in on the start line of a pro level cross-country race, but don't let the racey appearance fool you because they are more comfortable than any ultra stiff and ultra light race shoe we've ever worn, at least in most ways. A lot of this comfort comes for their supple uppers that makes most other shoes feel like gum boots, and makes our feet feel like we're not even wearing shoes - it's that much of a difference. The BOA system plays a part as well, with it offering nice, even tension across the top of the foot, not to mention great adjustability that laces and Velcro can only dream of. Their soles are quite a bit more flexible than a true race shoe, and that makes them easy to walk in with minimal heel lift when you can't quite pedal to the top, and the ' Sticki rubber' lugs really are sticky - we easily strolled up rock slopes in Sedona that had us sliding around like we were on roller blades when wearing other shoes. This last point would make them our top pick if we lived in a location like Moab or Sedona where we had to scramble up or down rock sections every now and then. Just in case it isn't obvious enough, we really like the Elite BOAs. But, just as with any product that we've used as much as these shoes, we've found a few issues that are worth mentioning. The first is how their relatively flexible sole, while great for walking, isn't so great on long descents - we ended up with a bit of foot pain from the soles flexing too much while standing up during extended downhills. There are plenty of stiffer shoe options out there, and Scott has purposely designed the Elite BOAs to flex a touch more than a race shoe, so just keep that in mind if you are prone to hot spots or other foot pain. The other issue is of more concern, and it's one that only recently popped up: the shoes' BOA tensioning system has started to back off enough during rides to require stopping to re-tighten the system. This only takes a second, and they don't seem to back off again after re-tensioning them, but it's pretty annoying regardless.
So, the Elite BOAs aren't perfect but they do offer an absolutely killer fit for our average feet, and are great for doing a bit of portaging thanks to their relatively forgiving soles and tacky rubber lugs. We see their ideal user being someone who doesn't want to wear heavy shoes modelled after skate kicks (we are mountain biking, after all, not on fashion parade) and wants something sporty looking and walkable without having you look like you're wearing tap dance shoes.- Mike Levy
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