First impressions, they look really cool. But for an Italian brand I would expect nothing less. They have a decent tread on the bottom of the shoe with a two bolt cleat system compatible with MTB pedals. They have a dual Velcro strap on the top of the shoe and despite this being a triathlon style closure system, the top of your foot is still well protected. Another handy additional is a large loop on the back of the shoe that you can hold to pull the shoe on whilst on the move. Size wise they come up quite narrow. I didn’t size up as I intend to use them without socks in racing. I have very high arches so I swapped out the original insole for a specialized insole and I have a pretty perfect fit.
They are comfortable to ride in although if you prefer the stiffer feel that a carbon sole gives you these may not be the shoe for you. Straight from Gaerne, the sole is made from their new “MTB 2DENSITY SOLE”. A sole designed specifically for Mountain Bike use. The structure of the sole combines both nylon and fiberglass materials, making it durable, lightweight and thin. Personally, I can’t say I notice any loss in power transfer to the pedals and I prefer a slightly softer sole for racing off road multisport events as I find them a lot easier to run in if there are sections on the course where I need to get off my bike. I haven’t had to use them in super muddy conditions yet but the grip on the bottom of the shoe feels sufficient without having to add extra studs at the toes.
My key motivator for finding a pair of MTB shoes specifically for off road triathlon is so that I can leave my shoes on the pedals in transition, putting my shoes on and taking them off whilst on the bike. Although the strap closure allows you plenty of room to open the top of the shoe, with wet feet, they are still pretty difficult to put on whilst on the move, making sure that the neoprene protection sits flat on the top of your foot. Not all race courses will allow you to do this if you are straight out into a section of single track though and if you are putting them on in transition you will save a couple of seconds over doing up a boa style system. Taking the shoes off whilst on the bike is really easy and where you will save the most time over a traditional MTB shoe.
After five months of use the shoes are still going strong but they are starting to wear a lot around the toes. These are a pair of shoes that you need to wear in and then save for racing only in order to pro long their life. Keep them clean and look after them and I am sure they will see you through a couple of racing seasons.
If you can find them in stock, they retail at around €120. Perhaps the pricier end of MTB shoes of a similar quality with a regular velcro or boa closure system. Overall though I do really like the feel and fit of the shoe and for the effort of trying to adapt either a mountain bike shoe or a road triathlon shoe to suit my needs I think they are worth it.
About the tester:
Disciplines: Cross Triathlon, MTB