The last pair of shoes I got in for review was intended primarily for cross country racers, and not for all-day epics and adventurous rides that might require hike-a-bike. When the opportunity came to review a pair of shoes from Giro, I examined their website carefully to see exactly which shoe might fit my wants and needs the best.
Eventually, I settled on the Gauge.
The Giro Gauge features an Easton EC70 unidirectional carbon sole for maximum power transfer. There are plenty of massive lugs on the outsole for hiking, and the shoes do accept toe spikes for cross racing or winter riding.
The uppers are made of “premium microfiber with welded scuffguards,” according to Giro. The closure system features a micro ratchet buckle closure with a replaceable strap portion, an offset strap “D-ring” at midfoot for comfort, and another secure strap near the toes.
The SuperNatural Fit Kit insole comes with several different insole options and arch support adjustments so you can achieve the perfect fit.
Finally, this entire package weighs in at a feathery-light 345 grams in a size 42.
Out on the Trail
I have pedaled several hundred miles of down-and-dirty mountain bike trails in these shoes, including dry conditions, wet conditions, rides that I was on the bike the entire time, and rides that included several long, arduous hike-a-bikes. To make a long story short, my homework paid off: the Gauge has proven to be the perfect shoe for the type of mountain biking I do!
But of course, I am a writer, and the story is never that short. 🙂
The sole of the Gauge has proven to be plenty stiff, providing excellent power transfer, but it still offers a reasonable amount of flex for the times when the going gets really steep and it’s time to hike. In those circumstances, the lugs on the outsole provide great traction even in greasy conditions. Also, the protective scuff guard under the arch serves a dual purpose and provides great traction while crossing wet logs over rushing mountain streams in the middle of winter!
What really impressed me and, frankly, continues to impress me is how comfortable these shoes are, even right out of the box. Many cross country shoes I’ve worn in the past have required a break-in period before the uppers will loosen up and the shoes will be comfortable enough for all-day epics. But the Gauges have been very comfortable since day one. They have broken in some as I’ve used them and have gotten even more comfortable, but the uppers still feel firm and secure.
That security is thanks in large part to the excellent micro ratchet buckle. The buckle is easy to use, even with gloved hands, and has been very dependable thus far. The replaceable strap portion is a nice feature: if it ever does get worn out before it’s time to retire the shoes, the strap can be replaced easily.
The offset D-ring velcro strap located mid-foot is new to me. While I imagine the intention is to increase comfort and, potentially, security, its success is hard to quantify in a trail test. One thing is certain: the unique D-ring design definitely doesn’t hurt anything.
Finally, all these features are packed into a 345-gram package. The Pearl Izumi Octane SL II‘s that I reviewed last year claimed to be the lightest shoes on the market at 335 grams (later bested by Pearl Izumi’s own X-Project shoes). While that is 10 grams lighter than the Gauge, I’d personally much rather sacrifice those 10 grams for a more comfortable shoe and the security of a ratchet buckle and save $75 in the process. (Of course, the Octane SL II is much stiffer and is intended for a different type of rider.)
After hundreds of miles of use and abuse, I still don’t have a single complaint to make about the Giro Gauges. I’m planning on racing the Cohutta 100 in them in April, and I will probably keep on wearing these shoes until they wear out.
Giro Gauge MSRP: $225
Many thanks to Giro for sending out these for review!