Featherweight Flats: Mavic XA Flex Shoes Incorporate Carbitex [Review]

Given their low weight and great grip the Mavic XA Flex shoes might be the perfect pair of flats for riders who want to race unclipped.

These fancy Mavic XA Flex flat pedal shoes weigh a scant 347g with a little mud caked in their Carbitex fabric. A twelve-ounce can of Rainier weighs 379g before cracking the seal. Both of these things will sometimes come along for the ride, though the shoes likely provide a more notable performance advantage.

We have reviewed a pair of Scott MTB RC SL clipless shoes with Carbitex, and the Mavic XA Pro, a clipless version of this same shoe, so we’ll keep this review short and focus on unique elements of the particular model.

The flexy carbon-fiber-infused upper of these kicks tightens around your foot with a quick tug, and there’s a pocket on the tongue to keep things tidy. The lace-thingy stays put in its little garage so there’s no need to worry about catching it in the drivetrain. On-the-fly ankle adjustments can be made with the usual velcro strap, and the sticky sole seems plenty tough to keep sticking throughout the life of the shoes.

Mavic XA Flex shoe fit and feel

The fit on these shoes is really good, apart from the length being a little shorter than my usual. Mavic sent an EU size 43.5 and my toes touch at the nose despite my usual size being a 43. There’s some fishy math going on here. Inside the tongue of the Mavic XA Flex shoes, the size chart says that a 43.5 equates to a 9.5 in US sizing, though some of my other size 43 shoes translate that to size 10. In short, you may want to try this model on before scanning the debit card.

The shoe’s heel cup feels nicely supported and protected from impacts, and the toe includes a medium-strength protective layer. Underfoot, there’s ample padding to absorb the shock of abrupt drop-to-flat landings or hardtail harshness. While I’d love to see elevated inner-ankle protection on all gravity mountain bike shoes, keeping my metatarsals safe was otherwise of little concern in the Mavic XA Flex.

Pros and cons of the Mavic XA Flex


  • Cozy fit
  • Quick cinching system with lace garage
  • Great walking and pedal traction
  • Lightweight


  • Sizing fits small
  • Limited colorway

Final Word

Let’s get low, for the real shine of these shoes. Mavic’s Contragrip sole holds fast to the pedals and the earth alike, wrapping deep into the pins without creating the full “melted” feel of some softer shoes. The pedal portion is soft and supple, with heaps of surface area to receive pedal pins. These shoes aren’t quite “5.10 sticky” but they also aren’t far from it. Toe and heel traction is some of the best in class, with widely spaced lugs to claw the ground while hiking in nearly any weather or soil conditions.

Given their low weight and great grip these XA Flex foot holsters might be the perfect pair of flats for riders who want to race unclipped. The Mavic XA Flex with Carbitex retail for $165.