Fresh out of the oven, the latest hotness from Louis Garneau.
The latest T-Flex 300 mountain bike shoe from Louis Garneau is the shoe Xzibit would build if his TV show were called “Pimp My MTB Shoe.” It’s the shoe with features you never thought to ask for while delivering on the features you can’t live without. In short, it’s completely a macked-out MTB shoe.
If you’ve owned more than a few pairs of mountain bike shoes over the years, you know the most crucial part of the shoe is the ratchet strap. I won’t buy an XC-style shoe without one because without it, the shoe feels loose and disconnected on the bike. The ratcheting buckle on the T-Flex 300 is simple to operate in both directions: pull up on the black tab to tighten or the red tab to loosen. I was able to get a nice, tight fit out of the straps without any sign of the ratchets pulling out.
Most ratchets work fine out of the box but eventually the plastic teeth will get worn either through use or damage (like when a vine grabs your strap and yanks as you speed by). Fortunately the T-Flex 300 has been updated with improved ratchet reinforcement and Louis Garneau even includes two extra ratchet straps in the box. Swapping the straps out is a cinch – just push.
Like most high end cycling shoes these days, the Louis Garneau T-Flex shoes are heat moldable, allowing you to get a custom fit now matter how weird your foot shape is. The included instructions walk you through the process, though they recommend setting your oven to 150-degrees and mine won’t go below 170. Not to worry – my shoes came out just fine with no incidental melting. Just remember to remove the ratchet straps first and you’ll be okay.
The forefoot tread on the T-Flex 300 is what I’d call semi-aggressive with nice deep tread and included (but optional) crampons. The rear tread doesn’t have a ton of surface area which kept me on my toes for the most part. Still, the rear tread spacing allows the shoe to really dig in deep for the most extreme hike-a-bike situations.
Ok, so replaceable ratchets, heat molding, and aggressive tread are all pretty standard features on most high-end MTB shoes. Now this is the part of the show where Xzibit takes over…
Louis Garneau added a removeable carbon plate they call the Air Power Blade to the T-Flex 300’s outsole that serves two purposes. Attached, it stiffens the sole and prevents air infiltration, keeping your feet warm on cold rides. Removed, the shoe is ventilated from underneath, keeping your feet cooler and drier in the summer. Inside the shoe you can see a mesh screen covering the vent holes on the bottom of the shoe and aside from keeping your feet well ventilated, this also serves to drain your shoe quickly after a deep stream crossing.
Of course that works both ways. In my tests I was shocked at how quickly my feet got wet on stream crossings even with the Air Power Blade in place. Other shoes I’ve tested do a better job at keeping feet dry in shallow waters. Once the T-Flex 300 soles get wet, your feet are sure to get wet too.
Louise Garneau includes two sets of Ergo Air insoles with the T-Flex 300s: Hot Stuff and Cool Stuff. I used the CoolMax-covered Cool Stuff inserts on my first ride before realizing I needed to switch to the Hot Stuff. What a difference! The Cool Stuff insert is light and breezy, even with the Air Power Blade attached. The hot stuff kept the bottoms of my feet much warmer and limited the airflow from the sole.
Speaking of air flow, the T-Flex 300s have great ventilation on top too. The mesh upper is lightweight and comfortable, reinforced by the varnished microfiber leather for added strength and protection. For cold weather riding I invested in a set of shoe covers to cut down on the topside draft but in the summer these shoes should be pure bliss.
One of my favorite T-Flex 300 features is actually the heel padding on the inside of the shoe. The padding is covered with a fine, silvery mesh-like material that’s both soft and grippy, almost like fine sandpaper. That extra bit of grip prevents heel slip while padding the heel from uncomfortable rubbing. And thanks to the heat-moldable material on the outside of the shoe, the heel conforms nicely to the shape of my foot. I also love the loops inside the shoe’s tongue, perfect for hanging the shoes to dry after a wet ride.
I’ve been wearing these shoes on the trail since the beginning of the year and I have to say they’re pretty awesome. I only have two complaints: One, while white highlights on MTB gear is trendy right now, I don’t think shoes are a good place for it. The white highlights even extend to the tread which turned brown on the first day out and has stayed brown ever since. If LG wanted me to wear black shoes with brown highlights they should’ve just made them brown to begin with. 🙂
Two sets of insoles, 2 replacement straps, crampons & tool, plus the bag – all included.
Second, while heat-moldable, the T-Flex 300s felt a bit narrow out of the box. Granted, I have EE-width feet but other heat-moldable shoes I’ve tested felt slightly roomier in the forefoot to start. The good news is the shoes seemed to stretch pretty quickly and I’ve found if I leave a little slack in the lower velcro strap they’re not uncomfortable.
The T-Flex 300 is a fully featured mountain bike shoe designed for year-round comfort and performance. With the included replacement straps and insoles, these shoes should last even the most aggressive XC rider season after season.
The Louis Garneau T-Flex 300 is priced at $199 MSRP. Thanks to Louis Garneau for providing these shoes for review.