I have to admit: I’m a sucker when it comes to riding in the cold–as I get older I tolerate the cold less. Getting a fat bike to force myself to get out in the winter was a feat.
The Alpineduro shoes use a sole design very similar to that of the Terraduro; these shoes are what I’d consider a hybrid between a mid cut and high cut shoe. They offer full ankle support yet converge to a lowered heel.
These shoes feature a full lace up front with two lace options: black or orange. If you look carefully midway up the laces you’ll see a neat little lace holder, which tucks your laces safely away.
The uppers are made tough with a breathable microfiber and waterproof liner. Inside you are welcomed with soft-feeling PrimaLoft Insulation. The shoe is rubber reinforced around the the toe box and heal. Also, the very back of the shoe and the lace hoops are reflective, for added safety.
As mentioned before, the sole is much like the Terraduro shoe, using the same grippy Vibram rubber and tread pattern. To keep you pedaling efficiently, the shoe incorporates a molded SPD-compatible nylon shank, along with an added flex area in the forefoot for easier walking.
For a final measure of freshness, an anti-stink treatment is added to keep happy feet from morphing into stinky feet.
As far as fit goes, the Alpineduro feel great. I normally wear a size 46 shoe and these 46s are bang-on. Like some people, I have wide feet, and even though Giro does sell E and EE versions, the normal sizing is just about right for me. I could even fit a thick pair of socks in these shoes too.
Like I said, I’m a sucker when it comes to cold weather. The very first thing that gets cold are my feet. In Ontario I can now ride comfortably to -7°C / 19°F with these shoes. I start getting cold feet at any temperatures below that. Mind you I can still ride, but the fun factor drops.
The Neo Blaze glove will work well for road or mountain bikers. With full fingers the Neo Blaze is what Giro refers to as their most dexterous cold weather glove. Made from Pertex material (a premium version of neoprene with good insulating properties), this fabric looks very much like the same stuff a diver may wear.
The first thing you will notice when putting on a set of Neo Blaze gloves is the close, almost tight feel to them. The ultra grippy silicon palm and seamless-feeling construction makes these gloves warm, water resistant, and easier on the hands after a harsh blow from a rock. Giro calls this type of construction “blind stitching.” The top side logo on the glove is reflective for an added measure of safety in the dark around oncoming traffic.
Giro does make gloves for even colder weather, but this is not what the Neo Blaze is all about. Having said that, I’ve used the Neo Blaze on the trails down to 5°C / 41°F with no issues. Yes, I had a slight chill at first, but I find I quickly got comfy enough. I have gone even colder, but then my finger tips got a bit too cool for my liking.
I do enjoy the tight minimalist feel to the glove, mimicking another favorite of mine, the Giro Rivet II. The one piece stretchy palm with its uninterrupted surface provides a great grip on the bar, with no stitch folds to dig into your hand. With the gloves on I have no issues shifting, fumbling around in pockets for stuff, and I can even access the controls on my smartphone with no issues at all.
Most of my riding during the test period was around the Hilton Falls, Ontario area; it is sheltered with lots of trees, and the terrain is a nice mixed bag of rocks and rooted areas. At the time of this review we didn’t have too much snow, but the ground was plenty sloppy from heat and cold cycles, making for chocolate ice cream mud patches and frozen terrain. Surprisingly, the shoes held up well without any water intrusion–even with SPD cleats installed! I didn’t dunk my feet in deep water, though–just the normal few inches of snow when I had to hike-a-bike. On the topic of hike-a-bike, I really appreciated the firm boot feel. I have a bad ankle, and the added support really makes it more pleasant when walking over some harder (beyond my ability) but not impassible rock formations.
The sole of the shoe is holding up well, showing only some wear on the tread in the form of small cuts and scuffing on some blocks. If anything the SPD-compatible cleats I am using are taking the brunt of the wear. The upper part of the shoe is holding up even better: not a stitch or bit of the shoe is showing signs of coming apart.
I am giving the Alpineduro and Neo Blaze both a thumbs up. Both are comfortable and work as intended. My feet stayed dry, my hands were warm enough, and both did very well in cold, slippery conditions. If I could change anything, I would add a Neoprene sock to the upper cuff of the Alpineduro shoe for added protection in deeper snow. As far as the Neo Blaze, I wouldn’t touch them. If you need gloves for colder weather, that’s what the Giro Proof gloves are for.
Alpineduro MSRP: $199
Neo Blaze MSRP: $40
Thanks to Giro for providing the Alpineduro shoes and Neo Blaze gloves for review.