Let’s say you’re a mountain biker who enjoys many different types of mountain biking. You might ride downhill, but want to put the power down on the flats. You ride aggressively on your Enduro bike, but you can’t commit to clipless. Or, you might be frequently forced to get off your trail bike and hike-a-bike up a steep mountain side.
If any of the above descriptions sound awfully familiar, you might need a pair of shoes that provides something similar to cross-country support but that can grip the pedals when not clipped in, all in a comfortable package. If this is you, you should check out the new Giro Chamber shoe.
For about a year or more, I have found myself enjoying a skate-style shoe much than a full-blown mountain bike shoe. The Chamber looks like a skate shoe, but it has so much more hidden beneath the surface.
The chamber uses a dual-density Vibram out sole and a molded SPD shank. Made with input from Aaron Gwin, the Chamber had high expectations and design goals from the start. Material choice and comfort were key factors when it came to targeted goals.
As you can imagine, a DH shoe needs to be tough, but it also has to absorb shock and feel comfortable. With the use of Poron XRD material in the heel and parts of the inner sole, the chamber absorbs up to 90% of impact energy. It does this by making the molecules lock together during an impact, deflecting the impact forces. Not only is Poron XRD good for impacts, but its open cell construction allows for added breathability and anti-fungal properties.
The Chamber is sold as a full-sole shoe, meaning you have to cut away the opening for the SPD cleats. A sharp blade makes quick work of those tabs.
Out on the Trail
I always like to test shoes such as the Chamber as a flat shoe first before cutting away the tabs for cleats. And honestly, I didn’t like the level of grip that the Chamber provided without the cleat.
Sure, the sole is very durable, but I found that there wasn’t enough give in the rubber to really grip my flat DH pedals. However, they did grip my Twenty6 Predator pedals decently well (there is a reason these pedals are called Predators).
When I just had to get off the bike and hike, the Chamber felt very comfortable. With a fairly wide toe box, these shoes are perfect for regular hike-a-bikes.
The Chamber shoe really shines when used with cleats. Not only are the Chambers one of the easiest skate-style clipless shoes for engaging and disengaging the pedal, they also feel right at home.
In the case of the Chamber, the mounting position of the cleat is a bit closer to the center of the shoe compared to standard clipless mountain bike shoes. As a gravity-oriented rider, I find you have better stability with the cleat towards the center, compared to standing on your forefoot.
Having tested these shoes extensively in both downhill and enduro applications, I can vouch for the Chambers as one tough pair of shoes. Did the Chambers make me ride like Aaron Gwin? Hell no… no one rides like Gwin. But I tried.
Many thanks to the folks at Giro for sending down the Chamber shoes for review.