Giro Latch Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Grippy, comfortable, lightweight
Cons: More expensive than some, slim fitting
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|Pros||Grippy, comfortable, lightweight||Excellent pedal grip, comfortable, true all-mountain performance||Tall ankle cuff with extra medial ankle padding, fantastic grip, good power transfer||Grippy soles, casual looks, reasonable price, versatility, lightweight||Impressive grip, protective, reasonable price|
|Cons||More expensive than some, slim fitting||On the expensive side of the spectrum, Stealth rubber wears more quickly||Heavier weight, polarizing looks, not the most breathable||Somewhat loose fit in the forefoot||Heavier weight, limited breathability|
|Bottom Line||A light and comfortable shoe with excellent grip that can pedal for long days on the roughest trails||The benchmark for flat pedal shoes, a true all-arounder that looks as good as it performs||A shoe that blends tremendous grip with a bit of extended ankle coverage and protection||A versatile new flat pedal shoe with great grip and a casual style||A reasonably priced, versatile flat pedal shoe that offers strong performance and even stronger value|
|Rating Categories||Giro Latch||Five Ten Freerider Pro||Five Ten Freerider...||Specialized 2FO Roo...||Ride Concepts Livewire|
|Fit and Comfort (25%)|
|Rigidity and Power Transfer (20%)|
|Specs||Giro Latch||Five Ten Freerider Pro||Five Ten Freerider...||Specialized 2FO Roo...||Ride Concepts Livewire|
|Rubber Type||Tack Rubber||Stealth S1||Stealth S1||SlipNot ST||Kinetics DST6.0 High Grip|
|Tread Pattern||Gamma tread design||Full Dot||Full Dot||Full Hexagon Dot||Full Hexagon Dot|
|Weight per Shoe (ounces)||12.5 (size 10)||14.11 (size 11)||16.57 (size 11)||12.96 (size 43.5)||16.15 (size 11)|
|Weight per Shoe (grams)||358 (size 10)||399 (size 11)||470 (size 11)||367 (size 43.5)||458 (size 11)|
|Upper Materials||Microfiber with Rockprint reinforced toe||Synthetic Leather||Synthetic with Ortholite sockliner||Leather/textile||Synthetic/mesh|
|Midsole||Mute Foam 3D and HD polyethylene power plate||EVA||Compression molded EVA||Cushioned EVA|
|Insole||3D molded||AM/MT insole||Body Geometry|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Giro Sport Design offers an extensive range of cycling shoes for both new riders and seasoned professionals pedaling on the road or the trail. For years, the combination of their shoes' performance characteristics and trend-setting aesthetics has placed a number of their products at the top of buyer's guides and podiums alike. However, Giro's flat pedal shoe offerings have always seemed to fall short of the reputation set by their other products. Their previous flat pedal shoe models we tested lacked grip, weren't stiff enough, and had a poor fit. The entirely new Giro Latch, along with another new model called the Deed, represents an all-new approach and design that has more than resolved these issues and exceeded our expectations. This new model can go toe to toe with the best flat pedal mountain bike shoes on the market.
The Latch provides excellent grip with its soft rubber compound and unique tread design. Giro uses their own Tack Rubber formula for the sole, and combined with the Gamma Tread Design and the Mute Foam midsole, these felt as glued to the pedal pins as we could have hoped. This is a major step forward for Giro's flat pedal shoes and one of the first we've tried in a long time that rivals the grip of Five Ten's legendary Stealth rubber.
Giro's Tack Rubber compound is soft enough to feel like the pedal pins sink into the sole, but not so soft that lugs were torn during our testing (as seen with other shoes). In chattery sections of trail, where some shoes start to wander, the Latch didn't budge. In corners and on jumps where the body sometimes moves off the center axis of the bike, these shoes held their position. The strength of the grip has much to do with the tacky rubber, but part of it can also be attributed to a layer of damping in the midsole using what Giro calls Mute Foam. The Mute Foam effectively absorbs some of the vibrations that would otherwise bounce your feet off the pedals. Previous flat pedal shoe models from Giro were underwhelming in their ability to stay connected to the pedal, but the Latch has flipped the script and its grip was an immediate eyebrow-raiser on the trail.
Many of the best flat pedal shoes we've tested seem to share similar tread design DNA, using uniformly sized circles or polygons placed in offset lines like a polka dot pattern. With Five Ten at the forefront of flat pedal shoe design for well over a decade employing a raised dot tread, it's no surprise that it might serve as inspiration for other companies. The Latch's Gamma Tread Design bucks this trend by using a raised pattern of fairly low-profile pentagonal lugs forming rings of hexagons that surround three smaller pentagon lugs. Even at a glance, this layout looks unique, and on-trail the grip had a distinct connection with the pedals. However, the relief of the tread isn't so deep and the spacing so tight that the tread itself hinders repositioning.
Fit and Comfort
Giro's years of experience making cycling shoes show in the well-executed fit and comfort of the Latch. The malleable microfiber upper and subtle padding of the Giro Latch makes for a comfortable and well-fitting shoe right out of the box. We found it to fit true to size in length with a medium to lower volume from the heel through the midsole, similar to the fit of the ever-popular Freerider Pro. The outside radius of the toe and low profile top create a toe box that is slimmer fitting but comfortable for an average size foot. Those with higher-volume feet may find the fit to be a bit tight, but we feel it should work for the majority of riders.
The Mute Foam in the midsole not only helps in damping impacts to enhance grip, but it also contributes to a comfortable ride characteristic as the shoes absorb some vibrations and impacts. It feels like less of the trail chatter is transferred to the feet, helping to reduce foot fatigue over long and rough descents. While we don't currently measure sole height, or stack, this shoe's sole is fairly thin, giving a feeling of being closer and more connected to the pedal. This is in contrast to other shoes in our test with more stack that felt higher off the pedals, more like a hiking boot.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
The Latch felt plenty stiff when weighting onto the pedals descending and while turning the pedals over with some effort on the climbs. The sole is supportive enough to stand up to rough descents while still translating the feel of the pedals under foot. On the climbs, the sole feels adequately stiff that power transfer feels efficient enough to not warrant complaint.
At one point while testing the Latch, its power transfer was inspiring enough to even put flat pedals on a gravel bike for a three-hour pedal. Despite the sole's rigidity and pedaling efficiency, when hiking back up the hill to session a jump, or when hanging at the brewery after a ride, it allows for a relatively normal stride.
The Latch does a decent job of ventilating the feet. The microfiber upper is generously perforated on the toe and sides. Striking a balance between support, ventilation, and foot protection can be a challenge, but Giro did their best to make this shoe breathe reasonably well.
While thicker-feeling than the uppers of some other shoes, we didn't have issues with overheating or sweaty feet while testing the Latch. The moisture-wicking lining and perforations on the microfiber uppers do a commendable job of keeping the feet comfortable. The majority of our testing was done in coastal California, however, with temperatures ranging from about 45 to mid-70 degrees Fahrenheit, so we can't comment on its breathability in more extreme riding temperatures. That said, it seems roughly on par with other shoes of similar design.
The Latch seems to be a very durable shoe based on the several weeks of ride testing we put it through. The upper showed few signs of abrasion, and the stitched areas were unflawed. We experienced no separation between the sole and uppers, and Giro's Rockprint reinforcement on the toe of the shoe showed little wear. The soles remain in good shape without excessive scarring from the pedal pins.
The Latch does have significantly less external reinforcement and protection than some of the beefier models we tested, which contributes to the lightness of the shoe, but whether less external reinforcement will result in more wear is unclear. However, in long-term testing of other Giro shoes constructed out of similar microfiber material, like the Empire VR90, we found the uppers to clean easily, be extremely resistant to abrasion, and hold up for thousands of miles of riding. As a flat pedal shoe, we expect the soles will eventually succumb to the forces at play between them and the pedal pins, but our experience doesn't lead us to believe it will be premature.
The Latch is an impressively lightweight flat pedal shoe. While the weight of a flat pedal shoe might not be the most important metric to many riders, our size 44 EU/10 US Latch weighed in at a lean 356 grams (12.5 ounces) per shoe, making it one of the lightest shoes in its category. This weight is encouraging for all-day flat pedal trail-riding missions, or for throwing on to burn some hot laps at the pump track. The lighter weight of this shoe doesn't take away from its ability to rip ruts or cruise shuttle laps, though more supportive and protective shoes are often heavier.
The Latch lands at the higher end of the price scale for flat pedal shoes. However, in our opinion, its construction, grip, and feel on the pedals is worth the spend for serious trail riders looking for optimal tools. Few shoes in our tests come close to ride characteristics offered by the Latch with the exception of Five Ten, which sit at a similar price point.
This shoe combines a sole that is grippier than most with an upper that is both lightweight and durable. The rigidity and comfort of this shoe also contribute to making it a top choice for riders invested in pedaling to the top to earn their descents. If you've been searching for another brand that can rival the grip of Five Ten, we feel the Latch is worth a try.
— Ian Stowe
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