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Crankbrothers Mallet Boa - Unisex Review

This comfortable shoe impressed our testers with its fit, trail absorption, and power transfer and is a great match for short trail rides and all-day epics alike
Crankbrothers Mallet Boa - Unisex
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $200 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Pros:  Comfortable fit, large cleat opening, good power transfer, excellent trail absorption
Cons:  Lacks breathability, expensive
Manufacturer:   Crankbrothers
By Tara Reddinger-Adams ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 27, 2021
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Walkability - 25% 9
  • Stability and Control - 20% 9
  • Protection - 15% 8
  • Weight - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Crankbrothers Mallet Boa is a unisex model that is at home on trail rides, all-day epics, and is sturdy enough for enduro and downhill riding. A stiff midsole and shank provide power into the pedals when you need it, yet still provide a comfortable pedaling platform for all-day wear. The Boa closure makes for quick adjustments and ensures a supportive and comfortable fit. The reinforced TPU toebox and highly padded tongue and ankle provide ample foot protection for any type of riding. The Mallet Boa performs well both on and off the bike and we feel it is the best shoe we tested.

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Price $200 List
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$130 List
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Pros Comfortable fit, large cleat opening, good power transfer, excellent trail absorptionLightweight, good power transfer, easy to walk inComfortable, excellent protection, excellent power transfer, easy to clip in and out of, great for hike-a-bikeComfortable, stiff, good power transfer, large cleat openingLightweight, very good power transfer, breathable
Cons Lacks breathability, expensiveNot the best lateral stabilityHeavy, not waterproofNot waterproof, velcro strap too longLacking side protection on the mid-foot
Bottom Line This comfortable shoe impressed our testers with its fit, trail absorption, and power transfer and is a great match for short trail rides and all-day epics alikeThis unassuming shoe combines on and off the bike performance with good power transfer and walking comfort at a relatively reasonable price tagA high-performing shoe that offers comfort paired with excellent stability, protection, and walkabilityThis shoe offers a shock-absorbing sole and breathable uppers that deliver exceptional comfort, even when on technical hike-a-bike sectionsA solid performing shoe packed with features typically reserved for shoes with a much higher price tag
Rating Categories Crankbrothers Malle... Specialized 2FO Roo... Ride Concepts Traverse Five Ten Hellcat -... Scott MTB Elite Boa...
Comfort (25%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Walkability (25%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Stability And Control (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Protection (15%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
6.0
9.0
3.0
4.0
7.0
Specs Crankbrothers Malle... Specialized 2FO Roo... Ride Concepts Traverse Five Ten Hellcat -... Scott MTB Elite Boa...
Measured Weight (g) 379g 322g 450g 437g 351g
Outsole Match MC1 SlipNot FG DST 8.0 MID GRIP Rubber Stealth C4 rubber Sticki rubber
Closure Boa, Velcro strap Laces Laces/Velcro Laces/Velcro Boa, Velcro strap
Upper Material Synthetic synthetic leather Synthetic & D30 Synthetic weather-resistant micro-perforated, EVA Microfiber, 3D nylon air mesh
Footbed not specified Body Geometry EVA Foam EVA Foam ErgoLogic
Sole EVA midsole Soft Lollipop Nylon Composite Plate D30 High Impact Insole Three-quarter dual-density TPU shank, EVA midsole Fiberglass-reinforced nylon
Size Tested US 7 EU 39.5 / US 8.5 EU 39.5 / US 8.5 EU 40 2/3 / US 8.5 EU 39

Our Analysis and Test Results

Crankbrothers recently entered the mountain bike shoe market with the release of their Mallet and Stamp shoes. Designed as an enduro and downhill shoe, our testers found the Mallet Boa at home on both fast flow trails and technical trail rides and kept reaching for them again and again because of their incredible fit and power transfer. Crankbrothers pairs Boa lacing with a velcro strap and silicone heel dots; this combination not only allowed us to dial in the fit perfectly to our foot but also ensures that our heel stays down when pulling on the pedals on technical climbs. The EVA midsole is stiff enough to not flex underfoot while pushing hard into the pedals, yet comfortably flexes for hike-a-bikes.

Some of the few drawbacks to this shoe are its breathability and price tag. The Mallet Boa has a reinforced toe box with perforations, a padded mesh tongue, and mesh windows for breathability, but falls short when compared to some of the other shoes in our lineup that breathe considerably better. It is also one of the more expensive shoes in our test selection and comes with a steep price tag. If you're a trail, enduro, or downhill rider who values and prioritizes fit and performance, we think you'll probably appreciate the Crankbrothers Mallet Boa.

Performance Comparison


These shoes won us over with their stiff, supportive, pedaling...
These shoes won us over with their stiff, supportive, pedaling platform and comfortable fit.
Photo: Byron Adams

Stability and Control


Crankbrothers uses an EVA midsole paired with their Match MC1 rubber compound on the Mallet Boa shoes. This combination provides stiff pedaling support underfoot and dampens vibrations from the rowdiest of trails. The shank is stiff, but no so much as to lose the feel of the pedal underfoot while still providing excellent power transfer.


Crankbrothers refers to the cleat opening as the Match Box. This opening is ramped both fore and aft, making it easy to slide your foot forward to clip into your pedals. Towards the midfoot, Crankbrothers has the "Race Zone" marked in red, this area designates the cleat setback area that is optimized for descending. The cleat pocket itself has 1 5/16-inches of fore/aft adjustment which should be adequate for most riders to find their optimal cleat position for maximum stability on the pedals.

There is 1 5/16" of fore/aft cleat adjustment and ramped zones...
There is 1 5/16" of fore/aft cleat adjustment and ramped zones leading into the cleat box, which is called the Match Box. The red Race Zone designates optimal cleat placement for descending or downhill riding.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

The Mallet Boa comes with Crankbrothers cleats installed, a bonus if you already use their pedals. Our testers use Shimano XT and XTR trail pedals and SPD cleats and had no issues mounting the cleat to the shoes. We found there to be ample space around the cleat for both easy entry and exit.

Crankbrothers cleats come preinstalled on the shoe.
Crankbrothers cleats come preinstalled on the shoe.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

The Mallet Boa has an efficient and stiff pedaling platform with a wide range of cleat adjustability, a combination that can sometimes be difficult to find in a clipless shoe. Overall, this shoe really impressed our testers in this metric earning it high marks.

Comfort


The Mallet Boa is a unisex shoe, so our testers used Crankbrothers' online sizing chart to determine what size would be best for our 8.5 women's foot. We found the sizing chart to be accurate and a EU39.5 or US Men's 7 fits perfectly in both length and width.


The shoe has a mid-volume fit with silicone heel dots that ensure your feet stay in place, especially on technical climbs. The Boa lacing system pulls tension evenly and securely wraps the foot keeping it in place. Throughout testing, we never felt foot slop fore, aft, or laterally, and always felt stable on the pedals no matter how rowdy the terrain.

The shoes fit comfortably, but the breathability is lacking in hot...
The shoes fit comfortably, but the breathability is lacking in hot weather.
Photo: Byron Adams

Our testers enjoyed the set-it-and-forget-it nature of the Boa lacing system on the Mallet Boa. Unlike some shoes that need adjustment during a ride or whose laces loosen, the Mallet Boa is the one shoe we thought the least about once it was on our foot and the fit is incredibly comfortable.

During our testing we wore the Mallet Boa on a variety of terrain and never experienced too much flex through the midsole or foot fatigue, making them a great choice for long rides, especially on technical terrain.

Silicone dots inside the heel pocket help to keep your heels down on...
Silicone dots inside the heel pocket help to keep your heels down on technical climbs.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

The biggest drawback to the Mallet Boa is the lack of breathability. The small mesh windows and perforations do not provide enough airflow into the shoe in hot conditions. However, they do breathe better than some of the other shoes tested, but breathability is one area that we feel the shoe could be improved.

We noticed the shoe's lack of breathability when we wore a different...
We noticed the shoe's lack of breathability when we wore a different shoe on each foot.
Photo: Ashley Elijah

Walkability


Our SPD cleats were slightly recessed from the Match Outsole making walking easy and preventing the cleat from slipping while hiking. The sole flexes comfortably through the toe to allow a normal walking gait. The rubber soles provide good traction on rock and most other conditions off the bike.


The Match Outsole on the Mallet Boa has directionally angled lugs at the heel and toe for additional traction while hiking and a ramped toebox for hiking on steep terrain. The majority of the tread is still spaced fairly close together and doesn't provide the best grip in wet conditions and can easily cake with mud and other debris.

The front of the shoe flexes at the last set of toe box lugs, just...
The front of the shoe flexes at the last set of toe box lugs, just in front of the Match Box, making walking comfortable.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Protection


The Mallet Boa is designed for enduro and downhill use and has additional foot protection. The tongue and heel pocket are both highly padded and comfortable. The padded tongue also helps disperse pressures from the Boa lacing which sits across the top of the foot in hidden eyelets that help protect the laces.


The front of the shoe's toe box has a layer of TPU reinforcement which provides impact protection while maintaining a sleek, low profile and enough protection from stray rocks that kick up on the trail. However, the area above the toe box behind the TPU is thin and not quite as protective. A great feature of the synthetic uppers is that they are scuff resistant, repel water, and are easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth.

The TPU toebox offers protection from rocks, but the area over the...
The TPU toebox offers protection from rocks, but the area over the forefoot is thin and does not offer as much protection. However, the tongue and ankle area are highly padded.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Weight


Our size EU39.5 Mallet Boa weighs 379-grams per shoe, (758-grams per pair) which is on the lighter side for enduro/downhill-specific shoes in our test. Overall, they fall in the middle of our lineup for weight which is impressive given their burlier feel and full coverage rubber soles.


A size EU39.5 weighs 379-grams per shoe.
A size EU39.5 weighs 379-grams per shoe.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Value


The Mallet Boa is one of the more expensive shoes in our lineup, but in comparison to the most expensive shoes we tested, it performs as well or better than some of the pricier selections in many metrics. There is an upcharge for the Boa lacing and we should note the shoe is available in a Speed Lace and Lace version at lower price points. It is also worth noting that these shoes come with a set of Crankbrothers cleats installed, which can save you $25 bucks or so if you already use Crankbrothers pedals.

Conclusion


For the rider looking for a do-it-all shoe with excellent power transfer, a secure and comfortable fit, and good walkability, the Mallet Boa is a solid choice. Our testers were impressed with this shoe's dialed fit and appreciate the lateral support it provides over the pedals. The shank is stiff enough for big power moves, but not so stiff as to be uncomfortable. The shoe's overall breathability is lacking, but like with many shoes, this is the trade-off for additional foot protection. The Mallet Boa is a versatile shoe we will happily wear on short or long trail rides, days lapping the bike park, or adventure rides with a hike a bikes.

We are impressed with this shoe's fit and power transfer and feel it...
We are impressed with this shoe's fit and power transfer and feel it is a solid shoe for trail riding in addition to enduro and downhill riding.
Photo: Ashley Elijah

Tara Reddinger-Adams