There's a reason that many of the top professional Enduro and Downhill racers wear the Giro Chamber II shoes. This beefy clipless mountain bike shoe provides impressive power transfer and excellent foot protection in a comfortable and highly durable package. Don't let the skate shoe inspired looks fool you, the Chamber II has a stiff sole designed to optimize power transfer when climbing or sprinting, while a little flex through the toe makes them great for walking. A full coverage Vibram sole offers plenty of grip on the pedals and the ground during those hike-a-bikes. The lace closure is simple but effective, with a wide velcro strap across the top to keep them snug. A rubber rand around the toe, durable microfiber uppers, and padding around the ankle, heel, and tongue provide loads of protection for the feet. Read on to find out why the Chamber II is our Top Pick for Gravity Riders.
Giro Chamber II Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Reasonably priced, comfortable, stiff, good foot protection
Cons: Heavy, wide forefoot
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Chamber II is the recently redesigned version of Giro's popular Chamber clipless mountain bike shoe. The primary changes to the EWS and World Cup DH winning Chamber shoe are 10mm of cleat setback, a new Tri-Mold internal shank to optimize the rigidity and flex through the sole, and a little refresh of the shoe's styling. The Chamber II is intended to be an aggressive enduro and downhill riding and racing shoe, and testers found it best suited to those disciplines. Testers loved the comfort, power transfer, walkability, and durability of this beefy shoe. It earned our Top Pick for Gravity Riders Award.
Comfort is one of the Chamber II's strong suits. Not only do they have skate/casual shoe styling, but they also fit kind of like them too. Giro makes a lot of different mountain bike shoes, and they seem to have figured out how to make them all quite comfortable. The uppers are made from a water-repellent microfiber material that feels extremely durable yet conforms to the feet nicely after the first few hours of use. The footbed is simple and relatively minimal, but testers found it to have a good shape and offer decent arch support.
One of the first things you notice when you put them on is the generous amount of padding around the ankle, heel, and on the tongue, this aids in the overall comfort of the shoe as well as the protection of the feet. Testers also like the piece of mind that the full coverage Vibram sole and rubber rand around the toe gave them, as it deflected small rocks and trail debris encountered while riding.
The Chamber II uses traditional shoelaces and a large velcro strap to secure them to your feet. While they lack the on the fly adjustment convenience of shoes with Boa style closures like those found on the Specialized 2FO Cliplite, testers found the laces to be very comfortable and secure. The large velcro strap at the top of the tongue can be as tight or loose as you like and can be adjusted quickly on the fly.
This closure system is very similar to those found on the Five Ten Kestrel Lace and the Five Ten Hellcat Pro, although the laces on the Chamber II come down a little further towards the toe and provide a more even tension over the foot. The uppers of the Chamber II are perforated with hundreds of small ventilation holes. We didn't notice that these shoes felt especially well ventilated, but we think they do a better job of keeping the air flowing than either of the Five Ten models we tested.
At 525g or 18.51oz per shoe in the size 44 we tested, the Chamber II's weight is the least impressive thing about them. That said, this is a full 40g lighter than the other purely gravity oriented clipless mountain bike shoe in our test, the Five Ten Hellcat Pro, which weighs 565g per shoe. In general, shoes made with aggressive enduro or downhill riding in mind tend to weigh a bit more than the super-light models you are likely to find on the feet of XC racers like the Giro Empire VR90 or the Shimano S-Phyre XC9, both of which weigh about 175g less.
The reason the Chamber II shoes weigh more than most of the other shoes in our test selection is obvious. The full coverage Vibram sole, beefy, durable construction, and foot protection features all contribute to the heft of these shoes. Interestingly, the Chamber II doesn't feel unusually heavy on the feet when walking or while riding, especially compared to the other heavier weight shoes in our test like the Five Ten Hellcat Pro or the Five Ten Kestrel Lace.
If you've ever watched Richie Rude during an EWS race run, then you've seen the Chamber II in action, and you know what kind of power these shoes can transfer to the pedals. While they are by no means carbon sole, XC race stiff, they are much stiffer than you'd assume just by looking at them. The Tri-Mold internal shank design allows for toe flex in front of the cleat but provides a very solid platform from the cleat back, which does an excellent job delivering power from your legs to your drivetrain.
Sure, expensive carbon-soled XC race shoes like the Giro Empire VR90 and the Shimano S-Phyre XC-9 have uncompromisingly stiff soles. They outperform the Chamber II in the power transfer department, but they aren't made to compete with shoes like those. Surprisingly though, shoes like the Chamber II and the new breed of all-mountain/trail shoes do still provide excellent power transfer while offering excellent walkability, enhanced foot protection, and comfort.
The Chamber II has virtually no flex underfoot, and scored highly in this rating metric. When pedaling, even during hard sprinting efforts, there is no noticeable flex in the sole. This power transfer is on par with the other similar shoes like the Five Ten Kestrel Lace, Specialized 2FO Cliplite, Five Ten Hellcat Pro, Giro Terraduro, and Specialized 2FO Cliplite Lace. All of these shoes offer a very similar style of sole that has flex through the toe with a stiff shank underfoot.
The Chamber II got very high marks in the traction walkability rating metric, outdone only by the Shimano ME7.
The full coverage Vibram Megagrip outsole has a raised hexagonal dot pattern that is grippy on virtually all surfaces. The Vibram rubber used in the outsole is a medium density, slightly softer than that used on the Specialized 2FO Cliplite Lace, but slightly firmer than the stealth rubber found on the Five Ten Kestrel Lace.
Like the other similar enduro and all-mountain shoes in our test selection, the Chamber II's walkability is enhanced by a small amount of flex through the toe that allows the user to walk more or less regularly. Other high scoring competitors like the Shimano ME7 and the Specialized 2FO Cliplite have a very similar style of sole that performs well on and off the bike. This is in stark contrast to the thoroughbred race shoes like the Shimano S-Phyre XC9 that has no flex and make for awkward walking.
After several weeks of testing, we found the Chamber II shoes to be highly durable. In fact, we haven't exposed a single weakness in their construction whatsoever. Despite lots of high speed encounters with trailside obstacles, the uppers appear in virtually the same condition as when we took them out of the box, minus a little mud and dirt of course. All of the stitching remains intact with loose threads or loose ends to speak of.
Even after hundreds of miles of riding and quite a few dismounts and hike-a-bikes, the Vibram soles of the Chamber II look barely used. In contrast, the softer stealth rubber used on the soles of the Five Ten Kestrel Lace are beginning to show signs of wear after similar amounts of use and abuse. We believe the Chamber II is one of the most durable shoes in our test selection.
Our Top Pick for Gravity Riders Award winner, the Chamber II is best suited for enduro and downhill riding. This is not to say that it isn't a capable all-mountain or trail riding shoe; it can certainly be used for any type of riding. However, its additional weight and bulk make it better for those more focused on descending than pedaling uphill. If you're the type of rider who rides lifts, does car shuttles, and generally loves to smash downhill, then this is a great shoe for the job. You certainly can spend all day pedaling uphill in this shoe, as enduro racers have proven, but we feel there are lighter weight shoe options that are better suited to long days in the saddle.
With excellent power transfer, comfort, walkability and durability and a retail price of $150, we feel the Chamber II is a great value to the right consumer. Gravity oriented riders who don't mind a little heavier shoe need look no further.
Our testers were thoroughly impressed with the comfort, fit, power transfer, and durability of the Chamber II. Sure it's a little heavier than most shoes in our test selection, and we wouldn't recommend it for XC racers or especially weight conscious riders, but that didn't stop it from earning our Top Pick for Gravity Riders Award. The stiff soles provide excellent transfer of power, while the flex in the toe and full coverage Vibram soles give them great traction and walkability off the bike. The tough microfiber uppers, rubber toe rand, and generous padding provide excellent foot protection in an incredibly durable package at a reasonable price. If you're a descent focused rider looking for a shoe for enduro or downhill, then consider your search over.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Chamber II is offered in two colors, Dark Shadow/Black(tested), and Blue Jewel/Midnight.
Giro also makes a full line of mountain bike shoes including the Privateer R, Terraduro, and Empire VR90, which also appear in our mountain bike shoe test.
— Jeremy Benson