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Giro Cylinder Review

If you're in search of a budget shoe to take care of your XC and gravel biking needs, the Cylinder should suit you well
Giro Cylinder
Photo: Backcountry
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Price:  $150 List | $104.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Stiff, well ventilated, Boa dial, lightweight
Cons:  Narrow fit, more on the road/gravel side of the spectrum, not waterproof, short cleat range
Manufacturer:   Giro
By Dillon Osleger ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 22, 2019
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 18
  • Power Transfer - 20% 8
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Traction Walkability - 25% 7
  • Weight - 15% 10
  • Durability - 15% 6

Our Verdict

Giro produces some of the most popular shoes on the mountain bike and road market, with the Cylinder falling in the middle of their range of shoes by price. It's one of their least expensive models with performance features and styling reminiscent of the top of the line Empire shoe. The reasonably priced Cylinder has the looks, features, and performance that will please the majority of XC and gravel riders without breaking the bank.

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Giro Cylinder
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Price $104.96 at Backcountry
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$149.95 at Backcountry
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Star Rating
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Pros Stiff, well ventilated, Boa dial, lightweightLightweight, reasonable price, casual style, great blend of pedaling stiffness and walkabilityLugged Vibram sole, versatile fit, stiff but walkableVersatile, robust construction, easy adjustment, casual styleLightweight, reasonable price, good power transfer, comfortable
Cons Narrow fit, more on the road/gravel side of the spectrum, not waterproof, short cleat rangeRoomy fit in the forefoot, not the best lateral stabilityLimited on-the-go adjustmentsSingle boa closure, limited traction in wet conditionsMinimal foot protection, not great for walking, smaller cleat adjustment range
Bottom Line If you're in search of a budget shoe to take care of your XC and gravel biking needs, the Cylinder should suit you wellAn affordable, lightweight, casual-looking trail riding shoe with good power transfer and off the bike walkabilityThe ultimate backcountry and adventure riding conquerorThis shoe has the versatility, performance, and style to be a reliable daily driver for any rider, and it won't break the bankA quality shoe that offers high-end performance at a reasonable price
Rating Categories Giro Cylinder Specialized 2FO Roo... Specialized Rime 2.0 Pearl Izumi X-Alp L... Scott MTB Team Boa
Power Transfer (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort (25%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Traction Walkability (25%)
7.0
9.0
10.0
8.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
10.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
10.0
Durability (15%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Specs Giro Cylinder Specialized 2FO Roo... Specialized Rime 2.0 Pearl Izumi X-Alp L... Scott MTB Team Boa
Closure Boa dials, plus velcro strap Laces L6 Boa and Laces L6 Boa Boa iP-1 dial, plus velcro strap
Measured Weight (per shoe) 358 grams 375 grams 419 grams 436 grams 359 grams
Size Tested 45 43.5 44.5 45 44
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Upper Material Synthetic leather, micro fiber Synthetic Leather and Textile XPEL Hydrophobic Mesh Recycled Cordura fabric Synthetic Polyurethane, 3D Airmesh
Footbed Die-cut Specialized Body Geometry Specialized Body Geometry Pearl Izumi Insole ErgoLogic
Sole Co-molded nylon Stiff Lollipop nylon composite plate Lollipop Nylon Composite Composite shank Nylon/Glass Fiber Composite
Outsole Rubber SlipNot FG Vibram Vibra, ECOSTEP StickiRubber

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Cylinder is a purpose-built XC shoe with the performance and features that we have come to expect from Giro at a reasonable price. We found the Cylinder works fine with most clipless pedal styles but performs best with small platform pedals or those with no platform. We tested the Cylinder on all manner of rides, from quick laps in the backyard to long-distance gravel rides to gain an understanding of its key performance characteristics.

Performance Comparison


Testing the Cylinder against similarly priced competitors.
Testing the Cylinder against similarly priced competitors.

Power Transfer


The Giro Cylinder uses a nylon shank similar to its similarly priced all-mountain brother, the Giro Privateer R. The Boa dial system found on the Cylinder does provide a bit more security than the ratchet/velcro combo found on the Privateer, resulting in a noticeable, but not extremely significant increase in power transfer on the Cylinder. The Cylinder is not as stiff as XC shoes utilizing carbon shanks such as the Giro Empire VR90 or the Shimano S-Phyre XC9, making it a second choice for those looking to race XC competitively.

The Cylinder is best suited to riding that doesn't involve much time...
The Cylinder is best suited to riding that doesn't involve much time off the bike. There are other shoes that are far more pleasurable to walk in.
Photo: Dillon Osleger

Comfort


With no adjustable arch support, a fairly basic footbed, and a narrow fit, the Cylinder didn't go about impressing reviewers with its comfort. As a result of these design choices, as well as a tendency for the Boa dial system to cut off circulation on the outer toes, the Giro Cylinder received one of the lowest comfort scores in our test.

Giro clearly intended to make a budget shoe designed to excel at cross country riding, shaving comfort features like footbeds and padding in favor of counting grams. The end result is an extremely light shoe that gives no quarter when it comes to comfort. We would not recommend this shoe if you are looking for something you can ride in all day, nor if you intend to embark on hike-a-bikes or rougher trails. The ventilation method of the Cylinder works well to keep the feet cool but also resulted in moisture being let into the shoe when riding through water or hiking across snow/mud.

The Cylinder didn't impress us with their comfort, though they are...
The Cylinder didn't impress us with their comfort, though they are well ventilated.
Photo: Dillon Osleger

Traction and Walkability


The Cylinder has roughly the same traction and walkability as its equivalent priced brethren: the Bontrager Foray and the Giro Privateer R. This traction could be increased if one was to utilize the option to add metal toe spikes to the Cylinders, which are available for purchase at an additional cost from Giro.

Unfortunately, the comfort of the Cylinder comes into play in reducing the overall walkability of this shoe. When hiking or pedaling for a significant amount of time in this shoe, there is a tendency for circulation to be cut off on the outside of the foot, resulting in loss of feeling and frustration. The solution to this issue was to loosen the boa dial while hiking; however, we don't feel this should be necessary for any shoe that costs more than $100.

Their walking performance isn't great, and they are far from the...
Their walking performance isn't great, and they are far from the most durable shoes we've tested as well.
Photo: Dillon Osleger

Weight


The Giro Cylinder did come in first in one metric on our test, weighing a mere 358g in size 45, we were more than impressed. This is roughly the same weight as the Giro Empire VR90, theSidi Trace 2, and the Shimano S-Phyre XC9, shoes that cost more than twice as much. That said, those more expensive competitors are also more comfortable and higher-performance.

If you are looking to race cross country or hunt KOMs without breaking the bank, the Giro Cylinder will make for a good choice thanks to their light weight and good power transfer.

The Cylinder is the lightest shoe in our test, weighing less than...
The Cylinder is the lightest shoe in our test, weighing less than shoes that cost more than twice as much.
Photo: Dillon Osleger

Durability


Giro had cross country and gravel in mind when designing the Cylinder, neither of which typically include copious amounts of rough terrain or hiking. This design method resulted in a shoe better fit for rides where the shoes stay clipped into the pedals for the entirety rather than being exposed to hiking or dragging an inside foot around a steep corner. Throughout XC and gravel rides, the shoes held up well and would last for a while if used in this capacity; however, upon testing the shoes in all mountain conditions the uppers and sole began to show signs of wear. Exposure to creek crossings, riding through tight brush, and hiking up rocks and loose dirt made the Cylinders look months older than their actual age.

We did not manage to damage the Boa unit on the Cylinder during our test, providing some reassurance that its prominence does not guarantee failure; however, the Boa dial is easily replaced in case of damage.

Value


Dishing out more than one hundred dollars can feel like a lot for a shoe lacking in versatility; however, the Cylinder is not a bad value for those looking for a shoe that can take care of XC, gravel, road, and commuting miles while looking good. If you find yourself wearing knee pads on your rides, the Cylinder is not the shoe for you, with other similarly priced models being better suited for your needs.

XC riders and those looking for a lightweight and well ventilated...
XC riders and those looking for a lightweight and well ventilated are the target audience of the Cylinder.
Photo: Dillon Osleger

Conclusion


The Giro Cylinder is a reasonably priced entry-level XC shoe with a narrow window of versatility, yet has solid elements of design and function from one of the most respected names in the industry. If you are after a sleek looking shoe to handle rides that primarily involve lycra, the Cylinder is a great choice. Those looking to be more competitive in racing or for more comfort and versatility should look towards the Giro Empire VR90.

Dillon Osleger