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Giro Privateer R Review

If you're on a budget, look no further than the full-featured, high performance, and reasonably priced Privateer R.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $100 List | $64.95 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, durable, comfortable, affordable, grippier rubber outsole
Cons:  Minimal foot protection, not the stiffest sole
Manufacturer:   Giro
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 31, 2017
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 17
  • Power Transfer - 30% 8
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Traction Walkability - 20% 7
  • Weight - 15% 9
  • Durability - 15% 7

Our Verdict

In professional mountain bike racing, the term Privateer refers to an unsponsored racer who pays their own way. With this type of racer in mind, Giro created the Privateer, R an affordable clipless mountain bike shoe that has been packed with features and performance. While it is far from the least expensive shoe on the market, the Privateer R falls at the bottom of the price range of the shoes in our test selection. An impressive value considering the style, performance, and features. Budget-conscious riders will find everything they need in this versatile, lightweight shoe that fits great, pedals well and performs better off the bike than the previous version with an updated rubber outsole for 2017. We found the Privateer R to be ideal for XC, trail, and gravel grinding, although more gravity oriented riders seeking more foot protection may want to look elsewhere.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Giro Privateer R
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $64.95 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare at 2 sellers
$209.95 at Competitive Cyclist
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$180 List$200.00 at REI
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$199.90 at Competitive Cyclist
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Pros Lightweight, durable, comfortable, affordable, grippier rubber outsoleLightweight, comfortable, stiff, great power transfer, vibram soles, customizable insolesLightweight, comfortable, versatile, Boa closures, styling, reasonable priceGrippy rubber soles, good foot protection, comfortable, great power transfercomfortable, versatile, great traction while hiking, boa closures, good style
Cons Minimal foot protection, not the stiffest soleNo on-the-fly adjustments, limited foot protection, expensiveRoomy toe-box, slip-not rubber could be more grippyPotential durability issuesSometimes too grippy for a clipless focused shoe, heavy
Bottom Line If you're on a budget, look no further than the full-featured, high performance, and reasonably priced Privateer R.The Empire VR90 is the lightest, stiffest, and most comfortable shoe in our test and the winner of our Editors' Choice award.Our Top Pick for Trail Riders, the 2FO Cliplite is a unique looking shoe packed with performance and features from one of the biggest brands in the bike industry.The ME7 is a thoughtfully designed, versatile, and high performance all mountain and enduro shoe.The Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa is our Top Pick for Enduro Racers and those partaking in regular extensive hike-a-bike sections
Rating Categories Giro Privateer R Giro Empire VR90 Specialized 2FO Cliplite Shimano ME7 Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa
Power Transfer (30%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Comfort (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Traction Walkability (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Weight (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
Durability (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
9
Specs Giro Privateer R Giro Empire VR90 Specialized 2FO... Shimano ME7 Five Ten Kestrel...
Closure Strong and secure N-1 ratcheting buckle closure (replaceable) Offset strap D-ring at mid-foot, 2 velcro straps Laces 2 Boa S2-Snap dials, velcro strap over the forefoot Speed lace system and upper ratchet strap, Large velcro panel over laces Boa dial plus velcro at toe box
Measured Weight 411 grams 388 grams 426 grams 425 grams 511 grams
Width Options regular and high volume regular and high volume Regular Regular Regular
Upper Material Microfiber Microfiber Thermobonded upper Synthetic Synthetic
Footbed molded EVA footbed molded EVA footbed Specialized Body Geometry Extra-cushion insole OrthoLite
Sole nylon Easton EC90 Carbon Fiber Nylon Composite Carbon fiber composite sole/midsole Carbon-infused nylon shank
Outsole Co-molded nylon and rubber high traction lugged outsole, Mid-foot scuff guard, Accommodates steel toe spikes Vibram Mont Molded Rubber High Traction Lugged Outsole, Mid-Foot Scuff Guard, Accomodates Steel Toe Spikes SlipNot rubber sole Michelin rubber outsole Steatlh C4 rubber
Size Tested 45 45 43.5 44 10.5

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Giro Privateer R is a versatile performance-oriented clipless mountain bike shoe at an affordable price. We found this shoe to meet the demands of cross country, trail and gravel grinding style rides, although enduro and gravity oriented riders may be left wanting for a bit more foot protection and walkability. That said, riders on a budget will be satisfied with the Privateer R's fit, comfort, power transfer, and improved outsole traction. The Privateer R works well with all clipless pedal types but we'd recommend them for use with small platform and no-platform models. Of course, there are less expensive shoes on the market, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better shoe at a lower price than the Privateer R.

Performance Comparison


We found the Privateer R to be great for most types of riding  but especially fun berms like this one while testing in South Lake Tahoe  CA
We found the Privateer R to be great for most types of riding, but especially fun berms like this one while testing in South Lake Tahoe, CA

Comfort


Giro's Privateer R is a comfortable shoe, and the fit is similar to the other Giro models we tested such as the Giro Empire VR90, winner of the Editors' Choice award, and the Giro Cylinder.


The fit of all the Giro models is slightly smaller than other brands, but this results in a very snug and precise fit, especially once you break them in. The medium arch support footbed is quite thin and doesn't offer much in the way of cushioning, although it cradles the arch and heel perfectly in a comfortable position. The Microfiber uppers feel and look a lot like leather and are soft and supple, conforming to your foot's shape over the course of the first ride or two. Lots of small holes perforated in the uppers provide some ventilation, through the mesh panels from the previous version have been done away with. There is minimal cushioning throughout the shoe, except around the ankle cuff, and overall the shoe provides little protection to the feet, especially when compared to more enduro oriented shoes like our Top Pick for Enduro Racers, the Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa. The shoe is tightened around the foot by two wide Velcro straps over the lower and middle of the shoe, with a ratchet strap finishing the task at the top of the tongue. The closures do an excellent job of securing the shoe and do so quite comfortably as well. The cleat mount area offers a relatively small range of adjustability but is situated such that most riders will likely find their ideal position.

With soft uppers  a nice footbed  and good closures  the Privateer R is comfortable out of the box for all day trail rides like this one while testing in North Lake Tahoe  CA.
With soft uppers, a nice footbed, and good closures, the Privateer R is comfortable out of the box for all day trail rides like this one while testing in North Lake Tahoe, CA.

Weight


The Privateer R is competitively lightweight compared to other models in our test selection, being edged out by the Editors' Choice award-winning Giro Empire VR90 and the Giro Cylinder


The Privateer R, however, is half the price of the Empire and offers lightweight performance at a much more affordable price. Sure it lacks the carbon fiber bling factor, but that's why it's so affordable.


Power Transfer


The Privateer R offers excellent power transfer to the pedals, especially when you consider the price. The flex of the sole is negligible, but noticeable when compared to a shoe with a carbon sole like the Giro Empire VR90.


That said, most riders would likely be satisfied with the stiffness of the Privateer R, although hardcore XC racers might want to look for a stiffer sole on a shoe like the Sidi Cape, the Shimano S-Phyre XC9, of the Giro Empire VR90.


Traction Walkability


The updated outsole rubber on the Privateer R has significantly improved this shoe's traction and overall grip when walking on virtually any surface.


The new rubber outsole is softer and therefore grips better than the old harder rubber used on the previous version, providing you with more comfort and confidence during dismounts and hike-a-bikes. The tread pattern features nearly full coverage of the nylon sole with large lugs under the heel and the ball of the foot on both sides of the cleat which clear mud easily. The toe and heel of the sole also offer a slight amount of give while walking. The shoe also accepts toe cleats, which are sold separately.


Durability


It stands to reason that the softer rubber of the outsole would be more likely to wear out than the harder rubber of the previous version — we have not, however, found that to be an issue.


Other updates to the Privateer R include a thick rubber rand that protects the majority of the toe of the shoe and a rubberized coating on the pinky toe and the heel of the shoe to protect the upper material. The rubber rand is quite thick and does a great job of preventing wear in that area while also adding some protection for the toes from rock strikes. The rubberized coating on the pinky toe and heel of the shoe is very thin and helps to prevent light abrasion in those areas, but one hard scrape on a rock will wear right through it. That said, the pinky toe area of the Privateer R is the only place that the shoes are showing any wear, as the rest of the uppers, soles and closures look almost brand new after hundreds of miles of abuse. The placement of the ratchet on the outside of the shoe is susceptible to damage although we have had no issues with it thus far and it is replaceable just in case.

Some abrasion damage to the uppers of the Privateer R. A little more protection would be nice for the toes and the synthetic material.
Some abrasion damage to the uppers of the Privateer R. A little more protection would be nice for the toes and the synthetic material.

Best Applications


The Privateer R is a lightweight and relatively stiff shoe that offers minimal foot protection, making it best suited for cross country and general trail riding. It is comfortable and light on the feet, making it great for rides of any length from a quick backyard lap to an all-day epic. We also found it to be sleek and light enough for use on the road bike and gravel grinding.

Value


The Privateer R is a fantastic value, at only $120. The Privateer R delivers quality construction, durability, and performance in a comfortable package. We would recommend this shoe to anyone with limited cash to spare but who doesn't want to compromise on performance.

We don't think you can find a better mountain bike shoe for the price than the Privateer R.
We don't think you can find a better mountain bike shoe for the price than the Privateer R.

Conclusion


The Privateer R is a quality, high-performance clipless mountain bike shoe at a price that is hard to beat. It has classic cross-country race shoe styling and delivers excellent power transfer and comfort for all types of riding. Recent updates to the Privateer R have improved durability slightly while making the shoe's traction, and walkability has improved dramatically. We would recommend this shoe for budget-conscious performance-minded riders who are unwilling to shell out the cash for more expensive models.

Other Versions and Accessories


Giro also offers the Privateer R HV, a higher volume model of the Privateer R for the same price. A toe spike kit is also available for $15.


Jeremy Benson