Occasionally a shoe shocks with impressive performance in all of our rating metrics. More often the results are mixed. The Mad Rock Shark 2.0 represents a rare case where performance is universally underwhelming. Our testers found it to be a soft shoe that somehow manages to also feel insensitive. The limited elasticity of the tongue means that it's frustratingly hard to take on and off for its single strap slipper design. We are also disappointed with its mediocre performance in cracks and pockets. Nevertheless, you can still find plenty of Shark fans online. Try them on if you get a chance, and if they fit you as well as some people say, you'll get to enjoy a great value.
Mad Rock Shark 2.0 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Bargain price, pointy toe for pockets
Cons: Uncomfortable, mediocre at edging, hard to take on and off
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Shark 2.0 is made with 3.8 m of Science Friction rubber fitted to an AES sole that's soft at the center but stiff on the edges. Theoretically, this stiffer outer edge should facilitate good edging, but our testers remain unimpressed. Part of the problem is that the single strap slipper design is ineffective at keeping the foot in place inside the shoe. This lateral play makes it more difficult to use the Shark on small edges and is the primary reason why it receives a subpar edging score.
Apart from the elastic tongue, almost the entirety of the Shark is encased in sticky rubber. This would provide excellent grip inside a crack, if only you could endure the pain this shoe causes. The primary issue Shark's moderate downturn, which places your toes in a curled position. This makes foot and toe jams considerably more painful. These shoes could still be useful for difficult thin cracks with limited jamming, but for ordinary cracks that are hand-sized or larger, there are much better options.
The lead tester wears a 10.5 street shoe but had to size up to an 11 to squeeze his feet inside the Sharks. During the break-in period the Syn Flex upper hardly stretched at all. The result is a shoe that still feels like it doesn't fit despite two months of regular use. Our testers were also underwhelmed with the elasticity of the tongue. Ordinarily, single strap slippers are easy to take on and off, but it's an unpleasant task with the Sharks because they don't stretch open very wide.
When talking about pocket climbing performance, it's important to consider the profile of the toe. From top to bottom, the toe of this shoe is pretty slim, but from side to side, its wider than average. That means the Shark can fit inside some small pockets, but not all. It depends on how they're oriented. If the toe can get inside, the Shark is good for pulling with your feet because they have a considerable downturn from heel to toe and an added edge on the underside of the toe from the concave AES midsole.
The Shark has a soft midsole that stiffens on the forefoot, especially along the edges of the toe. This stiffness boosts support but interferes with your sensitivity in the exact location where the shoe usually contacts the rock. It also features a "Molded Edge Heel" made of a harder rubber compound that heel hooking an imprecise endeavor. Together this means that the Shark is surprisingly insensitive for its otherwise soft design.
Perhaps the best aspect of the Shark is its price. For just a little more than a hundred buck you get a decent shoe made from solid materials. However, there are cheaper options that we recommend for beginners, such as the Best Buy-winning La Sportiva Tarantulace, and we suggest experienced spend a little more to get a lot more performance. Thus, despite its low price, we don't think the Shark is an exceptional value.
There is a bewildering array of options in the climbing shoe market. Unfortunately, the Mad Rock Shark 2.0 did little to distinguish itself from the field of shoes we tested. We concluded that its single strap design feels insensitive and too insecure for marginal edging. To top things off, it's not even easy to take on or off. Due to its low price, however, the Shark could still be worth considering. Maybe you'll be become one of the many happy customers out there eagerly singing its praises.
— Jack Cramer