We take our testing far when we look at these products. Each shoe gets hundreds of miles of cranking, stretching, flexing, disassembling when possible, and all manner of poking, prodding, and pulling apart. They all saw road time, trainer time, and even time walking around in coffee shops and brewery courtyards. We made sure to get after hills, hit the hammer-fest crit rides, and spend time in tour mode tooling around at 18 for 3+ hours to see what kinds of flaws we could grind out to rate each shoe on a set of comparative metrics.
Beyond that, we look at claims made by the companies and how users are reporting their experience and test to see how those claims hold up in the field. Composite sole just as stiff as carbon? We'll see. Does ventilation cool the foot? Let's go out and get sweaty. Most comfortable shoe on the market? Let's set up the trainer and do cadence work.
We were lucky enough to keep these shoes for long enough to get in almost 1500 miles in hot, windy, wet, flat, hilly, and mountainous conditions. We tested primarily in southern Virginia, but also made it to hilly Richmond and the coastal and interior ranges along the Pacific surrounding San Diego. We're also sure to exploit our well-tenured friends and fellow group riders for guinea pigging, feedback, tech gossip, and support. We use our testing, research, and analysis to bring you honest, unbiased reviews.
Throughout the review, we focus on five metrics, comfort, weight, power transfer, adjustability, and durability, which we describe below.
This is a fairly subjective thing, but there are still some universals to comfort. We performed side by sides on the trainer and the road to see what would come out when we cranked and went through the repetitive pedaling motions to check for uneven materials that could chafe and rub and unpadded surfaces that needed padding. We also checked for linings that were too rough and hot spots that only came out on long rides.
This was the easiest measure to check with the simple use of a digital food scale and the good old triple check method.
Testing power transfer was slightly more complicated than the other measures. It is mostly a measure of stiffness in the sole, which can be discerned from researching the materials and verifying with a few good climbs and sprints. What complicates it is that power can also be lost if there is too much give or movement in the upper, which takes more time, more miles, and longer, harder efforts to reveal.
Adjustability comes into play at entry, during exercise, and at exit. We first tested this by tinkering with fastening systems to see how effective each one was - it's easy to open up and lock down when you get in, but is it going to adjust when you're in the middle of a pack that keeps surging into the 30s? We spent a good deal of side by side time beside and on the trainer looking at the ease of entry and exit, in-motion adjustability (catch a buckle at the top of the stroke without stopping), and quick stop adjustment (stop pedaling without losing your pace). We also tested incremental adjustability at mid-ride for each shoe as our feet swelled.
We looked at design, material, and wear to test this measure. Attributes like carbon fiber, premium synthetics, low-profile fasteners, reinforced wear zones, and heavy stitching help us determine durable designs. Rough, hard riding help us put those designs through the wringer. We also look to see if other users experience durability problems and pay special attention to any features that other users report as weak or low quality.