by Marc Basiliere
March 27, 2014
Hand-made by a company with over 50 years' cycling shoe experience, Gaerne's G.Kobra is an unabashedly high-end, unabashedly racy, unabashedly Italian shoe.
Super-comfy race shoes… with an Achilles’ Heel
Hand-made by a company with over 50 years’ cycling shoe experience, Gaerne’s G.Kobra is an unabashedly high-end, unabashedly racy, unabashedly Italian shoe.
Sitting at the very top of the company’s range, the G.Kobra features a full-carbon sole, dual Boa L5 closures, a lightweight synthetic upper, Italian manufacture- and a price tag to match.
True to size and neither overly narrow nor terribly wide, the G.Kobra is a remarkably comfortable shoe. In fact, it may well be the most comfortable riding shoe this tester has ever worn. The uppers’ minimal seams and three-dimensional forming all but eliminate hot spots while the tongue is substantial enough to keep the thin Boa cables from cutting into the foot, even when cinched tight. Ventilation is good, though not breezy, even as temperatures approach 30°C.
Impressively stiff on the bike, the G.Kobras’ soles have just enough forefoot flex to be comfortable when walking or scrambling, and is aided aided by substantial (for a race shoe) lugs. While they approach trail shoe comfort on hikes and scrambles, it’s off the bike that the Gaernes’ greatest weakness is exposed. As can be seen in the images, the uppers’ shiny synthetic material was quickly and deeply scarred by encounters with trailside rocks, both while pedaling and walking. Performance hasn’t been compromised – yet – but with less than a half-season under their cleats, it’s hard not to worry about the shoes’ long-term durability. While its added complexity was initially worrisome, the Boa system has worked well and – should it fail – comes with free replacements for life.
An excellent fit and near-perfect balance of stiffness and walkability should make the G.Kobras perfect epic adventure and long day shoes.
They have certainly made these the shoes most often reached for. Their fragility and high price, however, mean that they’re often put back on the shelf when any walking is expected. For 2014, the G.Kobra Plus adds a more substantial textured microfibre upper, which the company claims should hold up better than our shiny version- and ultimately make for a more justifiable investment.