Excellent all-mountain bike shoes offering grip off the bike and a decent pedalling platform on it.
Teetering, or more precisely skittering over a wet Lakeland slate outcrop is not the place for a pair of disco slippers, but it’s probably the type of situation that makes most people reassess just what they want out of a pair of mountain bike shoes. Sure those Italian pedigree race shoes seemed like a good idea in the shop, but once you’re on the mountainside the lack of design focus on sole grip makes the pedalling efficiency of the carbon sole a bit of a white elephant. A white elephant on a floor covered in marbles. Wearing roller skates.
If you’re into altitude as much as attitude, then there’s a compromise needed between on and off the bike ability. The need for comfort and grip during hike-a-bike sections and the hope of a decent platform for when you’re pedalling uphill for hours. In designing the Alpine XL I reckon Mavic have got that balance spot on. The Contragrip® sole offers plenty of all-weather traction and grip (including on the aforementioned wet slate), when shouldering the bike is unavoidable. An acceptable amount of foot flex combined with decent insoles makes extended walking sessions comfortable. Once on the bike and pedalling the shoes prove to be suitably stiff. It’s easy with the quick lace system and comfort strap to really cinch them up tight, if that’s how you like it.
Build quality seems suitably robust too, with the shoes doing a good job of resisting wear from rock impact and abrasion. When the going’s loose the mid-ankle neoprene cuff does a good job of shunning grit and gravel intrusion. All in all the Alpine XLs are a solid and sturdy pair of shoes well suited to the mountain environment, and without too much mesh used in the construction they should be usable well into the winter.
Overall: Excellent all-mountain bike shoes offering grip off the bike and a decent pedalling platform on it. You might want to size up though, as we found them a bit on the small side.
Posted on: January 2, 2014