It kind of goes without saying, but the demands placed on a 160mm travel enduro bike are just a little bit different to those expected of a lightweight carbon hardtail. Rather than paper-thin tyres designed for zipping up hardpack climbs, you’re likely to need more aggressive rubber with reinforced casings that’ll stay intact while smooshing them into pointy rocks on the descents. Likewise, you’ll probably want wider and stronger rims to support those tyres. And a bigger fork with more suspension travel to take the hits. And bigger brake callipers and larger diameter rotors. Maybe wider handlebars, a dropper post…
Likewise, the demands placed on your footwear for such riding are going to be a little bit different too. Chances are you’ll be riding rougher trails that might see you pushing or hiking with your bike once in a while, so walking grip and comfort becomes a more important aspect. And when you’re smashing back down technical descents at higher speeds, you’ll be wanting more protection for your feet too.
Looking to address the different needs of different types of riders, Mavic’s latest mountain bike shoe range splits into three separate categories; XC, Trail and All Mountain. The Deemax shoes slot into the All Mountain category, and feature burly uppers, aggressive rubber outsoles, and a generous mid-top construction that delivers more protection. These aren’t shoes for XC racers and marathon riders – they’re tough SPD boots designed for trail riders, enduro racers and even downhillers.
Mavic Deemax Pro SPD Shoe Features
- Lace-up closure with additional velcro strap
- 3D breathable mesh upper
- Asymmetric mid-top upper with ankle protection
- Reinforced toe and heel caps for protection
- Energy Grip AM Outsole
- Index Energy Transfer: 60
- Open cleat channel fits all standard SPD cleats
- Contagrip™ rubber compound for walking grip
- Ortholite cushioned footbeds
- Colours: Black (tested) or Yellow/Black
- Sizes: EU 39 through to 49
- Confirmed weight: 579g per shoe (size 10.5 UK)
- RRP: £159
Mavic offers two different Deemax models; the Deemax Elite, and the Deemax Pro (tested). Both are SPD-compatible shoes that use the same high-traction Contagrip rubber outsole. The Deemax Pro we’ve got here however gets a taller, asymmetric mid-top upper for more coverage, and added security thanks to a full lace-up closure system with the addition of one big fat velcro strap. There’s a wide range of sizes, and you have the option of the black version I’ve been riding with (yellow and black laces are included in the box), though there’s also a hyper-bright yellow and black finish on offer if you possess a bike and any kit that matches it.
Soft & Supportive
When slipping on the Deemax Pro shoes for the first time, you’re met with a snug and generously-padded fit that kind of feels like you’re wearing thicker socks than you are. They envelop your feet with a comfortable and cosy feel not unlike a hiking boot, with the thick mesh tongue and foam Ortholite footbeds cushioning your feet from both above and underneath. The asymmetric cut sees the inside of the shoe wrap up quite high over your ankle bone, with soft foam padding offering some extra protection between your ankle and the sharp edges of your crankset. Despite the generous padding, the shoes retain a relatively narrow profile that never caused any untoward rubbing with crank arms or chainstay tubes.
As I’ve been finding lately with shoes such as the Specialized 2FO Cliplite Lace and the ION Rascals, a lace-up design offers more adjustability and a more secure fit compared with ‘quick-fit’ systems like ratchets and BOA dials. Laces tend to have more anchor points, allowing you to fine tune the upper’s fit over the top of each foot. Unless you have exactly average-sized feet, this extra adjustability can go a long way to getting the shoes nice and comfortable. It does take longer to fit and remove each shoe, but we’re talking seconds here, and unless you’re Bill Gates, you can probably afford those precious seconds.
To increase retention, a large velcro strap anchors your feet with authority. The wide strap has a small degree of elasticity to it, so it’s possible to reef up on it quite tightly as you’re snugging it down, and there’s enough velcro overlap that the strap sits neatly on the outside of the shoe without flapping about.
Make sure you take note on sizing though – Mavic recommends you upsize, as the Deemax shoes apparently ‘trim small’. I’m normally around a UK size 10, and in the Deemax Pro shoes I found the 10.5 to be spot-on. That said, with the soft foam padding and the lace-up design, there’s quite a lot of flexibility to the fit of the Deemax Pro. The width is pretty neutral, though volume is on the bigger side. That said, I’d still encourage trying them on if you have particularly wide feet though, as there might not be sufficient flex through the synthetic upper to accommodate really broad feet.
In general, I found the Deemax Pro shoes to be supremely comfy. However, I didn’t totally gel with the lace-up design. Because the last two lace eyelets are so high up on the shoe, the knotted lace has a habit of slowly creeping up and over the tongue, where it then rests directly on your sock, where it can rub with fervour. This could be a symptom of fit – I have relatively low volume, flipper-like feet, so it might just be me. And if I backed off the lace tension a bit, the issue was much less pressing. That said, if the laces were anchored just a bit further down the upper rather than where they currently sit, the problem would be completely rectified. Alternatively, a slightly longer tongue might provide the necessary barrier.
High Traction Tread
Used on other Mavic shoes such as the Alpine XL and Crossmax Enduro shoes we’ve tested previously, the Contagrip rubber outsole is constructed from a soft compound rubber and is cut with aggressive tread blocks to deliver proper walking grip. The chunky soles continue the hiking boot theme on the Deemax Pro shoes, but it also meant that these have quickly become my go-to shoe for tackling everything from high altitude riding through to wet and muddy valley rides, where hoiking a bike over a gate and trudging through slippery mud is an inevitable ride feature.
They’re also good times on dusty, loose rocky trails too. During a recent riding trip over in Finale Ligure, the added traction on the Deemax Pros compared to more fashionable skate-inspired trail shoes was hugely beneficial for scootching our way up steep rocky inclines before reaching the descending prize we were hiking up for. It’s quite nice not to be slipping and sliding around while you’re carrying a bike on your back.
Back home on those muddy, splooshier rides, the Deemax Pros have done well to keep my feet shielded from slippery rocks and accidental toe-pokes. There’s good protection that wraps around each toe, and the reinforced heel cap also gives usable protection for the bones within. Because of all the mesh inside, the Deemax Pros do absorb a reasonable amount of water, but while I haven’t ridden with them in the dead of winter yet, so far they’ve remained surprisingly well insulated even when they’re sopping. And propped up against the dehumidifier in my basement, they’re normally dry to ride with the next day.
I haven’t ridden with them in much warmer conditions than 25°C, though given the generous coverage, thick mesh padding and low-key ventilation, I don’t expect these to be the most breezy shoes for those who are lucky to ride in climates above 30°C. There’s certainly enough fabric to absorb sweat build-up, but those who suffer from hot feet and who ride in hot conditions may be better served elsewhere.
I’ve setup the Deemax Pro shoes with several different clip-in pedals, including Shimano XT Trails, Nukeproof Horizon CLs, and more recently, Crank Brothers Mallet DH pedals. With the former two pedals, I’ve made use of the included steel cleat plate that Mavic supplies with each pair of Deemax Pro shoes. The tread is fairly deep on the underside of the shoe, so the shim is necessary to push the cleat away from the shoe and more cleanly into the pedal mechanism. With the Mallet DH pedals, I’ve also had to use the small black plastic Crank Brothers shim that comes with those pedals. This is pretty typical, as Crank Bros cleats are on the thinner side and often require a little more platform underneath them.
Pedal engagement and disengagement proved to be much smoother than I expected for such a chunky trail shoe, and that’s down to two factors. One factor is the long cleat channel that allows for more free space in front and behind of the cleat. The other factor is the relatively smooth tread on each side of the cleat area. Together, there’s less interference as you slide your shoe over the pedal body to find the clip mechanism. And once you are clipped in, the smooth tread provides a consistent and stable platform between shoe and pedal. Stiffness is very good throughout the midsole, with only a small amount of flex built-in to the toe area to help with walking comfort. Otherwise there is little twist and bowing of the shoe when you’re mashing on the pedals.
A top quality pair of riding boots that offer a soft and cosy fit, with great adjustability and one of the grippiest rubber outsoles I’ve encountered. Cleat shims are necessary to get certain pedals setup correctly, and I would like to see some alterations to lace eyelet placement to improve comfort further. The chunky rubber sole and liberal use of protection also means the Deemax Pros are quite a weighty pair of boots, coming in at 579g per shoe. But they’re not XC race shoes after all, and I found the grip, comfort and protection was well worth it for riding technical trails where hike-a-biking is inevitable.
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 5 months|