James Vincent gives up his usual toe-tappers to test out the burly Chamber II shoes from Giro.
The original Giro Chamber was launched back in 2014 as a casual, skate-inspired shoe that would look as good off the bike as it would on, while still having enough pedalling performance to suit the needs of Aaron Gwin who helped design it. As is the way with these things, after a year or four, it’s time for an update, and in this case we get more than a new colour – Giro has tidied the shoe up and taken on board some criticism of the original to give us the catchily named Chamber II.
Compared to the original Chamber, the construction has been streamlined somewhat, giving the shoe a sleeker and more refined look without sacrificing any of the protection of the originals. The styling is still a long way from your classic disco slipper SPD shoe though, and they’re still more than capable of being worn down the pub without too many raised eyebrows. Talking of which, Giro has introduced some additional colour to the design, so the shoes aren’t a solid lump of retina stabbing blue at the end of your legs. They’re still pretty blue (and show no sign of fading), but at least there’s some variation to the design.
Onto more practical matters, the velcro for the strap has been lengthened so the strap no longer flaps about in the breeze. The sole has also seen some significant reworking – in spite of the original Chamber’s intended audience, the cleat mounting slots were relatively short, making it harder to get your feet further forward on the pedal to emulate your classic flat pedal foot placement. On the Chamber II, the slots are further back, and the sole is heavily cut away to help guide your cleat into position with the pedal. I ran these exclusively with Shimano XT Trail pedals, and had no difficulties clipping in at all.
The Vibram sole itself has also been redesigned and now features a more open hexagonal tread pattern across the entire sole to improve traction. Granted, it’s not going to rival a more aggressive tread but it’s not bad at all, and I’ll quite happily sacrifice a little bit of traction on wet grass for more confidence on wet rocks.
These shoes, like the original Chambers were destined for Wil, but as the shoes have slimmed down in looks, they’ve also slimmed down in width and these size 44 Chamber IIs are slightly narrower than the originals. Bad news for Wil who was a borderline 44/45, good news for me with my 43/44 feet. There’s plenty of wiggle room for my toes, the lace and velcro combo means the fit is super adjustable and there’s hardly any heel lift, even on extended hike-a-bikes. Expect them to be snug for their claimed size.
Before trying these shoes, I was a dyed in the wool user of shoes descended from a more XC orientation – think Giro Terraduro, Mavic Alpine XL. That is to say, I’m used to a relatively stiff sole for pedalling efficiency, at the slight expense of walking comfort. But the Chamber IIs do not disappoint, and I haven’t noticed any drop in pedalling efficiency. They’re also super comfortable to walk in and I frequently leave them on for post ride pub visits. Oh, and they’re great for climbing trees and running about getting into all sorts of odd places when snapping away on photoshoots.
As for durability, they’ve been thoroughly abused throughout the Lakes, and are holding up pretty well, with one minor caveat – most of the riding shoes I get through, fail around the cleat cutaway after a year or so as the outsole starts to separate from the midsole. Unfortunately, these have just started to go on the left shoe in the same place, so I’ll be watching carefully how it progresses over the next few months, but other than this things are looking good and I’ll happily wear these to the death. And then get another pair.
In spite of the extra bulk and padding than I’m used to, I’ve not found my feet to get overly hot, and I can only assume they’ll keep my toes that little bit warmer when the weather turns, as well as having a smidgen more space for some thicker waterproof socks when the need arises. They also do a great job of keeping minor splashes out, thanks to the lack of mesh panels, and when they do get wet they keep your foot pretty warm thanks to the increased padding over a more lightweight shoe.
As mentioned earlier, I used to be a hardcore disco slipper advocate. But having worn these exclusively for the last couple of months, I’m sold. They’re great to ride in, comfortable to walk in, and look good.
|Product:||Chamber II Shoes|
|Tested:||by James Vincent for 3 months|