Is 4 years of development time enough for the Crankbrothers Stamp Lace flat shoe to make a mark on the MTB shoe market?
Editors’ Choice 2021
This product features in our Singletrackworld Editors’ Choice 2021 round-up.
Andi: “For years Five Ten were considered the champions of the mountain bike flat shoe world, but in my opinion that dominance finally ended in 2021. Other shoemakers have slowly been catching Five Ten for years now, but in 2021 I tested two pairs of shoes that I feel surpass those Stealth rubber shoes. The first pair of shoes to really woo me away from Five Ten are these, the Crankbrothers Stamp flat shoe. For Crankbrothers to launch a range of shoes – a company better known for component development – was a pretty ballsy move, but the fact that they’re genuinely great shoes is even more impressive.
“Being a maker of both shoes and pedals, Crankbrothers has developed the sole of the Stamp to work with their Mallet flat pedals – I tend to ride with either Nukeproof Horizon or Burgtec Penthouse MK5 pedals, but the Stamp offers incredible grip with either.
“Compared to other shoes, the Stamp isn’t quite as stiff in its flat pedal format, but it is incredibly comfortable to ride and walk in, making it a great shoe for sessioning fun sections of trail over and over again. The sole is quite durable and it offers great traction even in rough terrain. The shoe upper uses a really high-quality synthetic material which offers a little water resistance and cleans up really well. There is a simple lace system to keep the shoes in place with a neat pocket on the tongue to hide the lace loops out of the way. For riding in cooler weather the Stamp is a great choice too with just enough padding to keep the chill off, without the shoe turning into an impossible to dry sponge.
“An honestly great shoe, and one comfortable enough to be worn both on and off the bike.”
Crankbrothers Stamp Lace flat shoe review
The mountain bike shoe market is a crowded place and this year it became even more difficult to choose your next shoes thanks to Crankbrothers. After a viral social media campaign and ensuring some of the most famous riders on the planet were wearing their new kicks, Crankbrothers announced their new footwear range with a lot of hype. So was 4 years of development time worth it? Find out in our review.
Crankbrothers Stamp Lace Shoe Review – Design
Crankbrothers chose a skate-inspired design for the Stamp Lace with a casual upper and simple lace fastening. This is mated to a flat sole that is optimised for use with Crankbrothers own pedals, but as I’ve discovered, it works very well with all brands of flat pedals. My test shoes are the black/gum colour combo with a subtle but smart/casual design that looks great both on and off the bike. Crankbrothers also offers the Stamp Lace in Navy/Gum, Black/Red and a Fabio Wibmer signature White/Gum combo.
The synthetic upper features support and reinforcement around the toe box and heel for protection against knocks and scrapes. While they’re not designed to be a weatherproof shoe, the construction means there are few seams to leak, and this should also help with durability further down the road. As it stands, these Crankbrothers Stamp Lace shoes still look great now even after testing in muddy winter conditions. I’m not sure what Crankbrothers uses for the upper but whatever it is, it’s very easy to clean and the overall drying time of the shoe is much faster than other skate-style MTB shoes I have ridden in the past.
In the Crankbrothers shoe range, there are options for a BOA fastening, but we’re fans of simple laces, especially when they’re safely tucked away as they are on the Stamp Lace shoe. All too often we test a great shoe that’s let down by substandard lace retention, but Crankbrothers have nailed it with small lace ‘pocket’ on the tongue to keep those loops out of the way. I’m also happy to find the material of the laces is of the type that likes to remain tied, some cheaper nylon laces have a habit of easily undoing on the trail, but not these.
The perforated tongue and mesh windows in the upper are further telltale signs that these shoes aren’t really designed for wet weather riding, but they do aid with the breathability of the Stamp Lace and the overall comfort of the shoe.
Comfort is a big part of a good shoe and the Crankbrothers Stamp Lace felt spot-on as soon as I placed my foot in them for the first time. Fit is a subjective matter, but of all the riding shoes I’ve ridden in the Crankbrothers felt the best out of the box. I don’t have an overly wide foot and I found the Stamp Lace to give an excellent balance of fit, comfort and space. No area of the shoe feels tight and no part is overly spacious. This goldilocks fit might not be very interesting to read, but on your feet, it’s a godsend for a long day in the saddle, or on the pedals. A final detail of the inside of the shoe is the dotted heel area featuring small silicone dots that help to prevent your shoe from slipping, a small but functional feature.
The final piece of the puzzle is the sole. Crankbrothers calls its sole design ‘Match’ as it has been designed with the Mallet flat pedal in mind, but has been designed to work with all flat pedals. The Match sole is made of Crankbrothers’ own Match compound chosen for its high-friction, low rebound and durable nature. To further promote long-life the tread pattern is rounded to resist abrasion, and again as you can see from our samples the outsole is lasting well.
Spacing between the main lugs of the tread has been chosen for perfect pin retention and the space between lugs has a secondary, narrower ‘channel’ running down them to help lock pins in place. The midsole is made up of large lugs, while the heel and toe sections have a deeper tread design to aid grip when off the bike. When worn the sole is stiff but not overly so that it affects comfort when walking.
Crankbrothers Stamp Lace Shoe Review – Performance
The trick with flat shoes is to use them with a good quality flat pedal. Unlike SPD shoes which can rely on the mechanical connection between the two, a simple flat pedal set-up needs both the shoe and pedal to work well together.
The benchmark shoe is clearly Five Ten, their sticky Stealth rubber grips everything very well, but some riders find the tacky black sole to be a little too restricting. In comparison, the Crankbrothers Stamp Lace shoe’s tacky rubber compound and cleverly engineered tread shape keep pedal pins locked in place with plenty of traction when pedalling or descending. Throughout our test I paired the Stamp Lace with Crankbrothers’ own Mallet pedals, Burgtec Penthouse MK5 pedals and Nukeproof Horizon pedals, and of all the shoes I have ever ridden, the Crankbrothers sole provided the most consistent and comfortable feel across these 3 pedals.
The listing on the Crankbrothers website tells us that these shoes are intended for downhill and enduro riding, but the level of comfort and breathability lends itself to flat pedal lovers who enjoy putting in long hours in the saddle.
You can see from the photos that I haven’t taken it easy with these shoes, and there are a few marks and abrasions, but considering that this punishment has been dished out in harsh and abrasive winter conditions I feel the Stamp Lace have faired very well.
Though the tread is excellent on the pedal, grip off the bike is exactly what you would expect from a flat shoe in winter conditions. Even with the deeper heal and toe tread you’ll struggle for grip walking up trails in wet conditions, but this is the same for any flat shoe on the market.
How do the Crankbrothers Stamp Compare to a Five Ten?
Ok so let’s cut to the chase! I know many of you are really just asking the question “How do they compare to a Five Ten?” so here goes.
In terms of sheer sticky grip it is pretty much impossible to beat the Stealth sole of a Five Ten, but with that said there was never a moment on the trail where I wished the Crankbrothers shoe would stick firmer. On the contrary, there have been plenty of times when riding in Five Ten where I wished that the sole was a little more forgiving and allowed for micro adjustments. Once a Five Ten bites it generally doesn’t want to let go and this can lead to some exciting experiences in steep technical sections where you’ve needed to dab then not quite got your pedal position correct.
There are riders who love that unbudging grip of a Five Ten and can’t live without it, but I do like the less aggressive traction of the Stamp. It relies on the grip of the tread design and holds pedal pins in channels rather than glueing you in place, meaning there is a little float and adjustment available without any vagueness. I really do feel the Stamp is a near-perfect balance.
In terms of build and features well the Crankbrothers shoe might also take it here too. Compared to the latest Parley Prime Blue Freerider Pro from Five Ten, the Stamp has a better lace retention solution, the lace’s eyelets are hidden so they don’t fill up with dirt, and there are large section of elastic on the tongue that helps keep the loam out.
To think Crankbrothers are the new kids on the block, they’ve produced a pretty impressive shoe even when compared to what is regarded as the king of flats!
What We Love
- High quality materials and design.
- Perfect balance of grip and comfort.
- Easy to clean and fast drying.
What Could be Better
- Waterproof options would be great.
- That’s it…..
Crankbrothers Stamp Lace Shoe Review – Conclusion
So was 4 years of development worth it? Yes, very much so! For a company with no experience in technical clothing and shoe design to produce such a well-sorted shoe is very impressive, to make one that competes with what many believe is the best flat shoe on the market is incredible!
Overall a stylish, comfortable and feature-packed flat pedal shoe that delivers a great balance of grip/traction and movement.
|Tested:||by Andi Sykes for 10 weeks|
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