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As you may have seen already Rapha has released their much anticipated Grand Tour Shoe. Footwear is highly dependant on individual preference and fit, but it’s hard to argue with the sheer elegance and workmanship of Rapha’s new shoe.
What Rapha Says
Rapha’s Grand Tour Shoes are the first to use Yak leather, a soft but highly durable upper specifically developed by specialist ecco®. Due to the Yak’s ability to survive in severe conditions, Yak leather delivers unique benefits including lightness, water resistance, breathability and superb tensile strength. It is as soft and supple as kangaroo leather but far more robust. In addition to its natural properties, ecco® have developed the leather to further improve its weatherproof qualities.The nature of the uppers mean they will wear in beautifully to become even more comfortable over time. The upper also has a water and stain repellency treatment and is perforated for added moisture movement and texture.
The upper is paired with a special edition Easton® EC90 carbon sole. At only 6.5mm thick, the EC90 has been proven over many thousands of miles on the Giro ProLight SLX and Factor models. It offers supreme stiffness and an excellent connection to the pedal.
Other details include a machined aluminium buckle (with laser-etched Rapha logo) with padded leather straps and titanium D rings. The shoes are available in white or black with a contrast lower strap, echoing the toe straps of cycling’s golden era. There is also a reflective Rapha logo on the heel.
I’ve been waiting months to tell everybody about these shoes. When DHL came knocking on my door with a rather large package I rushed to open it. I see a lot of Rapha product come through my door and usually know what to expect when I open the box, but this was something else. The packaging, the presentation, the smell of new leather; I’ve never owned something where I can genuinely say it was an “experience” to open the box and see what’s inside. For the first time ever with this kind of thing, I was blown away.
Everyone’s foot is unique and different shoes have their own style of fit. If I were to characterise these I’d say they are a relatively generous fit when compared to other shoes I’ve tried. I’m a size 44 in Shimano, Bont, and SIDI and the Grand Tour shoes fit similarly, but slightly more volume.
I’m obviously not a footwear expert, but one thing I’ve picked up after speaking with Rapha’s product designers is that Giro makes a very impressive shoe. From what I understand they construct each shoe last from scratch instead of making one last and approximating all the other sizes based on increments. Apparently the result is a precision fitting shoe across all sizes.
Comfort and Performance
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that having a good shoe is one of the most important pieces of cycling equipment you can own. More than anything it needs to fit well and be comfortable. That will keep you riding longer. If you don’t notice it, it’s a good thing. I’m happy to say that the Grand Tour shoes are unnoticeable when riding.
Proper cleat adjustment and a comfortable and supportive footbed is a large part of the equation. A small distance between the footbed and the pedal is also important (called “stack height”). The Easton EC90 (100% Unidirectional Carbon) carbon sole is 6.5mm thick and feels very stiff. SIDI has a stack height of 6.7mm on many of their models, and Bont has a very thin 3.6 mm. Will 3mm, 6mm or 10mm make me win Milan San Remo? Definitely not, but people love to obsess over this stuff.
$450 RRP. Who would pay this for a set of shoes? If you’re asking this, I probably can’t convince you anyway. But there’s another way. Read on…
Do you want to win a set of the new Rapha Grand Tour Shoes? All you have to do to enter is:
– Take a photo of your old shoes and post the picture in the comments section (look for “+ image” button at the bottom left of the comment box when you begin writing your comment)
– Simply leave a comment telling me about the most extraordinary place your old shoes have pedalled you to.
Please leave your email address in the comment login (not in your comment itself) so I can contact you if you win. I’ll announce the winner on April 10th – the day the shoes are released (I will draw randomly from all the entrants).
Australia and New Zealand residence are eligible. Please see terms and conditions here.
Full Disclosure: In my day job I am employed by Rapha and will admit to any bias you may interpret. Shimano is also advertising a new custom fit shoe/pedal promotion which I encourage you to take a look at.