We've frequently noted the incredible rigidity of Gaerne's carbon road shoes in the past, and the latest Speedplay Carbon G.Chrono model is no different. These aren't just stiff, though; they're also very comfy and an easy choice for Speedplay pedal devotees looking for a new pair of high-end footwear.
We can hear the chorus of naysayers already: "every carbon road shoe is stiff!" Well, that's true to a certain extent – but some are more unyielding than others and these are particularly stout. While it's not a huge change relative to the average, it's noticeably so when cranking regardless, particularly at peak-load moments such as sprinting and climbing.
Credit goes to the twin reinforcing ribs and the highly shaped four bolt-specific cleat interface, both of which combine to give the Speedplay Carbon G.Chrono some additional structural reinforcement to go along with the full-length carbon plate's already-inherent stiffness. There's ample cleat adjustment built in as well with a generous 17mm of fore-aft range.
If these look stiff, that's because they are. There's a generous 17mm of fore-aft cleat adjustment range, too
Gaerne has paired that solid foundation to a well-shaped upper that's not only extremely secure but also very comfortable, even towards the end of a long day on the road – a combination we've sometimes found elusive in other Gaerne shoes we've tested in previous years.
The sleek synthetic material is a bit stiff at first, but it softens up nicely and yet retains its highly supportive feel. And despite there being fairly minimal padding in the tongue, the dual Boa closures distribute pressure evenly across the top of each foot so there isn't much needed, anyway. Add the burly molded plastic-and-carbon heel counter and we enjoyed a notably locked-down and efficient fit along with a nice, even, sock-like feel.
The dual boa closures distribute pressure evenly across the top of your feet. they're also easy to adjust on the fly and open wide
Breathability is very good, too, although – as we've often noticed with other shoes using similar patent leather-like synthetics – that doesn't come about from the material itself. Gaerne has thankfully riddled the uppers of the Speedplay G.Chrono shoes with holes and mesh inserts, and they do work. That said, we would still prefer something with a little more inherent ventilation in very hot weather.
Mind you, all of this still only comes with a quintessentially Italian cycling shoe shape that includes a dramatically tapered toe box and rather minimal arch support. Subbing in a different pair of insoles took care of the latter issue for us, but there will be no fixing the former if it's an issue for you. Nor are they particularly light, at 598g per pair for our size 43 samples.
The Gaerne Speedplay Carbon G.Chrono shoes are stiff and comfortable, and they look good too
So long as the Speedplay G.Chronos pass that personal fit test – and provided you can stomach the high cost – there's otherwise little to complain about here, and a lot to like.