Gaerne’s shoes have been criticised by us in the past for their narrow forefoot ﬁt – a narrowness that put off some wider-footed riders from buying them.That issue is now being addressed and the 2011 G.Keira has a much broader forefoot ﬁt.
The upshot is that these take a lot less wearing-in from the box to feel like slippers; we were happy wearing them all day from the very beginning. Heel ﬁt is very good, and the heel cup is well shaped with a narrow Achilles’ notch to lock the foot in.
We still have minor quibbles with the weight of the shoes and their propensity to be hot in the summer and if soaked, slower than a synthetic leather shoe to dry. However, durability is excellent, with enhanced toe box protection and an overall feeling that your pinkies are safe, no matter what.
The mid-sole is made from nylon and is plenty stiff enough for all bar World Cup-level cross-country racers, and while the outsole material is softer than in previous years, it’s still not a friend to wet rocks. The outsole is grippy in the mud, aided if necessary by twin toe spikes.
Entry and exit from Shimano SPDs is a faultless experience. The G.Keiras are, based on the spec list alone, quite pricey, but that’s missing the point with Gaerne. It’s largely a qualitative feel that the shoes give off that turns ﬁrst-time users into committed Gaerne-a-philes.
The G-Aster at £110 is a cheaper model, though you can get the up-specced, and excellent, Shimano M230 for even less if you hunt about. We've been wearing Gaernes on and off for a decade and if you want handmade Italian quality we highly recommend that you try a pair. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.