Louis Garneau's new Course 2LS road shoes largely deliver on their heady promises. They're exceptionally comfortable, superbly ventilated, lightweight, stiff, and they even look good. Louis Garneau has unfortunately gotten the sole curvature wrong, though, so they disappoint in a crucial area.
- Pros: Great fit, supple upper materials, fantastic ventilation, stiff and light carbon fiber sole, excellent Boa reel system
- Cons: Incorrect sole curvature warps cleats
Fit-wise, Louis Garneau has nailed the bull's eye here, with an upper that's both very supportive and yet supremely comfortable after hours in the saddle. The supple mesh liner is backed by equally soft and pliable synthetic microfiber that wraps around your foot like a sock, with no hard edges inside or weird features in the perfectly middle-of-the-road last.
Louis Garneau builds some arch support into the carbon fiber sole plate, too, but it's a modest amount so there's plenty of room for adjustment for riders with particularly tall or flat arches. Add in the highly adjustable double Boa reels, the well-shaped heel cup and the dense padding in the tongue, and what's left is a notably luxurious feel, even when wearing paper-thin socks.
Ventilation is outstanding, with lots of open steel mesh around the toe box and tongue to help bring in air up top, and scooped ports in the sole that really do cool the bottoms of your feet. With the perforated summer insoles installed, we could actually feel the breeze coming up beneath our toes, leaving our feet impressively comfortable and dry even on days with temperatures topping 38°C (100°F) and heaps of baking sun reflecting off of the pavement.
Louis Garneau includes two sets of insoles: a perforated set for use in hot weather and a non-perforated set for when you want to block air from coming in through the sole ports
Swapping in the non-perforated winter insoles (both are included) noticeably decreases the airflow but given the mesh up top, those footbeds should really only be considered for just slightly cool spring or fall days if you don't plan on donning covers.
As expected given the full-length carbon fiber sole plate, the Course 2LSs are admirably stiff and light, at just 539g for our size 43.5 test pair (with insoles). Unlike some uber-stiff carbon shoes, there's still just a bit of noticeable give when you're really pushing hard, which should appeal to long-distance riders who don't like the feel of I-beams strapped to their feet but is something to keep in mind for riders who prioritize efficiency above all else. Reasonably generous tread at either end provides decent security when walking on hard surfaces and the heel blocks are easily replaceable when needed.
All of this praise would otherwise result in a stellar overall rating but for one critical failing. Unfortunately, something seems to have gone amiss in either the design or production of the sole plate. Instead of being perfectly flat from left to right, the cleat interface has a slight twist to it, which warps the cleats when the screws are tightened down.
Oops. The misshapen cleat interface on the Louis Garneau Course 2LS shoes yields warped cleats when the bolts are tightened down
In most situations the cleat will still lock into the pedal, though it negatively affects float on Look KéO and Shimano SPD-SL platforms. It's a bigger issue with Speedplay pedals, though, as those have more stringent requirements for shoe flatness for proper engagement. We ended up rigging up a rather clumsy shim setup – not exactly what you want in a pair of shoes costing US$360.
Just to be sure, we contacted Louis Garneau's PR and marketing coordinator Heidi Myers about the problem, who said other shoes were checked in-house with no alignment issues noted. "We checked and couldn’t see the issue," she said. "We’ve used this sole for five years without complaint."
Myers sent us an image with Shimano SPD-SL cleats mounted on two different shoes to bolster the company's position – one bolted on to a Course 2LS shoe and the other on a Specialized S-Works model. However, our eyes still see the same cleat twist on the Louis Garneau shoe as on our test sample, albeit not quite as extreme.
Louis Garneau provided this image to reinforce its position that there's no problem with the sole curvature. While not as extreme as on our sample, we still see some cleat twist on the left shoe
Look past the sole curvature problem and Louis Garneau has a stellar shoe here. However, it's such a fundamental issue that it's impossible to ignore, especially for a flagship product like this.