Louis Garneau Pro Race road shoes £179

Very comfortable shoes with highly adjustable upper strap

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The Pro Race is Louis Garneau's second-tier road shoe, its most notable feature being the large amount of side-to-side and fore/aft adjustment in the top strap. With a very thin (4.3mm) and generously vented carbon sole, the Pro Race shoes come with two sets of insoles for hot and cooler riding conditions.

Overall, we found that the shoes hit that sweet spot of snug and comfortable; there is no pressure at the top of the tongue, instead, the padded upper sides of the shoes take most of the load. Our tester didn't need to fine tune the top strap, so the additional adjustment features seemed like overkill, but if you have very big or very small feet, they could be quite welcome.

  • Highs: Comfortable fit with unique adjustment; absence of pressure at the top of the tongue; venting; two sets of insoles for weather adjustment
  • Lows: Heavier than other shoes at the price; additional adjustment features probably add unnecessary complexity for most riders 

The arch support strap has three unique features: a thin velcro strap adjusts where the padded center of the strap hits the foot, two micro-adjust release buttons fine tune fit on the main ratcheting strap, and the fore/aft anchor can be moved by about 1.5cm. The thin, underlying velcro can effectively move the strap about an inch left or right to align the padded center of the top strap. Pressing both micro-adjust release buttons releases the strap completely; pressing one then the other lets out one click worth of strap — but you have to alternate between the two to do so.

Our size 45 test shoes offered a plush, comfortable fit, most notably across the top of the foot. The padding on the tongue stops about an inch from the opening, and the padded portions of the shoe are about an inch apart underneath the padded strap. Bridging the arch is the top strap, which is padded at this junction but doesn't directly contact the top of the foot until the ankle is at an acute angle. The end result is a plenty of room for the top of the foot to move through the pedaling motion, even with the shoe cinched down tight.

Further down into the shoe, the tongue is pretty heavily (5mm) padded but with vented holes, so it never felt hot.

The two sets of insoles offer modest arch support. The blue 'cool stuff' insoles feature a honeycomb pattern underneath for maximum breathability, while the red 'hot stuff' insoles are designed to retain heat. Both have an antibacterial treatment.

The other two securing straps are offset at slightly rear-facing angles. Combined with the rigid heel cup and internal shaping, the heel is held snugly – but comfortably – in place.

Two vent panels atop the toe box let some air in, but this is only really noticeable while coasting if you point the shoes toe-down. On the outsole, there are two small vents underneath the toe box and one long vent in front of the heel. Coasting with the heel down, you can definitely feel air flowing in when using the ‘cool stuff’ insole with its airy honeycomb structure.

The sole has a generous 7mm of fore/aft cleat adjustment, a trend we welcome over fixed placement of cleat bolts in road shoes.

The heel pad you walk on is replaceable, and the back of the heel has reflective elements for safety.

With the added adjustment features comes more weight and more cost. We weighed a single 45 Pro Race at 305g. At US$275 for the pair, compare this to Shimano's US$200 R170, which we weighed at 295g for a single shoe. Or compare it to Louis Garneau's US$199 shoe, the 235g (claimed, size 38) Carbon LS-100.

Bottom line: If you struggle to find a shoe that fits well at the opening, the Pro Race could be an excellent solution. Anyone else may want to look elsewhere — even within Louis Garneau's line.

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