Crankbrothers unveils all-new Mallet, Mallet E and Stamp MTB shoes

The US components brand aims to create the ultimate shoe connection for mountain bikers

Crankbrothers Shoes

Getting the right shoe/pedal combo isn’t an easy task, especially when you consider how many potential options are currently on the market. Even when you settle on a pair, they might still require some subtle ‘altering’ to get them just right – we’ve all lengthened cleat slots or trimmed shoe outsoles for better pedal compatibility in the past. It’s not ideal, more of a necessary evil.

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But Crankbrothers is keen to eradicate these sorts of problems and has spent the past few years developing its new shoe line-up to do exactly that, with help from Fizik Research and Development designer Anthony Hope and rubber expert Vanni Scapin.

Each shoe is named after the pedal it is intended to be used with – Mallet, Mallet E and Stamp – which should hopefully mean no more dremmelling or hacking away with a Stanley knife. They’ll work with any pedal out there, though.

Three things you need to know about the Crankbrothers’ new shoes

  1. There are three different models available, named after the pedals that best reflect their intentions: Mallet, Mallet E and the Stamp
  2. Crankbrothers offers each of the three models with three different closure systems – Boa dial and strap, SpeedLace and strap or regular laces – which vary in price
  3. The Stamp shoes start at £114.99 (lace) and go all the way up to £164.99 (Boa), while both the Mallet and Mallet E range from £129.99 (lace) to £179.99 (Boa)

Matching intentions

These new shoes are named after some of Crankbrothers’ key pedal models and are designed to reflect the intentions of them perfectly. For those not completely au fait with its pedal range, the Mallet is designed for downhill riding and racing, the Mallet E is designed for trail riding and enduro racing, while the Stamp is Crank’s flat-pedal offering.

At the heart of the shoes’ design is the brand’s ‘MATCH system’, which Crankbrothers says: “considers the pedal and shoe as a unified system to provide optimal interface”.

In basic terms, it wants to simplify setup as much as possible. That means no more experimentation or guess work when adding/removing spacers under your cleats (no matter whether you’re on Shimano SPDs, Crankbrothers pedals or any other pedal system) and limited effort when it comes to pedal adjustments too.

For example, Crankbrothers says, with confidence, that if you want to use its shoes with Shimano pedals, the cleat can be mounted directly to the shoes without a spacer. Fitting a Crankbrothers cleat requires a ‘Match Shim’ underneath to work as effectively as possible.

Tried and tested

Crankbrothers took its time (four years in all) to bring these shoes to market and assured us they’d properly been through the wringer when it came to testing. While some of this took place in the lab, to at least get the rubber compounds right, much of it was down to real-world testing.

If you’ve a keen eye and enjoy watching World Cup downhill racing, you may well have spotted Luca Shaw (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Bernard Kerr (Pivot Factory Racing) sporting these shoes with a question mark emblazoned on the heel.

And, while feedback from elite athletes is all well and good, Crankbrothers also gathered a lot of feedback from everyday riders and racers in a variety of climates to see how they held up over time – having learned from reliability issues with some of its older components in the past.

After settling on the two different rubber compounds and finalising the design of the upper (which is similar across the three shoes), here’s the finished product…

Crankbrothers shoe range

Crankbrothers Mallet

The Mallet is designed to be the more gravity-orientated shoe of the two clipless offerings and matches up with Crankbrothers’, you guessed it, Mallet DH pedals, but will work with other brand’s pedals, too.

The almost rubberised upper is malleable and features perforations and mesh windows in strategic places to help keep your feet from overheating. As we’ve already mentioned, Crankbrothers is offering the choice of three different closures: Boa dial and strap; SpeedLace and strap; or regular laces. So there should be something to fit your preference and bank balance.

There’s a decent amount of ankle padding to keep things comfy, though not so much that they’ll feel waterlogged when worn in the rain. Crankbrothers has bolstered at-risk areas with additional TPU material to boost protection over the toes and around the heel.

The Mallets and Mallet Es feature Crankbrothers’ ‘MATCH Outsole’, which uses its MC1 rubber compound (mid-friction, fast rebound). They also feature a ramped cleat box to make clipping in and out easier, radial tread pattern to help reduce friction when clipping in or out, as well as enough stiffness through the shank to deliver good power transfer.

The angled toe and heel treads are directional and spaced out for better mud clearance to help with walking up or down hill.

In order to make them better suited to downhill and enduro riding and racing, the Mallets are the only shoe being launched to include the ‘MATCH Box Race Zone’ – a dedicated, additional 5mm of rearward cleat adjustment, which Crankbrothers considers the ultimate position for bike handling control.

While this may make the Mallets a little less efficient when pedalling, it’s nice to have the option and adjustment on offer, but it’s also a little puzzling as to why the brand thinks this isn’t required on the Mallet E shoe. We’d certainly like to see it on both clipless offerings.

Other neat features include silicone dots on the inside of the heel cup to better grip onto socks and reduce heel lift, as well as hidden lace eyelets that not only add to the already clean look but are also said to improve durability.

Finally, the padded tongue has a handy little lace pocket at the top so you can stuff loose lace ends out of the way.

Our Mallet Boa sample weighs 1,140g (size 42).

  • Mallet Boa: £179.99 (one colour option)
  • Mallet SpeedLace: £149.99 (one colour option)
  • Mallet Lace: £129.99 (two colour options)

Crankbrothers cleats are included and pre-installed in the ‘neutral’ position.

Crankbrothers Mallet E

The Mallet E is aimed at trail riders and enduro racers. Compared to the Mallet, the Mallet E uses a stiffer shank for more efficient power transfer, but, sadly, the Mallet E doesn’t get the extended ‘Race Zone’ cleat slot extensions, which seems a real shame.

The upper is almost identical to that of the Mallet and comes with all the same features, but doesn’t get the extended ‘Race Zone’ cleat slots. While the outsole uses the same MC1 rubber, both the toe and heel treads are deeper for improved traction off the bike.

Our Mallet E SpeedLace shoes weigh 1,020g (size 42).

  • Mallet E Boa: £179.99 (one colour option)
  • Mallet E SpeedLace: £149.99 (two colour options)
  • Mallet E Lace: £129.99 (one colour option)

Crankbrothers cleats are included and pre-installed in the ‘neutral’ position.

Crankbrothers Stamp

Crankbrothers' Stamp mountain bike shoe with a MC2 rubber compound outsole
The flat pedal Stamps use Crankbrothers’ MC2 rubber compound for the outsole, which is said to be high friction with a slow rebound, to better absorb pedal pins and dampen vibration through the feet.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Arguably the hardest of the shoes to get right has to be its flat pedal offering, the Stamp. While the Stamp’s upper more or less mirrors that used on the Mallet and Mallet E’s, the outsole is, as you’d expect, entirely different.

Potentially the most important part of the shoe is the rubber compound used on the MATCH Outsole. The MC2 rubber blend that Crankbrothers settled on is said to be very close in terms of grip to that of market leaders Five Ten, but far more durable.

While it offers a lot of friction, it’s also slow to rebound, and Crankbrothers says this offers better pin absorption and vibration dampening.

The ‘On pedal area’ is designed to create a tread pattern for maximum contact surface with the pedal and Crankbrothers says every tread lug depth has been optimised to better absorb the pins for secure connection. The lugs have also had their edges rounded off to help improve durability.

Like the Mallet and Mallet E, the Stamps also feature directional, angled toe and heel treads for claimed better off the bike grip up or down hill.

Our Stamp Lace samples weigh 920g (size 42).

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  • Stamp Boa: £164.99 (one colour option)
  • Stamp SpeedLace: £134.99 (two colour options)
  • Stamp Lace: £114.99 (four colour options)