Even Decathlon can’t deliver a carbon-soled shoe for £70 but the stiff nylon sole of the 520 is the next best thing when it comes to putting maximum pressure through the pedal.
The inner is well shaped for support without being too prescriptive for neutral feet and the heel cup is stiff enough to stop lift without nagging your Achilles. The upper is well shaped too and the two diagonal Velcro straps and twin position ratchet buckle lock it down race-tight without obvious pressure points under the padded tongue.
Overall that gives a supportive and stiff enough fit that when we were testing it as half a pair with our benchmark £120 XC/trail shoe, we had to take our overshoes off to remind ourselves which was which after a couple of hours.
While it’s not exactly sticky and grippy, the big sole lugs are far less plasticky and treacherous than most budget shoes. There are threads for toe stud mounts and plenty of edge grip for stamping up side slopes.
Textured rubber protects the toe box and while their low profile means they dodge most damage the ratchet strap and buckle are replaceable.
With just two small strips of mesh in the synthetic leather upper they’re relatively weatherproof and easy to make splashproof with some accurately placed gaffer tape, although the soft padded insole is best fished out for fast drying.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.