Vaude Downieville Mid shoes
These trail shoes fit well and combine good pedalling stiffness with plenty of flex at the toe to help on rough scrambles.
The fit is excellent, with the lace closure giving plenty of adjustability and even tension over the foot. There’s a Velcro strap over the lace, which helps prevent heel lift – aided by a well-formed heel box – and isn’t so close to the front of the ankle as to cause discomfort.
The lace cover adds a touch of splash protection, but limits ventilation. Inside there’s arch support and a roomy toe box, which is reinforced at the front.
The mid-top design adds a little extra security and prevents ankle scuffs on the cranks, but I’d like to see more protection for the outer edge of the foot.
Sole stiffness is decent, and there’s flex in the toe to help with hike-a-bike sections. This is further helped by an aggressive, grippy tread, constructed from a fairly soft rubber.
The cleat sits a touch proud of the cleat pocket, so the shoe doesn’t always feel totally connected to the pedal, but it can be located fairly far back, which I consider a bonus.
The £140 / $165 / AU$251 price tag lands these shoes at the pricier end the market and may put some off.