After adding the Mallet shoe to their line-up, American brand Crankbrothers now offer a complete pedal/cleat/shoe system. We tested the BOA version of the shoe, which wraps around your foot with a simple twist of the hand. But are Crankbrothers race and gravity-oriented shoes still comfortable on long rides and is it still worth buying them even if you’re not racing? Here are our impressions after using the shoes for six months:
The Mallet shoe was developed for racers and bike park rats and is available in two versions. You can choose between a standard laced-up model and a more sophisticated version with a BOA closure system. The BOA model in this test retails at € 199,99 and makes a very high-quality impression. The Mallet has a very comfortable fit and sits like a glove on the slightly wider feet of our tester Jonas. The shoes weigh 424 g in size EU 42 and come as standard with pre-installed Crankbrothers cleats. If you use their pedals already, you can take the shoes out of the box, put them on and head straight to the trails! Of course, you can also use conventional SPD cleats for Shimano pedals. The long and deep Matchbox ensures a wide cleat adjustment range and makes it easier to click in and out of the pedal and together with the grippy sole and clever mix of materials, you won’t even notice the cleats when walking. The foot roll behaviour is surprisingly good for a clipless shoe and the deep Matchbox prevents the cleat from scratching the floor. Particularly striking is the BOA fit system, which allows you to tie and untie the shoe within a few seconds. For those who don’t know how it works, the Boa system is pretty much a tension belt. A thin nylon string replaces a classic shoelace and pulls the shoe’s upper closer to your foot. The string is attached to a micro-adjustable dial that allows for quick and even tightening of the shoe. To open the shoes, you just have to pull the dial to release the string. The BOA closure system is complemented by a Velcro strap on the top edge of the uppers, ensuring an even fit at the twist of the hand.
While at first glance, the padding of the Mallet looks very chunky, this has been designed consistently down to the last detail to provide the best possible compromise between wearing comfort and foot sensitivity. The generous cushioning on the tongue and uppers provides a high level of comfort while the stiff midsole around the cleat area ensures a defined riding experience. Awesome! Even on very long days in the saddle, we were impressed with the fit of the Mallet shoes. Crankbrothers also managed to strike a good compromise between insulation and ventilation. Throughout the testing period, Jonas enjoyed a very pleasant foot climate, from chilly single-digit temperatures all the way up to 20° C, but started sweating a little with warmer temperatures above the 25°C mark. While the Mallet Boa isn’t a thoroughbred bad-weather shoe, it can handle a fair amount of spray and water splash. On very wet days, we recommend wearing waterproof socks. Even after almost six months, our Mallet shoes look pretty good, except for the toe box which has taken a beating to protect Jonas’ feet against rocks and nasty roots – and it did a great job! Given the amount of abuse our shoes have taken over the past 6 months, the soles still look pretty fresh and only have minor signs of wear.
- comfortable all day long
- easy, fast and even lacing
- · high-quality workmanship
- high quality, simple look
- quite warm in summer
- not for bad weather rides
While the Mallet were originally designed for racers and bike park rats, they’re still very comfortable on long rides. The BOA system allows you to open and close the shoes with the twist of the hand and provides a firm and comfortable fit. Moreover, the well-thought-out shoe/pedal/cleat concept is simply ingenious! Other clever and well-designed features like the sturdy toe box, the generously-sized Matchbox and balanced padding round off the overall great impression.
Test duration: 6 months
Price: € 199.99
Weight: 424 g (EU 42)
More information: crankbrothers.com
Words & Photos: Jonas Müssig