The Crankbrothers Mallet Boa shoes are aimed at downhill and bike-park riding, but we've tested these and the enduro version of the shoe and we prefer this one with its large range of cleat positions.
The Mallet shoes from the new Crankbrothers line up are designed to match with the Mallet DH pedals, but obviously they work with any pedal or two-bolt cleat you like. They come with Crankbothers cleats and a spacer ready to ride though, in the assumption you're a pedal owner.
The upper is a sleek affair. These shoes shed mud well, and the lack of stitching detail allows them to scrub up well too. They also keep a whole lot of water out, without claiming to be waterproof.
The Boa dial works well with its thin wire lace and neat hidden eyelets. Like every Boa I've ever used, it's reliable, smooth to operate and distributes pressure well across the top of the foot. The closure finishes with a long Velcro strap securing the top of the foot.
If you're not bothered about having the Boa fastening, there are Speed Lace or (presumably slow) Lace versions for £150 and £130 respectively.
The tongue is quite noticeably cushioned, which works well against the wire laces of the Boa, though the combination of this and the upper is relatively warm – there's no discernible airflow though the shoes, either from the holes at the toes or the mesh sidewalls.
Even in early spring weather, I found them getting warm – it's the trade-off for their useful winter weatherproofness.
The sole is 'Match Compound' (MC1), and isn't so sticky that you can't get in and out of the shoes. It also seems quite rugged– the pins of my pedals are yet to tear the familiar half-circle indents in the rubber as I clip in and out.
On the matching Mallet pedals, the sole either side of the cleat is firmly in contact with the pedal cage and – if you leave the cleat spacer out – the front and rear is too. Clipping in and out remains easy, but not so easy you do it by accident.
The shank of the shoe is pretty stiff, allowing good power transfer as well as support. The upper and footbed provides good cushioning though, making these shoes stiff as well as all-day comfortable, both on and off the bike.
You won't want to be walking far off road in them though, nonethless. While the tread pattern works as well with my Mallet DH and Mallet E pedals as you'd hope, it's not the best tread for walking. It's not as a slippery as, say, walking in a set of flat Five Tens, but Mallets offer only mediocre traction in this department.
These soles (that's them on the right, above) get a ramped cleat box featuring a 'Race Zone,' which the Mallet E (as in Enduro) version lacks. That's the Mallet E on the left.
This 'Race Zone' allows the cleat to slide a little further rearwards, and I for one prefer the position it gives when descending – it lets you get the cleat to the back of the ball of your foot, which is best for weight and pressure distribution. The Mallet Boas beat the Mallet Es here.
The Mallet shoes are comfortable, usefully weatherproof, robust and stiff enough for efficient pedalling. If £170 is too much, take a look at the laced versions – you get all the same benefits except the admittedly very effective Boa dial here.
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