Designed as the perfect match for Crankbrother’s Mallet E clipless pedals, the Mallet E Lace shoes are great for a range of riding styles. They do a lot of things well, including ventlation and weather resistance but the biggest selling point is the comfort they offer for all types of riding including trail, enduro or gravity. That said, it would be great to see longer cleat tracks though.
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Crankbrothers says that the Mallet E shoes excel in enduro races or all-day adventures so it gets a carbon-injected nylon shank for pedaling efficiency among an abundance of other cool features such as a ramped Match cleat box to aid pedal entry but also to help shed mud more effectively.
Crankbrothers Mallet E Lace shoes - Technical details
The Mallet E utilises Crankbrothers' mid-friction rubber compound, dubbed MC1, that also aids pedal entry while remaining durable for added longevity. The radial lug pattern is then shaped to offer easy pedal release.
The Match outsole is designed for traction off of the bike and is built with directionally angled lugs at the heel and toe.
Crankbrothers has fitted this model of the Mallet E with a lace closure system paired with a handle pocket built onto the padded tongue to tuck the laces away. The laces thread through hidden eyelets for both a clean look and safety measure.
The shoe’s upper gets TPU-reinforced areas for both protection and abrasion resistance and there are ventilated windows for ventilation. Inside of the shoe at the heel, there are heel dots that have been placed to help the shoe hold onto the heel. There’s also a cushioned EVA midsole that helps absorb shock.
While this shoe is designed to work with Crankbrothers’ range of pedals, the shoe can work with any SPD cleat. However, if you are a fan of Crankbrothers’ pedals, a pair of cleats are included in the box.
Per shoe, the Mallet E Lace weighs 457g. Given the generous padding around the ankle and tongue, that's nothing to complain about.
Crankbrothers Mallet E Lace shoes - Performance
The fit is admittedly on the snug side but it's nothing too alarming. In fact, the snug fit helps keep the shoe in place.
Stepping into the Mallet E Lace and the shoe hugs the foot with well-placed padding around the ankle and with thanks to that squishy EVA midsole.
Even though this shoe doesn’t use any kind of Velcro strap to help with stability and retention, it’s surprisingly secure on the foot, again thanks to that padding and heel dots. The shoe can loosen over time if you pull up on the pedals a lot, but it's rarely a problem.
The correct rubber and diligent design in the cleat box make for an even greater shoe. Clipping in is quick and simple, and the cleat box sheds mud as well as its rivals. The rubber helps with the engagement with the pedal. I’ve run this shoe with the Crankbrothers Mallet Trail and the Hope Union TC pedals, both of which have good platform bodies. Support is huge, and the pedal pins sink into the rubber which provides good traction or surface resistance. It's great.
The shoe’s efficiency is great, and ideal for a trail/enduro-style platform. It’s not the most efficient shoe in the world but these are not XC-orientated kicks. Look elsewhere if that's the case
As for breathability and weather protection, the Mallet E Lace is good. The brand has built the shoe with a semi-welded upper construction, which does a great job of keeping spray and wetness out, while the padded tongue and side windows encourage a useful level of breathability. However, these are two areas that can let water through and, when riding through particularly wet sections, that’s definitely the case. But to be fair, that’s expected.
In terms of durability, it can handle abuse. I've had a few crashes using the Mallet E Lace shoes and they have held up well, suffering only a broken lace and eyelet from sliding across the gravel. Elsewhere, the shoe is still looking pretty fresh. Though, the slight damage does provide a good argument for spending a little more and upgrading to the Mallet E Speedlace.
So for the most part, it’s tough to fault but if I were to nitpick, a longer cleat channel would be appreciated for better fore-aft adjustment. Generally, I’ve been happy and comfortable riding with my cleats positioned as far back as possible in the platform channel.
Crankbrothers Mallet E Lace shoes - Verdict
In this particular Timberland-esque colour, the Mallet E Lace is a little more expensive than the base black model. At £145, they're a little on the pricier side when compared to other clipless shoes on the market but not the most expensive.
The Bontrager Rally is a cracking shoe but it’ll set you back £160. It gets a Velcro strap which helps with security and a better sealed upper, but breathability isn’t quite on par, and neither is comfort.
A comparable shoe in terms of performance and one I’ve tested alongside the Mallet E Lace is Fox’s Union Clip. However, like the Bontrager Rally, you’ll have to shell out £160. Doing so will get you more cleat adjustability but the shoe isn’t quite as breathable or as comfy.
But a big addition to this shoe's value is the inclusion of a pair of Crankbrothers cleats. Of course, this is only a benefit if you run the brand's pedals but it's a £27 saving, which is reasonable considering the price of the shoe.
All in all, the Crankbrothers Mallet E Lace is a cracking shoe for the cash, especially if you prioritise comfort over anything else. The ventilation properties, pedal feel and weather protection are all respectable aspects of this shoe. It looks great, too.