The Mavic XA Elite II shoe is an excellent benchmark for all trail shoes to follow. They’re comfortable, great to walk in, and easy to do up – although they’re quite bendy, and the colour scheme is a little questionable.
On the XA Elite II, you get Mavic’s Ortholite insole, Energy Grip Trail outsole, and the Contragrip tread. There’s a molded toecap for protection and a strap paired with a Quick Lace closure.
The tongue is secured by elastic straps inside the shoe and it wraps around the foot, which is extra comfortable. It also helps keep dirt out, while the tongue also has a little pocket to stuff any excess lace into – a really nice touch if you ask me.
Another nice touch is the cleat box cover, which allows you to use these on both clipless and flat pedals.
Speaking of the cleat boxes, these extend pretty far back, which I was impressed to see. My ideal cleat position is a little further back than many SPD shoes offer, and it's always great to have proper adjustability.
One small but a surprisingly nice point is how easy these are to put on. The elasticated tongue stretches wide and, while the lace/strap closure is a common design, Mavic has bested most by adding a pocket for lace ends. It's a neat, flap-free result.
On the dowside, the strap can contact the front of your ankle, which – while it never caused me any pain – is noticeable enough to cause discomfort.
The XA Elite IIs are super comfortable thanks to the memory foam-like Ortholite insole. They provide a welcome squish that doesn’t interfere too much with pedaling.
However, the shoe is quite flexy anyway, so it's not the most efficient. It’s possible the feel the pedal through the shoe as the sole flexes around it, and this can strain the foot after a while into a ride.
Off the bike, as a result, they’re really nice to walk in. The shoe flexes in just the right places to make them feel like your favourite pair of trainers, and the widely spaced tread offers plenty of grip on soft or hard terrain.
As a summer shoe they’re good and airy, but shrug of river-crossing splashes impressively well. They could be excellent shoes for most of the year, but inevitably proper wet conditions will defeat them easily.
The Mavic XA Elite II is a great shoe. It’s seriously comfortable, easy to put on and remove, and provides just enough protection without getting too heavy. If you don't mind trading the excellent comfort for some efficiency on the pedals, it's an excellent trail choice for much of the year.
You might also like: