Quoc’s Gran Tourer II gravel shoe offers a single cable dial fastening system, a slim fitting microfibre wipe clean upper bonded to a stiff midsole and finished off with a grippy lugged outsole. The Internal lining has been slimmed down to allow them to dry much faster than their predecessors but some quality concerns prevent the shoe from scoring better.
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Quoc has ditched the laces of its excellent original Gran Tourer (GT) shoe and opted rather for a contemporary closure system with a single dial doing all the work. Quoc in-house-developed system represents a complete re-design and allows for incremental adjustments to be made by winding the dial (different direction on each shoe) to tighten the cable and hold your foot in place. To release, you simply turn the dial slightly in the reverse direction and pull either the top of the tongue, the uppermost nylon strands or flex your foot to release the tension.
The Gran Tourer II’s (GT II from now on) arrived during a prolonged period of cold and wet weather and I was extremely grateful for the thick socks Quoc sent me with the shoes as otherwise, my feet might have turned to ice - winter shoes they are not. Since the temps have warmed up I’ve been out in everything: rain so hard it bounced up off the trail and hot and dusty gravel washboard tracks and pretty much everything you would expect in April to May.
I tested the size 45 or UK 11 which, on paper, should be too big but going by the recommended cm measurement guide, they’ve turned out just right with both the Merino socks and summer skinny ones I’ve finally been able to use.
The GT II's new slimmer padding inside (The lace GT now have this as well) has paid dividends in the April showers as they dry much quicker than the originals and are good to go the next morning (stuff them with loose newspaper if they are saturated). That’s a big improvement and offers the bikepacker a more comfortable shoe on multiday trips in changeable weather.
The rear of both shoes feature reflective details for night-time safety which is helpful when rides turn out longer than expected.
They are also slightly ‘waterproof’ as long as you keep the water below the colour change line above the gum sole which is great for standing around in wet fields drinking coffee and getting ready for the next day’s ride. Just don’t expect to them to stay dry if you go paddling. They have lots of ventilation holes above that line, and although they say they are one-way, I’m not convinced they are watertight. So far I’ve not been able to test those air holes in any sweltering heat - the best the UK has offered so far is about 22˚C, which is hardly a heat test. I’ll update this as and when summer arrives.
The GT IIs feel stiffer than their forebear, partly due to the original GT shoes going a little soft perhaps, but Quoc has also opted for a stiffer, racier midsole in the GT II and it really does feel good when you turn up the gas. Pushing hard on the pedals rewards you with an increased feeling of power transfer and acceleration, which is especially welcomed for those who like their gravel fast or just like blasting around the lanes.
The converse of this increased stiffness could be an unpleasantly hard feel in hike-a-bike scenarios or just laughing around with your mates but, while they are not quite as supremely comfortable as the GTs, they are perfectly comfy to hang out in. Quoc has achieved a very good balancing act here.
The gum-coloured outsole contrasts the charcoal, microfibre upper quite nicely and the design is unique to Quoc. It grips well no matter the surface, including the treacherous section of slippery stone slabs outside my garage that have caught many other shoes out.
The sole shows little sign of damage so far with no chunks missing but I’ve not tested them on a prolonged hike-a-bike trip yet. For everything else they have been spot on, even walking around town when I’ve forgotten my office footwear. While they look a little geekier than the lace-up versions with the rotary dial (to my eye), the Black Gum colourway is by far the more incognito option when compared to the other combinations such as Sand, Pink and Black.
The cleat box is wide and quite deep at about 7.5mm meaning I needed to use the full-fat spacer with my Hope cleats to get them in the correct position. Crankbrothers also offer spacers for its cleats and I’ve used the brand's sole saver for Time cleats as well on these shoes. For me, the cleat position guide is spot on and I was nowhere near the extremes of adjustment offered by the shoe so I think most people will be happy here. Clipping in and out on either my Time or Hope pedals has been absolutely issue-free without interference or hunting for the cleat and they release just as easily.
There are no stud attachment points but these are not aimed at XC or CX racing but rather fast gravel riding and bikepacking and they've have not left me stranded anywhere yet. The single-dial retention system has a lot of work to do when fastening as it needs to pull evenly from the bottom of the foot to the top so that pressure spots are avoided. I found that it can take three adjustments to get just right. The initial one when sitting down, then one or two more once standing and moving to get the right amount of tension on the foot. It’s a complicated bit of design to get all the locations and angles correct for the cable to run smoothly and it works, most of the time. However, it doesn’t always want to release as easily as intended and you need to tug on the tongue or give the nylon cable a strong pull to get it going. I think a two-dial design, so less cord pulled by each, like the new Mono II, might work better. Maybe that’s for the next version.
The original GT shoes are slightly lighter than the new version if that is important to you but really not worth worrying about. On my Park scales, the original and new version weighed in at a respective 365g and 399g - which might have something to do with the stiffer sole than anything else. By the way, those weights are for a size 45 which comes in under what Quoc claims for the 43, so not bad at all.
It has also come down in price this season and is now £190 which, while still pretty expensive, makes them more competitive under that £200 ceiling. The Quoc Gran Tourer II delivers comfort and power transfer in equal measures. The sole stiffness feels comfortable on 4-5 hour rides and responds when you turn up the gas away from traffic lights or just against yourself and the gravel uphill.
In terms of its rivals, the Gran Tourer II finds itself in a very crowded space with many shoes around it offering different forms of closure, construction and pricepoints. DMT GK1 offers its one-piece knitted upper for £190, the Velcro-only Fizik Terra Powerstrap x4 comes in at £150, Shimano XC5 at £140 and the Giro Privateer Lace at £130. Above £190 threshold, Shimano offers the excellent and super-light RX8 for £220 while the super-expensive and racy Specialized S-Works Recon Lace comes in at a staggering £300. And then there is, of course, the original lace-up version still available for £170 which I wholeheartedly recommend.
But, and there is a big BUT, unfortunately. Both pairs of Gran Tourer IIs I've been testing have developed a fault inside their toe box. The inside bonded material has rucked up at the ends of the shoe causing some increased sock wear on top of your big toe and a rough feeling on the first pair which Quoc replaced as they would any consumer with this issue.
The second set has unfortunately now done the same. Actually, they are worse with the rough uneven ridges inside the rightside toe box making it uncomfortable to ride or walk in. Both shoes have not been damaged externally and the second set has probably not yet done 200-miles. It appears that this is a manufacturing fault so we have contacted Quoc to see if the company can shed any light on the issue.
Here's is Quoc's reply: "We really appreciate being made aware by Patrick of the issues he experienced with our new Gran Tourer II gravel shoe. We test our shoes extensively before they go into production and work closely with our manufacturing partners to ensure they produce our shoes to the high standards we set, and while occasional defects can happen or materialise over the course of riding, we are committed to investigating these with our partners - assessing the root cause and preventing outlying defects in future. Faults of this nature will absolutely be covered by warranty and replaced immediately free of charge as we are dedicated to ensuring we deliver the highest quality products to our customers".
It sounds like I have been extremely unlucky with the shoes from a bad batch. I have now sent my shoes back to be investigated and will update this review when I find out more from Quoc as to the nature of the issue. The important bit is that should you suffer the same issue, Quoc will immediately replace your shoes.
The Gran Tourer II offers smart, clean understated looks in black or brighter colour combinations if you like to get yourself noticed. The walking comfort is good and extra stiffness is immediately apparent on the bike when the pace picks up. The sole lasts well and they play nicely with both Hope and Time cleats and they are easy to keep clean as well as offer some protection from water from underneath. While the price has recently come down to £190, which is good news, the issues with the inside of the toe box make them difficult to recommend at the moment.
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