Giro Ventana Shoe Three-Month Review
Giro's shoes have gone through a bit of a transformation over the past few years. They were one of the first brands to use laces for their shoes due to their adjustability and low weight. Eventually, they moved to Techlace, which mixed laces and Velcro straps to ensure low weight but make their shoes more adjustable. Most recently, Giro have moved to Boa dials, which are widely-adopted for their simplicity, durability, and low weight. Their latest shoe, the Giro Ventana (and Giro Ventana Women's), is perhaps their best MTB shoe yet, thanks in part largely to its simplicity. Details
A first glance at these indicates that Ventana might not have the exotic materials of a racier shoe, but that's exactly what Giro wanted. The Ventana uses what Giro calls their Sensor rubber. It has proven to be sticky enough to ride on flat pedals without issue, but also scramble over rocks without much trepidation. This is paired to a two-bolt SPD cleat placed farther back and more inboard than most other MTB shoes. The idea is that placing it farther back gets you a bit more centered on the pedals for greater control through rough terrain, and the inboard cleat placement is to avoid heelstrike on wide chainstays. Moving up the shoe is a nylon shank that in our experience is stiff enough for a long ride, but with just enough give that you can walk around without much issue. This is paired to a molded EVA footbed and standard insole, and up top is a Synchwire upper, and a bonded mesh that leaves the shoe to be plenty breathable, and reinforced heel and rubber sections.
At the top is a BOA L6 dial with a 1 mm ratchet. Fine-tuning adjustment is really nice, and the soft lace guides allow the shoe to mold to the top of the foot better than most plastic lace guides. Again, this leads to a comfy fit that avoids the pressure hot spots that some BOA setups might have. Obviously it would be rad to have a BOA dial that ratchets both ways to both tighten and loosen, but it isn't a dealbreaker. Feel
The Ventana shoe fits a bit different than what we are accustomed to with Giro. The Ventana isn't necessarily a performance-oriented shoe like the Giro Empire, but it isn't big and bulky like the Giro Chamber flat pedal shoe. Part of that is the overall width of the Ventana. The shoe belongs to their Trail/AM-line of shoes giving the toe box area more room, ideal for longer days in the saddle. Some will have to size down on this shoe compared to what people may have used in the past.
Basically, Giro has made a shoe that is more comfortable for a wider range of people than before, with grippy rubber, high adjustability, and durable materials. The Synchwire upper is light but doesn't have the problems of clogging with dirt that a normal mesh panel or material might have. We also dig seamless construction, as that means there are fewer ways that this shoe can come apart. The Giro Ventana shoe is an interesting proposition. The shoe looks casual enough that it fits in paired to a T-shirt and shorts, but it is more than up to the needs of a vast majority of cyclists. It could be lighter, or stiffer, or have more features, but that risks dropping the hard-earned simplicity that makes the Ventana such a usable shoe. Make it your gravel shoe, your MTB shoe, even your day-to-day cycling shoe. It'll do it without fuss.
In a world that has defined cycling shoes as 'road' shoes or 'mountain' shoes, the Ventana seems to defy convention. It might not be the right shoe for those looking for a traditional XC/Race MTB shoe, nor is it for someone looking for the lightest shoe around. But for those whose sole (HA!) is getting out on a reliable shoe that isn't out of place regardless of where it finds itself on the dirt, the Ventana looks to be a great choice.
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