Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Uncle Larry's Favorite Road Cycling Shoe


Uncle Larry's worn Vittoria cycling shoes for more than two decades. Before this he got free shoes from other sponsors, but he eventually decided to just BUY some good, Italian shoes. Italian shoes have always had a reputation for high-quality and Vittoria is no exception. Of course feet are different and these might not fit you as well as another brand but the fit was the deciding factor all those years ago.

At first, we had road and MTB shoes but gradually stopped bothering with "road" shoes as we phased out other pedal systems in favor of the SPD style with a simple, recessed, two-bolt cleat. No more slipping and sliding on plastic or metal bits contacting the ground, we want secure, rubber grip!

Then we met the Celestino Vercelli family through our friend "Chairman Bill" who used to own Torelli Imports. How fortunate to meet people who make something you already like enough to pay for and then have them become official suppliers!

MTB shoes are kind of overkill with their rugged, lugged soles, but up 'till now there were not many alternatives. When Vittoria introduced their highly-successful "1976" line of  vintage style lace-up shoes, the sole they chose was very interesting. We got some of those right away for our bici d'epoca adventures. Warning: If you worship at the altar of "stiffer is always better" you can stop reading now. This shoe/sole is not for you, though Vittoria does offer full-carbon sole shoes for those who prefer them. We don't.

The 1976 shoe fit and felt like a slipper! Super comfortable but while the lace-up, old time style looked great with our epoca bikes, Larry had doubts about using them with a SPD cleat bolted on, something we skip with our epoca bikes with their old-time clip-and-strap pedals.

Someone at Vittoria must have read his mind because this new shoe was shown at Interbike 2016. That same great sole with a stronger, higher-tech upper. Larry found the stiffness of the 1976 sole just fine and now he had a shoe perfect for riding his own modern bikes with SPD road pedals!

You can see this is a simple, nylon sole with rubber tread and a recess for the cleat (or you can skip the cleat and attach the included plugs, as Larry's done with his 1976 shoes) so they're almost like sneakers off the bike, but have all the performance Larry needs on the bike. Just as with bike frames and wheels, stiffness is over-rated and there can be too much of a good thing when your feet begin to ache from shoes (or frames, wheels) that are too stiff and unyielding.

Vittoria's taken care of Larry's shoe needs for years but Edoardo Vercelli had a bemused look on his face when Larry asked for a pair of these. I guess most folks would ask for the most expensive, high-tech shoe in the line if they were getting them for free, but Larry's had those and thought these would be perfect. Like most shoes the insoles supplied are not great, but once Larry slipped his favorite insole inside - heaven!

The velcro straps and "clicker" buckle work just fine and despite their looks, these shoes ventilate well - something Larry tested in Sicily in June. If walking safely off the bike is important to you, but you don't want to give up the benefits of real cycling shoes, Vittoria's ELITE could be your favorite shoe too!


Disclaimer: Vittoria Shoes is an official supplier to CycleItalia

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