Giant Bicycles Line Shoes: Checkpoint – by Guitar Ted
The use of mountain biking shoes isn’t anything new for cyclists that ply the gravel and dirt roads. However; the new crop of mountain biking shoes is a bit different than the “converted road shoe” style MTB togs of the past. These new shoes tend to have a different look, and a different purpose, which is not so racing focused. Do they work for gravel travel? That was the big question I had about the Giant Line shoes on test. (Introduction post HERE)
Ride Performance: The story, from my perspective, on the Line shoes is twofold. They are some really comfy shoes most of the time. The feature set works well for me, but there is a concern with one or two things here. So, there is Good and there is Not So Good. First, the”Not So Good” stuff:
The Giant Line shoes, much like the Shuttle Flat shoes on test, have a wiiiide toe box and since these shoes feature a rubber “bumper” which goes almost all the way around the fore-foot area, I found that the shoe rubbed on my crank while pedaling. Only by moving the cleat a bit, thanks to the generous amount of room to do so, was I able to get the Line shoes to clear the Ultegra crank set’s arms while pedaling. Of course, this might be an issue if precise cleat placement leaves no room to compromise. For me, it didn’t seem to be a big issue.
Besides that small problem, I found that these shoes are not the best in the high humidity and heat of Summer in Iowa. I could go about an hour and my feet were cooked. Of course, it was well above 100°F with 70% humidity, so take that into consideration. “Cooler” days- in the 80’s- weren’t a problem for me, but these are not “airy” shoes by any stretch. If you have to have good air flow, then these shoes are not what you want. Interestingly, I’ve found that the other Giant shoes I have on test- the Shuttle Flats- are actually cooler than the Line shoes are. They have air flow which I can feel versus the Line’s lack of much air flow at all.
Finally, I have found the strap which integrates with the buckle ratchet to be curiously short. I do not have much of an instep, and at best, I can maybe get three to four clicks in before things get too tight. I cannot imagine anyone with a large arched instep would have an easy time of getting the ratchet strap to engage. I have sent along my concerns to Giant. They asked me to measure the ratcheting strap, and that’s been done. Their thinking is I may have a pair of shoes with out of spec straps. That has not been confirmed as of this writing. If we hear anything back, I’ll be sure to update on this issue.
UPDATE: A reader commented (below) and pointed out that the buckle has an alternate mounting position which allows for adjustment of the strap engagement. I checked his claim and it is true. You can gain some relief in strap length by removing a small, JIS screw and moving the buckle to its alternate position.
I highly suggest using a JIS standard Phillips and NOT a Phillips driver that you might typically find since, in my experiment, a standard Phillips cams out of that screw and will strip out the head easily if you aren’t careful. I realized this before I did damage and was able to switch to my JIS Phillips driver which easily removed that screw. You get 10mms of adjustment by moving the screw. I would also recommend LocTite on the threads of that screw if you move it.
The Good: Of course, they are tough, they are MTB shoes after all. Walk-ability is great, and the traction these soles have is topnotch when you do have to hike-a-bike it. I love the blue color, which was a limited offering, unfortunately. Line shoes will be a stealthy Black/Grey combo for consumers. If my foot were wide, (they are not, I have skinny feet), these shoes would be comfy and my toes would have wiggle room. I don’t particularly like a shoe that needs to be tight on my foot. So, the unique way in which your feet feel encapsulated, (besides the roomy toebox), due to the ExoWrap design means I can run these shoes with minimal strap pressure. Nice! This meant hours of carefree riding in the Line shoes, as long as it wasn’t really hot out. Plus, it was easy to get out of the buckle without major fuss. That’s good when you are tired.
So Far…. As long as it isn’t too hot, these are actually pretty nice shoes for pedaling out on the gravel. My thought is that these would be better choices for warm to cool weather climates. Hot, humid areas will require shoes with more venting than the Line shoes have. Wide feet? These could be your shoes then. The ratcheting strap may be an issue for those with a high arched instep. Otherwise the ratchet strap is easy to use and the buckle disengages easily when you want out. The ExoWrap technology keeps the shoe snug so that strap pressure can be reduced. I found this made these shoes very comfortable.
Walk-ability is very good and the rubbery soles have decent traction. Cleat placement is easy to get right, but the width of the sole’s forefoot area may interfere with crank arms during pedaling if cleat placement is more outboard on the sole than inboard. Still, the Line shoes are a decent choice as long as the negatives don’t bother you.
The final say on these is yet to come in our “At The Finish” post coming soon.
Note: Giant sent over the Line model cycling shoes at no charge to Riding Gravel for test and review. We are not being bribed nor paid for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.