Last time we debuted some new riding kit from Bontrager that is very applicable to gravel or light MTB riding. It is warmer weather gear, so once spring hit in So Cal, we suited up and got riding. This is what we learned.
If you are not a big fan of Lycra or you tend toward more casual options, then technical clothing like this Adventure line from Bontrager falls into the gap between hucking and crits. This approach of a snug fitting short, not loose like a full baggie, and good looking enough to wear around town, when combined with casual looking jerseys or shirts in high tech fabrics…well it reminds me a lot of what was called ‘Touring Clothing’ in days gone by.
The RX8 does what a gravel bike does. It takes what was a road thing, for smooth paved surfaces, and it makes it into a rough road, dirt road thing. Gravel riding is not mountain biking, (despite the cross-over at some points), and the demands of road riding are a bit closer related to what we do on gravel “roads” than what people need to have for single track. Therefore; it is my opinion that a slightly modified road shoe is what will do the job best, and Shimano has knocked it out of the park with the RX8
As is often said, the best apparel and components simply “disappear” while riding, leaving you to enjoy the ride. The RX8 shoes from Shimano are the definition of such an apparel item. While either walking a gnarly, muddy dirt road or riding up and down hill and vale, the RX8 just got out of my way and let me do my thing.
Finally, remember that “kickstand” knob at the end of the toe? Well, I laughed out loud when I read the marketing copy about this “feature”, but while commuting to work in the RX8’s the other day I found myself at a stop sign waiting on a traffic light, and you know what? I noticed that little knob was actually kinda nice to have.
My opinion is that the Line Shoe might be best for someone that has a mountain biking first bent to their riding, and if they ride back roads, well then these shoes would be a comfortable, durable choice, with the caveat that they might be a bit toasty on hot days and that their wide stance may interfere a bit with certain bikes/riding styles.
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 Line model from Giant is actually a development in conjunction with the Giant racing team and aimed at enduro mountain bikers. These types of shoes typically have more foot protection and a nod to walk-ability and with that, traction off the bike. Giant felt as though these might also be traits a gravel road rider might be interested in.