Five Ten‘s sticky-soled shoes are renowned among flat and platform pedal users for their tenacious grip. If you happen to prefer clipless over flats, don’t fret though, because Five Ten offers ten SPD-compatible shoes for both men and women. And in 2016, the company’s top all-mountain shoe–the Kestrel ($180 MSRP)–gets some company in the form of the Kestrel Lace model ($150 MSRP).
As you might expect, the original and new Kestrel Lace models both feature Five Ten’s Stealth® rubber outsoles. While the two shoes’ soles may look similar, the original Kestrel features a dual-compound outsole that utilizes the company’s Stealth® C4™ and Mi6™ formulas (the Kestral Lace is spec’d with the company’s Stealth C4 rubber outsole). Despite the different compounds, both soles have the same dotty pattern for off-the-bike traction, and stitched toe caps for improved durability.
When I tested Crankbrothers’ Candy 3 pedals two years ago, I found them to be good, all-around pedals for off-road use. My only real gripe with the system was dialing in the shoe/pedal interface as the cleats and shoes wore from use. Even with the aid of Crankbrothers’ cleat shims and optional stainless steel Shoe Plates, finding the right blend of support and ease of entry/exit was largely hit or miss. So when Crankbrothers announced their new Candy 7 pedals (MSRP $165 USD) with configurable traction pads, I jumped at the chance to give them a try.
The Candy 7 and 11 pedals’ improvements aren’t limited to the aforementioned traction pads. To address durability issues, the company partnered with bearing giants igus and Enduro to develop a new system designed to excel in the pedals’ low-speed, high-torque environment. New seals were also added to keep water and debris from entering the pedal’s bearings The iconic Candy pedal bodies also get some fine tuning in the form of added ribs for better traction when unclipped, and chamfered edges to reduce rock strikes.
In the first installment of GRAVELBIKE’s absoluteBLACK (aB) review, I covered aB’s 28T oval MTB chainring. Since then, the company began shipping their new oval CX chainrings. Available in conventional and direct-mount versions, absoluteBLACK’s CX rings feature the company’s Patent Pending narrow-wide tooth design. Because the conventional 5-bolt CX ring isn’t compatible with SRAM cranksets that have a hidden 5th bolt, I opted to test the direct-mount version. Over the past few weeks, I’ve logged 300-350 miles with the company’s 40T oval CX chainring on my Salsa Vaya gravel/commuter rig.
It used to be that choosing cycling shoes for off-road riding meant one thing: compromise. Stiffness and efficiency often came at the expense of traction and walkability (and vice-versa). Rarely could you have your proverbial cake and eat it, too. Thanks to Pearl Izumi’s X-Alp Launch II shoes, however, gravel and adventure riders don’t have to sacrifice performance for off-the-bike comfort and durability.
At first glance, the X-Alp Launch II ($160 MSRP) may not look that different from many other recreational cycling shoes. Don’t let the subdued graphics and clean lines fool you, though, because the Launch II shares technology found on Pearl Izumi’s more expensive X-Project 1.0 shoes. And in case you’re wondering if the X-Alp can handle your local trails, the X-Alp just happens to be the shoe of choice for world-champion racer Brian Lopes.