Unlike their paved-road counterparts, off-road cycling shoes need to blend walkability and pedaling efficiency. For shoe manufacturers, the challenge of balancing stiffness with flexibility and comfort is no small feat (bad pun intended). Louis Garneau‘s feature-packed T-Flex LS-100 ($249.99 MSRP) shoe is equally adept whether you’re pedaling or hoofing it.
Constructed from a combination of microfiber fabric and mesh, the LS-100′s upper features a BOA quick-attach closure, and forefoot Velcro strap for a secure fit. The carbon and reinforced-nylon midsole offers increased stiffness, while the deeply-lugged outsole and flexible toe area enable improved traction when walking. Louis Garneau includes winter and summer Ergo Air insoles, as well as two styles of toe studs.
Having narrow, low-volume feet, I often have a difficult time finding cycling shoes that fit properly. The LS-100 features what Louis Garneau refers to as an elite fit, and I opted for the same size as my other cycling shoes (44.5). The result was a no-slip fit that remained comfortable on longer rides. Initially, I was skeptical that the lightweight BOA closure would be as secure as a ratcheting buckle system, but the former proved to be solid, and free of pressure points.
During the course of this review, I tested the Louis Garneau shoes with Time ATAC and Crank Brothers Candy 3 pedals. The soles’ deep tread required minor modification to clear the Crank Brothers’ platforms, but the Time cleats were compatible as-is. Whether pedaling out of the saddle, or coasting over rocky trails, I never noticed any excessive flex or hot spots. Thanks to the Louis Garneau T-Flex design, walking was much less awkward than with other cycling shoes.
Pedaling efficiency doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, though. The Ergo Air insoles offer plenty of cushion and support, while the padded heel cups and collars are easy on your ankles and tendons. Removing the carbon T-Flex Power Blades increased ventilation slightly, but I couldn’t detect any difference in stiffness or efficiency. It’s too soon to report on long-term durability, but after five months of use, sole wear has been minimal, and the shoes’ uppers and fittings remain solid.
Disclosure: Louis Garneau provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.