Innovative, lightweight, blissfully comfortable yet secure and supportive with excellent high performance pedalling
- Brilliant cradling yet secure fit
- Double Boa accuracy
- Grippy sole tread
- Cold in winter
- Slippery in mud
- Tech = expensive
- No micro release
Giro’s latest fast off-road shoe combines fantastic fit, security and power delivery with a lightweight breezy feel and surefooted safety off the bike. But hows does it fare when it comes to best gravel bike shoes? We take off the beaten path to find out.
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The Sector is based around an 85Nm tensile-rated carbon composite sole with conventionally positioned cleat sliders (the Ventana trail shoe has inboard offset positioning). The plate is also stainless steel to reduce bolt seizure risk. The rubber tread is a one-piece skin with a semi-lug design that looks more like a spinning/touring shoe than a mountain bike shoe but you do get toe stud mounts. The sole extends to form a small toe kicker, with separate rubber toe and heel sections for extra protection.
The triangulated weave Synchwire mesh upper is overlaid with a web of bonded rubbery ‘Exo Structure’ for additional support. Two rubber wrapped Boa L6 dials tension stainless steel laces over a lightly padded split tongue. Thick padding secures the heel and the insole has a medium arch support orthotic. The heel top is reflective, too.
The mesh construction is appreciably lightweight in execution but as soon as you slide your foot in, you’ll appreciate its ability to mould to your foot. Whether we were in skimpy summer socks or thicker waterproof socks in autumn, the pressure was remarkably consistent all over the shoe. The heel padding stops lift without angering the Achilles area, and winding up the Boa dials takes you from lightly snug to finishing sprint tight without provoking any hot spots. Wider- or tall-footed testers found them equally comfortable and they come in a women’s fit as well. The insole orthotic is noticeably supportive without being divisively obvious like some lumpier shoes. Our only slight complaint is that the L6 dials don’t micro release like some other Boa designs do, so you have to pull for a full release and then start again if you click them a bit too tight.
The superbly secure fit means all your power is transferred through the stiff sole and into your pedals without any squirm or slop. It just shies away from being so rigid your feet will go numb on longer rides or rocky descents on short-travel XC or one of the best gravel bikes.
The Synchwire mesh makes them very cool and breezy too, which is great for summer, dries fast when wet and together with an anti-bac treatment means they’re still smelling sweet long after we’d expect them to be getting offensive. Lots of ventilation means they do run colder than most shoes once temps drop though. The sole tread doesn’t have fully separated lugs either so while there’s plenty of grip in the dry, you’re more likely to slip in muddy conditions unless you make use of the optional toe stud mounts.
Sliding the Giro Sectors towards hot-gravel riding means they’re not as suited to winter as some more MTB-focused shoes. They’re certainly cool and refreshingly fragrant-free in warmer weather though and fit, power transfer and overall comfort are absolutely fantastic. If you can’t afford the Sectors or want a more flexible sole then the Rincon shoe saves you £60/€80 and is essentially the same apart from a single Boa dial and glass fibre sole.
Tech specs: Giro Sector XC/gravel shoes
- Price: £199.99 / €239.95
- Sizes: 39-50 EU
- Colours: Black/grey, Olive green/gum
- Weight: 754g (size 44)
- Retention: Double Boa
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