Possibly the nicest gravel shoes money can buy
Stiff, but fine to walk in
Helpful size guide
Range of attractive designs
Laces might be a bit passé for some
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Since British designer and cyclist Quoc Pham started making shoes back in 2009, his ethos has always stayed the same: to make high-performance cycling shoes that are also comfortable and look great — something that can’t be said for some cycling shoe brands out there. With the latest in the Quoc line-up, the Gran Tourer shoes, it appears as though Quoc has a genuine contender for the best gravel bike shoes segment.
Design and aesthetics
The Gran Tourer shoes look quite casual, mainly down to their traditional lace-up system. There’s no fancy Boa setup here, but that’s no bad thing. Sure, they take ever so slightly longer to get in and out of, and they can’t be adjusted on the fly, but when it comes to comfort, laces always win out in my book, thanks to their ability to place an equal amount of pressure across the entire top of the foot.
Indeed, in my experience with cycling shoes, that’s always been the case (I’ve tried laces, straps and Boa). The GTs have seven points at which the laces tighten the shoe, and feature Quoc’s patented Double-Lock lace system. What this is meant to do is allow you to individually tighten the lower and upper sections of the shoe depending on the size of your feet. So if your feet are a little larger in one place, you can loosen them, and vice versa if they’re on the skinnier side. It also means once fastened, there’s no chance of the laces loosening on the move — we can confirm they stayed tight from the start.
The only fiddly thing about laces is what to do with the excess leftover once they’re done up. Normally, I just stuff them into the gap between the tongue and sides of the shoes, but Quoc’s solution is much better: an elasticated loop halfway along the tongue allows you to slot the excess lace into it, keeping it neatly tucked out of the way.
Up to about an inch and a half of the lower portion of the shoe is constructed of a rubber that Quoc calls a ‘water-blocking sole’ and is said to be 100 per cent waterproof. The remainder of the shoe is a bonded upper material that is definitely weather-resistant - helped in part by the gusseted tongue that does its best to keep heavy splashes of water at bay.
It’s fair to say these will do you well on wet days, even if you land in some big puddles that bring up a lot of water under and over your feet. Naturally, the upper can only resist so much in these circumstances, and at that point, your exposed sock will be drenched anyway, so in heavy rain or over very wet ground, we would still wear waterproof overshoes.
At the midsole, there’s carbon composite which ensures stiffness when applying power, though not enough to make the shoes uncomfortable. On the underside, the GravelGrip sole is a rubber blend that Quoc says “combines long-term wear resistance with superb underfoot grip”.
It’s almost hiking shoe-like, but definitely towards the more casual end of the spectrum of walking off-road, unlike some of the more race-orientated gravel shoes that have more MTB-like lugs underneath.
The lining of the shoe is microfibre, which is very comfortable and helps with absorbing sweat away from the foot. Certainly, we experienced no sweaty feet (despite wearing thick winter socks in March and April), and there appears to be minimal pong after rides.
There are no optional innersoles that come with the GTs, so you can’t adjust for different arches, but even with my relatively high arches, I found the fit to be spot on.
Visually, the Gran Tourer shoes are understated and elegant, but very purposeful. The only other shoes we’ve seen that come close to the GTs in this regard are the Giro Privateer shoes, which also happen to be a lace-up configuration. We thought these looked pretty slick until we came across the GTs.
The Gran Tourers come in several different designs, including Green Camo, Pink, a Quoc X ATEG-exclusive colourway, and this Black Camo version which is supposed to represent a topographical map of the UK, overlaid onto a Vietnamese Tiger stripe. Whatever it is, it looks very cool, and gives these shoes a unique look.
If you’re looking for more casual shoes that can tackle a variety of scenarios — think gravel, road, touring, commuting, or even a spot of walking to the coffee shop — then the Quoc Gran Tourers will be an ideal choice.
They’re not slipper-comfortable, because the soles are pretty stiff and hard, but they’re certainly better than other gravel shoes we’ve reviewed in the past, which are definitely more at the performance end of the spectrum, such as the Bont Vapour G or the Northwave Rockstar. They don’t make annoying clog-like sounds, either, which is a bonus.
That's not to say the Gran Tourers don’t deliver in the performance stakes. There’s plenty of stiffness when pedalling hard with minimal flex, and the grippy sole can definitely cut the mustard when it comes to sprinting through the mud if you need to dismount. They’re not quite as effective as lugged soles, but then that’s to be expected with a more casual shoe.
The cleat holes give you plenty of adjustment fore and aft to accommodate different foot positions on the pedal, and there’s plenty of space around the cleat, so getting into cleats is very easy — even if you’re in a rush to clip in.
We weighed them on the scales at 360g per shoe with SPD cleats fitted for a size 10.5/44.5, which is pretty good considering Quoc states a 8.5 without cleats weighs 346g. This puts the GTs easily within reach of other, racier shoes, such as the Bont Vaypor G.
I tend to find cycling shoes are a bit of a nightmare when it comes to fit — different brands size up in different ways, and even often among the same brands fitment will differ between shoe types. Even when you consult the holy grail of help that is the comments in the user reviews section, you can’t make head nor tail of which way you’re meant to go.
Handily, rather than leaving you to guess what might fit your feet, Quoc has a not entirely revolutionary, but very useful fitment guide to help you choose the right size for you. Just measure your largest foot from the centre of your heel to the longest point of your big toe, and using that measurement, find out where you land on its sizing chart.
I ended up with a shoe size a bit smaller than I was anticipating, but I put faith in Quoc’s system and went ahead with the order. It turns out it was pretty much spot on. They look a bit small and feel snug, but in a good way, with no loose areas in any one part of the shoe when laced up securely.
Interestingly, some of the reviews say they work well with wide feet, more so once the material has broken in a little. I’ve got pretty narrow feet and they feel like a standard narrow Shimano/Giro kind of width, with a smidge of pressure on the widest point between my phalanges, but obviously, it depends on just how wide your feet are.
- Object of Desire: Rapha Explore Powerweave shoes
- Bont Vaypor G gravel shoe review
- Northwave Rockster gravel shoes review
Yes, at £219, these shoes are expensive, but they ooze quality and they’ve clearly been designed to perform at a high level no matter the scenario, whether it’s tricky off-road gravel riding or just popping to the shops. They’re fairly light, plenty grippy, and stiff enough to prevent you from wasting power at the pedal.
If you consider the price an investment which you’ll get a lot of return on, then it’s a lot more palatable. They’re certainly not the most expensive premium gravel shoe either — other premium brands’ flagship offerings are even more. Rapha’s Explore Powerweave shoes, for instance, cost £260, while Bont’s Vaypor G shoes are a massive £360.
Although I’ve only had a couple of months to test the shoes, I’ve no doubt these shoes will last a very long time; the materials appear to be very hardwearing. Wipe them clean and pop some Banana Booties inside after every ride, and you should be good to go for many years. You won’t be disappointed.
Tech Specs: Quoc Gran Tourer shoes
- Price: £219
- Weight: 360g per shoe (with cleats), 10.5/44.5
- Sole: Rubber
- Sizes: EU40.5-46.5
- Retention: Laces with Double-Lock system
- Colours: Black Camo, Green Camo, Pink, x ATEG
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