Despite the weight, the Suplest Edge+ Pro Series shoes are one of the better options when it comes to fit, comfort and performance
- Striking aesthetics
- Best-in-class comfort and fit
- Twin IP1 Boa dial retention
- Custom Hasie and the Robots treatment
- Not for the gram counters
- Non-replaceable traction pads
Customisation has become an increasingly de rigueur concept of late, with cyclists spending hundreds of pounds to differentiate themselves from the masses by upping their sartorial game - the pros included. This has quickly trickled down into ancillary items such as road bike helmets, cycling sunglasses and even cycling shoes.
There are only a handful of skilled artists who specialise in this kind of work because painting intricate materials such as shoe leather, carbon fibre and plastic is a rather difficult and time-consuming procedure. Any shortcuts will not only show up immediately but also sully the overall result - in this specialist field, quality control is everything.
Of the select artists who've mastered working in this specific niche, it's Johan Johnston or 'Hasie and the Robots' who I've always admired. I first came across his Instagram profile a couple of years ago and was drawn to his eccentric use of colour, bold lines and geometric shapes, and how he stitches these attributes together to tell a story.
Naturally, it didn't take much convincing to hand him my fresh pair of Suplest Edge+ Pro Series cycling shoes to scribble on.
Design and aesthetics
Some of you may remember our first look review of the Suplest Edge+ Pro Series road shoes which were launched late last year. As Suplest's most performance-orientated offering it naturally sits in the top rungs of the Swiss brand's cycling shoe portfolio, boasting design cues quite unlike that of its rivals. The only issue I've had to date is the colour.
White is a rather counter-intuitive hue at the best of times and here in the UK, the wet and often gritty roads can ruin a pair of white shoes in a matter of hours. The upshot of a white shoe, however, is that it's the best colour option when it comes to customising - in this case, it would provide the perfect canvas upon which Hasie could work his magic. Concerned not to tamper much with the shoe's unique blueprint and dot-matrix design Hasie decided to work around these attributes and fill in the white spaces only.
The design brief was simple: create something bold and colourful but with an African twist. Why Africa you might ask? Well, Hasie and I are both native South Africans and, with the surfeit of copy-and-paste custom shoe designs currently flooding the market, I wanted something truly unique to echo the flavours of my country of birth.
The inspiration stems from the house painting motifs of the Ndzundza Ndebele people of South Africa. I've always been fascinated by the Ndebele's bright use of colour and ornate patterns and have long admired the work of Ndebele artist, Esther Mahlangu. I asked Hasie to use this as the basis of inspiration and then put his own spin on the concept.
A pro creation
The entire design process from preparation to execution - can take between 12 and 20 days to complete - it all hinges around the intricacy of the design. That said before any work is carried out Hasie will mock up several design options based on the initial concept, which is then sent to the client for approval.
From old, torn leather lace-ups to botched home-style paint jobs, Hasie has seen his fair share of crazy requests over the years. As a general rule, he avoids used items and only works with shoes in as close-to-new condition as possible to minimise any of the common issues as caused by the blemishes, damage and creasing. Thankfully, the Suplest shoes used for this creation were still in the box.
Before the painting process can even begin the shoes are cleaned and the surface prepared - something which involves mapping out the design after a special primer has been applied to the working surface. Not only does the primer ensure the paint bonds to the shoe, but it also increases paint durability and provides additional protection of the microfibre surface. Several layers of paint are meticulously applied - by hand - and left to dry to avoid brushmarks, unwanted textures and imperfections.
Once all the coloured panels are painted, keyline or black pinstriping is applied to frame the shapes - not only does this bolster the graphic effect of the motif-style design it also keeps within the framework of the Ndebele style. Finally, after hand-signing the shoes (two extra signatures verifying the authenticity are located under each inner sole) the paint is treated with two layers of clearcoat fixative to keep everything intact and weatherproof the paintwork.
I asked for some extra details - particularly on the carbon soles - but was warned against such a request based on the likelihood of pedal strikes and pavement rash damaging the paintwork and ruining the shoes.
Performance and fit
It's always a nerve-wracking experience taking out something valuable for testing - especially expensive road bike exotica or high-end carbon goodies - but I felt edgier than usual putting these bespoke shoes through a real-world test. The thought of scuffing them on a tyre let alone scraping them on a curb made for some interesting behaviour at times.
In terms of fit, the Suplest Edge+ Pro series shoes are some of the best I've tested. Yes, they're on the heavier side when compared to its rivals but that's more a case of the 60g Solestar insole more than anything else. In fact, the insoles are removable and can be retrofitted with aftermarket orthotics or slightly lighter alternatives should you need them.
Much of the shoe's impressive performance levels comes from the newly developed Ergo 360-degree carbon outsole. Claimed to be lighter than its forebear thanks to foam-based core technology, the soles provide a solid platform from which to pedal. While the stiffness index of the sole is unavailable, power transfer is precise with detailed levels of feedback coming through the pedals. Cleat adjustability is relatively straightforward thanks to what Suplest refers to as 'improved sole marking'. (The shoes are compatible with cleats that use the three-bolt standard such as Look and Shimano).
The Suplest Edge+ Pro Series shoes, however, are more about comfort than outright performance. With high-performance cycling shoes, there is often a trade-off between comfort and response but Suplest appears to have struck the perfect balance here - the result of which is the most snug-fitting, slipper-like shoe we've tested thanks to the neutral sizing.
Suplest's Edge+ Pro Series road shoes are quality offerings, no question. The fit is unparalleled and power transfer noticeably efficient thanks to the Ergo 360-degree carbon outsole and the even spread of retention of the twin Boa dials and Carbonshield. By utilising various shapes, patterns and textures they're also incredibly graphic and bold in their design execution.
Available in three colourways - anthracite-radiant red, black-silver or white-black - we decided to take things up a notch by letting renowned artist Hasie and the Robots wave his magic wand on them. The result may not be to everyone's taste - these are custom shoes after all - but you can't deny the visual presence, something which can be tailored to your specification and needs.
Of course, something like this is best used as a special-occasion option for coffee rides and the like but the paintwork is made to last and can be used day in, day out regardless of the type of riding on offer - racing included. After 20 hours of use to date, the shoes are holding up well and have received plenty of compliments out on the road.
As a genuine racing option the Suplest Edge+ Pro Series road shoes clearly go against the notion that tighter and lighter is faster. Suplest, on the other hand, has touted comfort and fit as king while still retaining a stiff pedalling platform for extended periods of hard pedalling at FTP wattages.
Commission details, pricing and additional galleries are all available at hasiecustoms.com
Tech spec: Suplest Edge+ Pro Series road shoes
- RRP: £320 / $390 / A$449
- Weight: 290g (actual, size 42 without cleats)
- Sizing: 37 - 47 (EU)
- Outsole: Ergo 360° carbon
- Upper: Microfibre
- Retention: Twin Boa IP1
- Colours: 3
- Customising: Hasie and the Robots
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