One of the latest and most anticipated offerings from Rapha are their Climber's Shoes. Designed in a collaboration with Giro these super lightweight shoes are high on both form and function.
Words Mike Boudrie Images - Andrew Clifforth
The Rapha Climber's Shoes are a sight to behold. New for this season these shoes have caused a massive amount of excitement at La Velocita HQ.
We don't quite know what it is but there's an increased level of excitement when you receive a package bearing the Rapha logo, a slight increase in heart rate and air of anticipation. It was no different with the Climber's Shoes. Simply getting into the box is an experience in itself.
The Rapha Climber's shoes have been produced by Rapha in partnership with Giro. The aim being to create 'the world's finest road shoes for specialist climbers'.
DESIGN AND STYLING
The overall look of the shoe simple and clean. They have that classic Rapha look.
The most striking aspect of the Climber's Shoes is their 'spotted' finish. While engineered to provide serious ventilation, it's also about the design aesthetic for Rapha. Being a shoe aimed at climbers, most cyclist know that where there are polka dots there are climbers.
Rapha has taken inspiration from the polka dots of the famous King of the Mountains jersey, specifically the ones worn by the two riders that have each won this category six times, Spain's Federico Bahamontes and Luciern Van Impe from Belgium.
The uppers and straps of the Climber's shoes are made from a lightweight mesh backed synthetic leather that is designed for breathability, support and flexibility. Rapha and Giro have gone for a simple three strap velcro closure.
The footbed is made by Giro using Easton's Prolight™ material, the result is a sole that is less than half the weight of that in Rapha's GT Shoes. Inside, theres an anti-bacterial silver lining and sole comes with a selection of arch hight inners. The shoes also take most types of custom orthotics.
Straight out the box and on the feet these shoes just feel right. No pressure points, nothing digging in, even and firm pressure across the foot.
On the bike they are super comfortable, within minutes we felt right at home with the Rapha Climber's. For hot Australian summer conditions they are perfect, with excellent airflow and breathability. We experienced no 'hotspots' while riding, this can be particularly unpleasant on long climbs in hot weather and can result in serious foot pain.
We were interested to see a return to velcro closures, no ratchet, no dials, no new ingenious mechanism. Does this let the Climber's down. Well no. Out of the saddle hard efforts on 14 degree plus gradients and our feet were held in place. We put it down to a combination of a well design heal section and padding, together with the overall fit.
Sole stiffness is excellent as you'd expect from Giro. They have been in the game long enough to know what they are doing.
In fact, we soon started asking ourselves the question... why "climber's shoes"? They feel good on the flat, for long days in the saddle, and of course in the mountains.
We've only had the opportunity to ride these shoes in the warmer Australian months. When winter closes in, or if you are a cooler climate rider, it may be worth considering whether the saved weight of the Climber's is worth it if you'll need to be wearing overshoes and heavy winter socks.
SIZING AND OPTIONS
Sizing - EU39 to EU47 in half size increments and EU48.
Colours - White, Black or Blue
Our tester wore a size EU45
At AU$440 the Climbers Shoes don't come cheap. For your money you get an highly engineered, super stiff, high end cycling shoe that comes with all the Rapha excitement.
Want the full Rapha experience? This is not a bad place to get it. If you are after simplicity, supreme comfort and a classic look go no further. Head to www.rapha.cc now.
- EC90 SLXII sole
- ProLight™ SN footbeds
- Perforated synthetic leather uppers
- Replaceable heel defenders
- Lightweight and low-profile fasteners
- Weight of size UK-9/US-9.5/EU-42.5: 215g