Adidas The Gravel Cycling Shoe review - three-striped style turns to the trail
Adidas go full-on gravel chic with a new off-road shoe
The Adidas Gravel Cycling Shoe is one for those idyllic long, dry and dusty gravel rides in the summer sunshine where as much importance is put on coffee shop style as riding performance. They're lightweight and comfortable, easy to walk in and heavy on style. On the downside, there's no water resistance and the sole easily clogs with mud which makes them unsuitable for all year round riding.
Comfort for all day rides and walking
High proportion of recycled materials
Gravel fashion points
Sole retains mud
Based the design on the recently relaunched Road Shoe, the Adidas Gravel Cycling Shoe has a two-bolt cleat box, a walking-friendly sole and ankle cuff to keep out the stones.
In designing the Gravel Cycling Shoe, there’s no doubt that Adidas have given at least as much thought to the modern gravel riders’ fashion needs as their riding ones. All important stuff when it comes to choosing your best gravel bike shoes.
Adidas The Gravel Cycling Shoe: construction
The Gravel Cycling Shoe upper is made from a single-piece of lightweight ripstop fabric. In a positive step from Adidas, the upper is made from 50 per cent recycled materials. The ankle-cuff is a thicker, more flexible knitted fabric. Adidas describe it as an “inner sock” which seems quite a stretch given it’s only around the top of the shoe rather than a full internal lining.
The synthetic sole has a two bolt cleat mounting and enough flex for walking. There are TPU “pods” on the heel and forefoot for walking grip which are rather are reminiscent of my 1990s astro-turf football boots.
The shoe has a lace closure and slightly elasticated cuff-top. Color choice includes stereotypical gravel khaki, full football boot black, fluro pink and white. At time of publication, the coral and lilac colour-way of our review pair is not available.
Adidas The Gravel Cycling Shoe: the ride
Sizing and fit was what I expected on my UK 7 / EU 42 foot. Adidas has a sizing chart on its website that includes foot length which is pretty useful given the variation in fit between brands. On our scales the pair weighed 23.5oz / 670g.
The eyelets run a good length of these shoes so you do have plenty adjustment whatever the size / shape of your foot. The laces are quite long though so even using the tongue loops they still do flap around a fair bit. The moderate stiffness of the sole and fabric upper means there’s plenty of chance to wriggle your toes which makes them they’re comfortable on longer rides.
The ankle cuff sits fairly loose (on my skinny ankles) but at the same time there weren’t any noticeable gaps around the top. Like all non-adjustable cuffs they are a bit fiddly to get on, not because the cuff is too tight or thick like on many-a winter boot, but because the pull-tabs are anchored firmly to the shoe itself rather than the top of the cuff which means the cuff isn’t pulled taut when you tug on them. The other downside of the cuff is that it plays havoc with your sock game; there’s both length and colour to consider here. For someone who doesn’t have a strong record in this area it’s been quite a challenge to contend with.
The ‘ripstop’ upper material has more rugged than I expected during this review period but I can’t see these holding up particularly well overtime. The toe does have a little reinforcement but it’s not great and so unlikely to be much of a match for the inevitable hike-a-bike rock kicks. The material isn’t water resistant so if your rides are puddley then you will get soggy toes.
The extrusions around the heel, forefoot and toes provide plenty of grip when walking on hard packed ground. However, this design is also absolutely brilliant at retaining mud if you have put your foot down on anything remotely damp. Or, put another way, you don’t want to be treading in dog poo in these shoes.
Jesting aside, this really limits the shoe to riding on premium gravel or dry conditions. If your gravel riding involves an occasional trudge across a muddy path or field, then these aren’t going to be the shoes for you. As well as the grips holding a lot of mud it also packs in around the recessed cleat making it awkward to clip in and equally awkward to clear when riding. It took me a good ten minutes with a nail brush and running tap to clear the soles after these pictures were taken.
Adidas The Gravel Cycling Shoe: value and conclusion
At $170 / £160 Adidas’ Gravel Cycling Shoe sits somewhere in the middle of gravel shoe pricing. Features of similarly priced gravel shoes vary; some like the Fizik Terra Atlas ($160 / £155) have BOA fastenings, others such as Giro Privateer ($170 / £140) are laced.
The Adidas Gravel Cycling Shoe is a stylish shoe well suited to those long, hot dusty ‘grammable days. For the rest of the year when riding is more muddy and less glamourous, then you’d be better leaving them in the dry and warm of home.
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Rachel has been writing about and reviewing bike tech for the last 10 years. Cynical by nature, Rachel never really trusts the marketing hype and prefers to give products a mighty good testing before deciding whether they're worth buying or not.
Rachel's first riding love is mountain biking where she's been European and UK 24hr Champion on more than one occasion. She's not just confined to the trails though and regularly rides - and occasionally races - on gravel and road too.
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