Crankbrothers Stamp Lace review – a superb do-it-all flat shoe for urban, gravel and bikepacking adventures
Comfortable and with a good balance between weatherproofing and breathability, this is a highly versatile set of flats
Very comfortable and stylish, the Crankbrothers Stamp Lace balances on-the-bike and off-the-bike needs exceptionally well. The shoes are robustly built and offer enough stability for long efforts. The soles still aren’t among the stiffest, though, so if that’s a concern for you, you might be better off with a different model.
Best for walking in
Easy to wipe clean
Don’t expect a super stiff sole for efforts on the bike
Not the grippiest
Pitched as a flat shoe that “does it all, whether on street or trail”, we put the Crankbrothers Stamp Lace fully to the test as a cycling commuter shoe and a gravel shoe, specifically for multi-day bikepacking purposes.
I had a big choice to make this year: which shoes do I wear for a two-week bikepacking trip from Budapest to the mountains of Slovakia? Fortunately, I had the chance to test quite a few flat and SPD-compatible shoes beforehand – so I was able to go with the pair I deemed most suitable for the big trip.
The criteria were that the shoes needed to be able to handle hundreds of kilometres on the bike, but also be versatile enough for the various sections of hike-a-bike and the heavy footfall that comes from sightseeing huge and remote castles along the way. Equally, the shoes still had to look good enough for the odd haute cuisine Slavic restaurants and a few nights in the ‘ruin bars’ of Budapest.
So a lot to tick off! And spoiler alert... the Crankbrothers Stamp Lace performed excellently, and are some of the best commuter cycling shoes for urban and gravel use.
Crankbrothers Stamp Lace: construction
The Crankbrothers Stamp Lace are flat shoes which are designed to match the brand’s own Stamp flat pedals. I did also have a set of those on hand, but I can confirm they work just as well on other, high quality, flat pedals. Being designed specifically for the best flat pedals with pins for grip, the sole has been designed so as to be sufficiently robust and able to put up with that hardwearing setup.
For riding security, the lug depth is designed “around pin dimensions to absorb the pin body”. But this does mean that the shoes’ tread isn’t hugely recessed, and so much of the grip off the bike is relying on the tackiness of the MC2 rubber compound used.
The lace fastening of the aptly named Stamp Lace is paired with a well-placed pouch at the top of the tongue which keeps the laces neatly tidied away.
The upper has been given some weatherproofing, but there are also some perforations and mesh panels to aid breathability. So it’s a bit of a hybrid arrangement to help fend off splashes and showers, whilst also not overheating your feet. Naturally, in a downpour you will still end up with wet feet.
Crankbrothers Stamp Lace: the ride
On the bike, the grip provided by that Match tread worked very effectively with Crankbrothers’ own Stamp 3 Small pedals. With the pedals not being the biggest, rather more was demanded from the soles in terms of the support and stability. For the gravel and bikepacking riding I was doing, it was perfectly sufficient for those long steady days.
I didn’t feel let down in the odd, heavily laden, sprint for some traffic lights. But for actual performance oriented efforts, I would prefer the stiffer platform and security of set of SPD shoes.
As with any bikepacking trip, there’s a lot more to the whole adventure than simply the riding portions. Walking around once I arrived at my destination in the cities, the shoes particularly impressed. The slight ‘give’ offered by the sole allows you to walk naturally, which is certainly not the case for a lot of SPD-compatible urban specific shoes.
When skirting the lower Carpathian mountains in Slovakia, we were tempted into taking a detour off our bikes and having a taste of the huge network of hiking trails that criss-cross the ‘Slovak Paradise’ National Park.
I ended up taking the Crankbrothers Stamp Lace on a 16km gorge walk that included a climb up from the river level to the nearest peak. The shoes aren’t designed for walking such distances, but I wanted to see just how far I could push them. Even with the rocks, steep slopes, mud and all the rest, the shoes took it all in their stride.
Naturally, they’re not as supportive or cushioned as a set of trainers or walking boots, but I was able to put in days of up to 30,000 steps as counted by a Garmin smartwatch. Although not perfect, they did manage to do it all – which is brilliant, as the last thing you want on a bikepacking trip is to be lugging around a second set of shoes.
September is a funny month for bikepacking, you can see pretty much all seasons in a day. From the heaviest of downpours to temperatures above 30 degrees – a visit to one of Europe’s largest ice caves meant they arguably got to experience winter too! After testing the shoes in these extremes, I can say that the Crankbrothers’ were better suited to the cooler and more inclement weather.
The Crankbrothers Stamp Lace held off mud spray well, and were very easy to wipe clean.
On the other hand, the breathability-focussed features didn’t prove to keep things overly comfortable on a longer day in the heat, but they were far from being unbearable.
Crankbrothers Stamp Lace: value and conclusion
The Crankbrothers Stamp Lace flat shoes are on the pricer end of flat shoe options, costing $129.99 / £114.99. This is quite a bit more expensive than Shimano’s GR5 MTB shoes ($114.95 / £79.99), even though the difference in performance between the two is not so substantial. The Navy/Gum styling of the Crankbrothers’ is arguably more pleasing though - cyclists are pre-programmed to just like tan-side walls, right?
Compared to other models that draw greater influence from fashion shoes, the Cranksbrothers sit in the middle. The slip-on style Chrome Dima 3.0 Slip Ons are priced at $95 / £95, while Quoc’s Chelsea boots are around $180.00 / £180.00 - they do have extra SPD compatibility though.
Overall, the Crankbrothers Stamp Lace flat shoes are an excellent option that balance style, walking and riding comfort. Highly recommended for bikepacking and commuting.
If you're interested in finding out about all the kit we used on our two weeks bikepacking around central Europe, wild camping and wandering around the cities, you can check out our write up over here.
If you've never considered flat pedals for bikepacking, our opinion piece on the pros and cons on flat shoes and pedals for bikepacking and gravel riding is just over here.
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I’ve been hooked on bikes ever since the age of 12 and my first lap of the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit in the bright yellow kit of the Hillingdon Slipstreamers. For a time, my cycling life centred around racing road and track.
But that’s since broadened to include multiday two-wheeled, one-sleeping-bag adventures over whatever terrain I happen to meet - with a two-week bikepacking trip from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia being just the latest.
I still enjoy lining up on a start line, though, racing the British Gravel Championships and finding myself on the podium at the enduro-style gravel event, Gritfest in 2022.
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