Sportful Pro Race Toe Covers review
These half-overshoes are wholly useful for days when it's not quite warm enough to leave home without some sort of toe protection
The Sportful Pro Race Toe Covers are well fitting, durable and most importantly perform that vital job of protecting your toes (and white shoes) against spring or autumn conditions out on the road. They're well made, designed with practicality in mind, and they are as chic as toe covers can be. Although £24 for something that does such an important job is relatively cheap, they're slightly more expensive than their competitors and we'd like to see more than just one size offered.
Thick neoprene is warm yet pliant
Sleek, minimal design
Only available in one size
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Toe covers are an incredibly useful halfway house for your feet when it’s not quite cold enough for full overshoes but the temperature is still in single figures.
Not only do they supply extra insulation but they’re also perfect for keeping your best cycling shoes clean when the lanes are still wet and filthy. If you’ve just splashed out on a pair of pristine white kicks for the new season, it can be heartbreaking to return home with them splattered in mud after the first ride.
These toe covers from Sportful are some of the best I’ve used, with a really excellent snug fit, tough stitching and a reflective stripe/logo on the top.
Sportful Pro Race Toe Covers: construction
The Sportful Pro Race Toe Covers are made from 3mm fleece-backed neoprene, which is thick enough for a good layer against the chill but pliant enough to pull on over the top of shoes and cleats without a struggle, and forming a good seal with the shoe once in place.
The pattern uses two pieces of neoprene - the larger piece wrapping over the top of the shoe with a seam running around the outside of the toe and underneath on either side of the cleat hole in an arc shape, sensibly avoiding a possible future split at that weak spot and instead dividing the load as well as supplying an anatomical sock-like fit.
The top edge is raw cut, which gives them more of a streamlined look than the type that’s turned over at the top - and I haven’t had any issues with it being less durable for the lack of hem.
The cleat holes for me are not quite perfectly placed as I prefer my cleats set back more than average, but there’s enough stretch in the neoprene that this doesn’t cause a problem. There’s no bunching or wrinkling and no impeding of clipping in or out.
There’s no abrasion-resistant or rubberised material on the sole, as featured in the construction of other toe covers including the Castelli Toe Thingy 2 and the La Passione Toe Covers, but in the past I’ve found these can wear through just as easily as straight neoprene, and can actually be more of a barrier to a snug fit than rough surfaces.
Neoprene is not - and doesn’t claim to be - waterproof, but for spring or autumn riding where wind chill is often the thing that wrecks your enjoyment, these will effectively plug the vents in your shoes.
I've been wearing these for the last month in a variety of conditions. Sportful says they're for use in temperatures of 5deg and up, and I'd go along with that.
Unlike overshoes, your feet are unlikely to overheat in them since they're only really protecting the toes, but one of the benefits of toe covers that's often pointed out is that they can easily be stashed in a jersey pocket if you decide it's too hot for them. At only 74g for the pair they're hardly a burden either way.
As for wear, all toe covers have to be regarded as a sacrificial layer, and although the Sportfuls are tougher than some I’ve used in the past, the edges of the neoprene surrounding the cleat hole are beginning to look a little chewed up, but crucially the reinforcing ring of stitching around the edges has yet to be breached.
So far they haven’t worn through at the underside of the toe that touches the tarmac at junctions and traffic lights, vindicating Sportful’s decision not to spec a stiffer abrasion-resistant sole. However, I still wouldn’t expect them to last beyond this season - or at least in a presentable state.
To prolong the life of the Sportful Pro Race Toe Covers it's best to leave them in place on the shoe and not remove and refit them each time you take your shoes on and off, though admittedly that's not quite so easy with lace-up shoes. This way you don't have to stretch and drag them over sharp-edged cleats so often. I've been using them with my 'winter' shoes, which were my summer shoes a couple of years ago, and these have two Boa dials. It's easy to peel back the top to get at the Boa dials.
Value and conclusion
£24 is not a lot to pay for the extra protection the Sporful Pro Race Toe Covers bring to your toes and your cycling shoes, but it’s at the upper end of toe cover prices: the Castelli Toe Thingy 2s cost £18; the La Passione Toe Covers have an RRP of £20 while the dhb Toe Cover Overshoes have a list price of £18.50.
As you might expect, the waterproof (claimed) Assos Spring Fall Toe Covers G2 are priced higher at £35, so the Sportfuls aren't the most expensive.
Sportful only offers one size in the Pro Race Toe Covers, which seems aimed at larger shoes (mine are size 44). Castelli also only offers a single size, so those with smaller feet might need to look at Assos (three sizes), La Passione (three sizes) or dhb (two sizes).
To sum up, these are very effective, nicely designed, well made, durable and probably the best-looking toe covers out there - if the aesthetics of toe covers is something you care about.
|Sportful Pro Race Toe Covers||Header Cell - Column 1||Header Cell - Column 2|
|Fabric:||3mm neoprene||Row 0 - Cell 2|
|Weight:||74g/pair||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|Sizes:||One||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|RRP||£24||Row 3 - Cell 2|
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Simon Smythe is a hugely experienced cycling tech writer, who has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2003. Until recently he was our senior tech writer. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
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