The Suplest Crosscountry Pro off-road shoes are principally performance oriented, with a price tag to match. But although the stiff soles offer great power transfer, they aren’t harsh and can be ridden long distances, which opens up their versatility. They are a little on the narrow side, though, so it’s worth trying a set on before you buy.
Grippy heel cup
Easy to walk around in
Good water resistance
Tacky sole provides grip on hard surfaces
A little narrow in the toe box
Not very grippy in sloppy mud
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Although the “Crossountry” moniker may have echoes of mountain biking, efficient power transfer through stiff soles and ease of movement off the bike are both qualities which can be fully appreciated by gravel riders.
The Construction: Suplest Crosscountry Pro Gravel Shoes
The heart of the soles is a carbon core, providing a rigid platform for pedalling. Around this is a rubber profile – the result of a collaboration with SUPtraction – and is intended to provide grip on hard and unyielding surfaces, such a rock faces. The cleat fitting, as you would expect from an off-road shoe, is of the two-bolt variety.
There are lugs for grip in muddy terrain – although fewer than you get on some off road shoes, such as the Specialized Recon 3.0. However, there is still the capacity for a pair of studs to be mounted on the forefoot.
The wonder material which permeates all of cycling extends to the upper of these shoes, with a “carbonsheild” designed to spread the pressure of the laces over a greater area, thereby reducing the potential for hotspots. Those laces are tightened by two Boa IP-1 dials, which allow you to loosen the tension 1mm increments as well as tighten.
To better keep your feet locked in where they should be, the heel features a “cat’s tongue” fabric, which is grippy in one direction and smooth in the other – so slipping you feet into these shoes remains just as easy as any other.
The carbon soles really did their job for minimising flex. Naturally, they don't match the level of a top-end road shoe – but compared to those just a little lower down the tree, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. Until it comes to clipping in and out, that is, and the ease of the two bolt system.
But even with such firm soles, somehow they were still very easy to walk around in. Not on the level of the Specialized Recon shoes with their articulated forefoot, but still much easier than with other off-road shoes – and that even includes some which have a greater amount of flex when you're pedalling.
The rubber of the sole did prove to be very grippy, even on wet surfaces, making movement off the bike all the easier. Less relevant now as we move into summer –although winter is never really that far away – but I did find that the heel lugs didn’t provide so much in the way of grip when walking down steep and muddy slopes.
If your gravel riding is largely a summer affair or you live in a rockier location, this likely wouldn’t prove to be an issue. But those who spend a lot of time in the slop might find a more aggressive shoe, such as the Specialized Recon 2.0 (opens in new tab), a better option.
The upper has proved robust so far and I don’t see that changing in a hurry. Riding through the overgrown trails of the spring, they’ve stood up well to hits from brambles and branches.
The white finish is an... interesting choice for an off-road shoe. But to be fair, for the time being it has actually cleaned up pretty well, which has been quite a surprise.
The Crosscountry Pro shoes are also surprisingly water resistant. Obviously, if it’s raining hard, water will just come through past your ankles, but when it’s largely just standing water or a light drizzle, my feet actually stayed pretty dry.
This potentially comes as a trade off against breathability, but riding these through one of the most miserable springs I've experienced, there haven't actually been any days above 20°C since a one off in March – and we’re now nearly in June. What I’m getting at is that I can’t really comment on how breathable the shoes are because there just hasn’t been the weather.
Although these are marketed as a shoe for race efforts, they have proved comfortable over long distances. On rides nudging five hours, the soles of my feet remained perfectly happy and didn’t have any of those aches and pains as you get from a set of overly harsh shoes.
However, I did find that the fit around the toe box was a little tight. It didn’t cause me problems, as I could loosen the second Boa dial to keep things comfy, and then easily tighten it again when it came to putting in an effort. But for a set of shoes over £300, I would want the fit to be spot on and obviate the need for any extra faff.
At £311.00, the Suplest Crosscountry Pro gravel shoes are near the top of the price bracket. The Lake MX 238 Supercross (opens in new tab) shoes are significantly cheaper and do come in a wide range of widths. However the mesh venting does mean they let the elements in a little more.
The Crosscountry Pro shoes are themselves significantly cheaper than the Sidi Jarin (opens in new tab) shoes, which come in at £360. We’d say that the Suplest shoes offer a far better blend of efficiency and comfort, with the Jarins being a little harsh for long rides.
|Weight||818g (size 43, measured)|
|Sizes||39, 40, 41, 42, 42.5, 43, 43.5, 44, 44.5, 45, 46, 47|
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