04 May 2009

bikefix Exclusive Review: Specialized BG Trail 110 shoes

I bought Specialized's BG Trail 110 shoes last summer in anticipation of a trip I was planning that was going to have loads of rocky technical downhills. I wanted a shoe that gave me more protection than my standard XC mountain bike shoe since it is not uncommon to for me to have rocks flip up and hit me in the ankle or leg. Other than going to shin guards, I can’t do anything about the leg, but the BG Trail 110 shoes add a fair amount of protection at the ankle.

The set-up took longer than expected as it took me a while to find the best spot (forward or backward) for the cleats. For some reason I ended up having the cleats in a slightly rearward when compared to my other shoes. I don’t know if it is the cut of the shoe, or if the extra ankle protection tricked my mind into thinking the cleats were further forward than they were- I ended up positioning the cleats about 1-2mm further back than I am used to.

I think it’s funny how cyclists have to learn European shoes sizes since so many bike shoes are from European companies. In cycling shoes, I am almost always a 44. Depending on who is converting to US sizes, this can be a shoe from about a 9.5 to an 11. In the case of the 110’s- they are closer to the 11. Because of the Trail 110's size, I added a Specialized BG custom insole to take up some of the extra room. Needless to say, the fit was roomy. I think they probably run small for a US size but it’s hard to say as those aren't particularly consistent either. Since Specialized shoes are so easy to find, I suggest going down to your local bike shop and try them on. Beyond the sizing issues, the extra ankle protection feels funny and restricting at first but I forgot about it once I was riding and I have since grown accustomed to the feeling when I first put them on.

I have yet to have an occasion where the extra protection has been needed (not while wearing them that is) but I have had bumps and bruises around the ankle when riding in other shoes so I know that in certain situations it’s often worth it. A friend of mine even broke a bone in his ankle in a weird slow-speed leveraged fall that these shoes might have made the difference on. He thinks so at least because he almost always rides in a pair of Trail 110’s now. I agree with his concern, but the problem I have is that the BG Trail 110s are a fair bit warmer than many of my other shoes- when I get to the trailhead and it’s hot out, I tend to reach for lighter, cooler shoes.

The 110’s build quality seems good and the durability has so far been great. They have a tough rubber rock-guard around the toe to add to this shoe’s durable character too. Despite the chunkiness, they actually still look pretty good. The lower is fairly stiff, although not racer stiff, and not “flexy” enough to call the Spez's comfortable walking shoes. They weigh about 800 grams per pair which isn’t too bad considering their level of protection (some people will notice and be bothered by the weight more than others).

I like these shoes a lot but I don’t reach for them as much as my racier shoes. I guess it’s because ankle protection isn’t a big issue for me except on certain trails (which I don't ride that much). In any case, if protection is high on your list of qualities for a pair of mountain biking shoes, then the Specialized BG Trail 110 should be high on your list (especially if the summer heat of the desert isn’t an issue for you). They retail for $135.00. Specialized also offered a more expensive version of this shoe called the Trail 120, but that shoe is no longer listed on their website.

Note: My 110s are the 2008 model. The new BG Trail 110 comes in different colors and a few small changes such as a different lug pattern on the bottom, but appears to be essentially the same shoe.

charlie

www.specialized.com

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