05 October 2009

bikefix Exclusive Review: Mavic Tempo shoes

The Mavic name is relatively new to the apparel side of biking. The company did hold the rights to the cycling-world rights to the Adidas name for several years, though, so have a few years' experience with cycling clothing. I wasn’t too fond of the Adidas stuff, so I didn’t pay too much attention until the Mavic sales rep showed up and gave me a look at a bunch of their stuff. I was impressed by the quality and the details of what I saw. Not long after that I ordered a few different items from Mavic. The Tempo shoe is the first review I am making from that order because it is so damn good.

The Tempo shoe is third from the top in Mavic’s cross-country line of shoes. They subtitle it simply “Lightweight high-end cross-country race shoe.” That is the type of shoe I do most of my riding in so I felt it was a good choice. The two models above it are mostly just lighter and stiffer, but otherwise similar. One of my long-time complaints about mountain bike shoes has been that I want the fit and weight of a XC upper with the softer rubber sole of the walking type shoes. The Tempo is the answer. The soles' rubber is very grippy and the upper is straight XC type- with two adjustable Velcro straps and one ratcheting strap. I have not yet lost traction on a rock or root with these shoes. Sure, if it is wet out they can slip, but not any more than a regular hiking boot and honestly, that is a price you pay for riding in wet conditions. A second bonus is that the sole is just flexible enough for comfortable walking over short distances. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to hike in these, but the hike-a-bikes that you encounter on the trail are much more comfortable than with a race sole. They aren’t so flexible that you couldn’t use them for racing but if you get serious about racing I’ll bet you’d want to get a stiffer shoe. I've done a couple of singlespeed rides with these shoes on and those were the only times their flexibility was a noticeable drawback.

As far as fit, the Tempo's are near perfect for me. I have a high volume foot that is fairly wide (but not really wide). I am a 9.5 but often have to buy size 10 shoes because of the volume of my foot. I did get the Tempo in a 10 and that is just about perfect.
If I was going to race in it I would probably get the 9.5 because the 10 has a tad of extra room, but I like that for all-around use. The materials are supple enough that there is room for folks with strange foot types and such.

The Tempo is made of very breathable fabrics and high-end synthetic leather. The Mavic website lists a few different tech features but I’m not going to go into them because they are the usual drawl. Suffice it to say they are well-made and have few problems. The toe box has a minimal rubber-type protective layer that has held-up very well (pay attention Sidi). The only problem I have encountered was with the ratchet system. It doesn’t like you to use long quick lever strokes. If you do you will start stripping out the plastic notches that the lever teeth hold onto. I quickly figured out that the first tooth of the ratchet was positioned properly and you just had to shorten your stroke. The Mavic rep sent me replacements immediately and assured me that this problem is supposedly fixed on the newer shoes. Even with this issue, this is my favorite pair of shoes ever.

I highly recommend the Tempo. Fit is subjective however and that is one of my primary reasons for loving them. The whole package tops it off, and I plan to order more shoes (different types) from Mavic soon. They retail for $175.



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