LOUIS GARNEAU MEN'S
Being entirely frank, it's rare that a road-focused manufacturer successfully makes headway in the mountain market. Note that we said 'rare' and not never. Not surprisingly, Louis Garneau is among the elite few that designs equally across disciplines, as is reflected with its new T-Flex LS-100 Shoes.
Starting at the outsole, Garneau sought to achieve the perfect balance between strength, rigidity, and weight. Are you thinking carbon fiber? So were we. However, the T-Flex utilizes Garneau's Carbon T-Flex Power Blade -- a carbon-reinforced nylon with a removable carbon plat under the arch of the foot. Why have a removable carbon blade? Well, it increases stiffness, but when the temperature rises, its removal exposes a staggered four-vent port that cools the foot. This means that you gain both the stiff benefits of carbon fiber, the controlled flex of a nylon matrix, and optional cooling at the hottest part of the foot. But in terms of rigidity, what does this really amount to? Well, coupled with the LS-100's low stack height, the T-Flex's composition and rigidity equate to a direct transfer of power to the pedals. Just like in frame design, the outsole has a stiffness-to-weight ratio that positively promotes an efficient carry of power with limited energy dispersion. So, in simpler terms, these outsoles make your hard efforts count in relation to speed.
In terms of the aforementioned flexibility, you've surely felt berated by overly stiff outsoles at some point in your riding. The nylon matrix of the Ergo Air IIs amounts to a calculated percentage of 'give' under load. Essentially, this is minute enough that you won't notice it on climbs or hard drives, however, after a few hours on the trail, your feet certainly will. Comfort without the penalty of weight is the design philosophy at work here.
And speaking of weight, the LS-100 tips the scales at a lower weight than many other manufacturer's top offerings -- 320g per shoe. This is credited, in one part, to the outsole, but in our opinion, more so to the lightweight upper construction. This has been constructed from a synthetic leather with mesh ventilation windows along the side of the shoe and over the entire tongue. This means that durability is guaranteed without the risk of the adaptive long-term deformity that plagues natural leather uppers. More importantly, though, a bulk of the weight reduction is a result of the LS-100's closure system. At the toe box, you'll find a single hook-and-loop strap that controls the lower volume of the shoe. Meanwhile, and a first for us at this price, the venerable BOA L4 single rail controls the retention at the top of the tongue. If hadn't noticed, BOA is highly selective as to who it chooses to license to, and that this technology is featured in a mountain shoe is, well, nearly unheard of. Essentially, the L4 buckle provides the most even, forgiving, simple-to-use, and precise retention on the market. With a simple quick turn of the dial, your retention is secured and unwavering.
However, even with all of the above, Garneau wasn't done yet. To prevent the power-sapping effects of heel slippage, the LS-100 features Garneau's HRS-90 technology. Basically, this is a reinforcement panel that cups the heel from the inner and outer points of the outsole, forming a 'band' over the heel. As admittedly basic of a design this is, it works very well at maintaining the secure position of the heel.
Don't think that Garneau forgot about the outsole tread, either. The T-Flex features a dual-density polyurethane tread that's actually been shaped in mimic of crampons. Ultimately, this combination of shape and materials creates a tread that's durable, and just as importantly, effectively sheds mud.
The Louis Garneau T-Flex LS-100 Shoes area available in even sizes from 38.0 to 50.0 and in the colors Black and White. Please note that these shoes are only compatible with two-hole SPD cleat systems, and that they include a pair of both Garneau COOLMAX Ergo Air Cool Stuff Blue and Hot Stuff Red insoles.