In the past, I’ve admittedly approached the incurred cost of road shoe shopping with a sky’s-the-limit attitude. Why? Because the pervasive logic is that any shoe under $300 is bound to embody all, or some, of what’s perceived as a negative in a shoe — heavy, moderate to poor quality, and worst of all, ugly. Whether or not I’ve been justified in this train of thought, or simply because I’m hanging out with the wrong crowd, this logic has generally held true. True, that is, until I received a pair of the Louis Garneau Carbon LS-100 Shoes.
The first impressions on these shoes are pretty tough to beat. I was on a trip to Louis Garneau HQ in Quebec City last December. And after a lengthy day consisting of an interview with Papa G, shooting the entire facility, and a line show of 2014 LG, we went for a spin in one of the most astounding trainer rooms that I’ve ever been in. But given that I didn’t pack any riding gear for a 24-hour, sub-20-degree trip, Pierre at Garneau hooked me up for a two-hour session — I’ve been riding with these shoes ever since.
The design is exceptionally minimal, and accordingly, quite sleek. This is further accentuated through the sparse placement of logos and a complete absence of what I call “filler treatment.” There are no strings attached here, just a low-volume cycling shoe.
To truly examine functionality, I first need to address what shoe function actually entails. Granted, this is rather subjective from person to person, but in terms of generalities, it boils down to weight, comfort, rigidity, and breathability.
In terms of weight, the Carbon LS-100s are a no-brainer win. At around 235 grams per shoe, they enter the svelte kingdom of the Giro Empire and Northwave Extreme Tech, while outdoing the Sidi Wire by some measure. Yes, the $500 Sidi Wire. Needless to say, I hold no complaints in this department.
Rigidity. This is where the aforementioned competitors probably take a slice out of the Carbon LS-100’s birthday cake. They are indeed stiff, but while the others would easily rank a five out of five, the LS-100s are more aligned with a strong four. They’re adequately stiff, but a select few might ask for more.
And lastly, I’ll address both comfort and breathability together. To me, comfort and breathability are nearly derivative of each other. Sadly, though, I’ve been riding these with windproof covers throughout the winter, so I can’t really speak to how breathable or not breathable they actually are. But in terms of generalized comfort, they win. This aspect is assured by the inclusion of both Garneau’s Ergo Air Cool Stuff and Hot Stuff insoles — long time favorites of the staff here at Competitive. If you recall from my Northwave Extreme Tech review, I’m picky when it comes to insoles, usually replacing stock insoles in favor of Giro Supernaturals. However, I’ve yet to feel compelled to make the switch, which I see as a win.
Fit also breeds comfort, and that leads to another important aspect to consider — the inclusion of a BOA L4 buckle and a single hook-and-loop strap above the toe box. It’s minimal, it provides unwavering retention, and it supports the stiffness and grab of the heel cup. So it goes without saying that this is an impressive feature to include in a $200 pair of shoes. More importantly, though, this is the only piece of hardware on the shoe, which equates to a minimization of potential hotspots.
For sizing, you’ll find that these run true to size. I’m a 10 in US sizing, and I wore a 43 in these. Pretty predictable, and there’s no hassle of playing guess the Euro standard — meaning, Italian = narrow and a half size off the mark, either up or down.
I have to approach this from two different vantage points. From atop the mountain of absolutes and totality, I could have done with a little more stiffness and maybe a thermo-moldable insole. But from a $200 perspective, the Carbon LS-100 doesn’t really have any direct competition. A bold statement, true, but I’ve had a few months to solidify my resolution on the matter. However, given that the Utah winter has prevented a true summer-heat-conditions test, I can’t speak in absolutes on the breathability. This is my fault, though, not the shoes’.
At any price point, the Carbon LS-100s would be considered a solid investment, but at $200, it’s practically a steal. And really, what’s more pro than a solid white pair of shoes?