Giro Code MTB Shoe Review

I have always believed that there is a very fine line separating something
from being resplendent or garish, and when I received my Giro Code mountain
biking shoes in a florescent green/yellow color, I found myself treading
that rather tenuous line.

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The Code is the top of the line mountain bike shoe from Giro that uses
Easton¹s EC90 carbon to provide lightweight stiffness for racing purposes.
It uses the common cycling shoe tightening system that employs two lower
Velcro straps with a plastic strap buckling top strap. Giro seemed to have
decided to keep things simple as opposed to competing designs where the
Velcro straps have been replaced by Boa or other mechanically
tightening/adjusting systems that Sidi and Specialized have favored.

I have been cycling with the revered Sidi Dominator for five years so I was
relatively incredulous about trying something new, and not because they were
infallible, but because Sidi was ³The² Italian shoe company that made flashy
cycling and motorcycle shoes for the elite racers of the world. It was the
common denominator with all the local Edmonton racers who fancied themselves
serious, much like the bandana colors of the Bloods and Crips. Well, not
really, but it was what everyone donned at the time.

Yet, as everyone was covetous about the Dominators, there were many
complaints about them that were quite consistent by most, if not, all
owners. The first thing was the horrible afterthought of a shoe insole that
you received with the shoes. It was like Sidi had extra cardboard laying
around the factory, decided to paint it blue and cut into insoles to put in
their shoes. There was no midfoot support, metatarsal arch support or any
corrective hindfoot valgus or varus wedges included, and considering the
price of the Dominators, I¹m surprised that we were all beguiled into buying
a pair. Everyone bought Specialized, Superfeet or custom made insoles to
spare themselves from the hotspots and foot pain due to the unsupported foot
structures. Secondly, the buckles would not release if mud got into them and
dried up. I remember having to drive home from a race in my cycling shoes
because I simply could not get the buckle to open up. You would have to use
a sharp object to chip off the mud to get the buckle to eventually release.
Lastly, and my most frustrating problem, was the Velcro straps just ceasing
to hold. Bizarrely, Sidi decided to put a red plastic piece in the middle
of the straps, allegedly to prolong the Velcro¹s ability to hold, but
ironically, it just prevented more contact between the fabric and made the
straps almost non-functional. After five years, the middle one just releases
and flaps in the wind whenever I going biking. In retrospect, the Sidi
Dominators have been disappointing. Why everyone bought them will remain a
mystery.

Getting back to the Code shoes, I had those Sidi faults in mind so I wanted
to see how Giro would have potentially addressed those now glaring problem.
They had developed the Supernatural fit insoles where they claimed that once
you decided which of the interchangeable arch supports worked best for your
foot type, it would prevent hotspots, numbness and cramping. I found that
the insoles did not provide adequate metatarsal arch support, for me at
least, and it did not address the hindfoot valgus/varus issue that is
associated with talus pronation that would effect the power transfer from
the leg/ankle to the pedals. As a chiropractor for the last 15 years, I
could be more critical of their claims, but I understand that the insoles
are not custom made orthotics and in comparison to the Sidi insoles, they
are significantly more effective in addressing foot biomechanics and
comfort. As a matter of fact, the Codes were immediately more comfortable
than the Dominators, and not just because of the insoles, but because the
toe bed is slightly wider therefore there seemed to be less wedging of the
toes. The insoles came with the medium arch support as a default so I went
for my first ride with them. After a two hour ride, I did develop some
forefoot hot spots and notice that my midfoot arch was not supported enough.
The next ride I switched the arch support wedges from medium to high and
noticed the difference right away. The wedges seemed like it wasn¹t just a
marketing ploy, but it did change my biomechanics by supporting my pes
planus and providing slight rearfoot varus. The next time I wore the
shoes, I raced the local Tuesday night race, and it was a long race so it
was a good test for shoes¹ performance. Simply put, it felt great with no
hot spots or cramping. Considering it was my second time out, this bolds
well for my communion with the shoes.

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The buckle system is a very simple functioning ratchet system seen in the
majority of cycling shoes. You lift one side to pull the plastic strap and
tighten the shoe, then you push the other side to release. I can only
surmise that once mud gets into the mechanism, it will prevent proper
release just like the Dominators, but we can only wait and see.

I would have thought that Giro would have heeded to the Velcro complains and
developed a better system. But at first glace, it seems like they didn¹t
address the issue at all. Perhaps the most obvious difference is that the
Velcro strap loops at the top of the foot instead of the more medial loop
that was in the Dominators. The most concerning issue is the design of the
transition of hook side to the loop side of the Velcro strap. The hook side
stops far too early, and so when you pull the strap and push down the end,
there is not a lot of actual hook and loop surface contact. Most of the
contact is the loop to loop, therefore not contributing to the hold at all.
It seems like an obvious design flaw because if Giro would have just
lengthened the hook side just another centimeter, there would be double the
functional contact. This would have perhaps increased the lifespan of the
Velcro straps. Now, it may never be an issue and the Velcro straps may
always hold, but I think a simple change would drastically prevent the
Velcro strap from being nonfunctional in the future.

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Despite some minor and perhaps prognosticating issues, my initial response
from the Giro Code shoes have been very positive as they feel comfortable
and transfer power effectively to the pedals. With two races done, I hope
to race many more and look resplendent in them in an 80¹s way.

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Kootenay Krusher

Josh & I decided early on this winter when we were planning our race calendar to be sure to not miss the Kootenay Krusher for another year.  The Kootenay Krusher is a 50 km single track mountain bike race at the beautiful Nipika Mountain Resort.

Along with guest Evan Wishloff (Pedalhead – watch for his guest post coming soon), Josh and headed out to Nipika Moutain resort.

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Team camp for the weekend.

Most of the 25 km course paralleled the Kootenay River, with is turquoise blue waters and undulated up and down with a total of 800m of climbing for the 50 km race.  Rough and bump fun I must say!

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Josh & Mike on one of the many sections of course with sweet views of the Kootenay River.

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Pre-riding the course

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Loving every meter of trail

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Spectacular views of the Kootenay River

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Get that guy a beer!

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Chef Hines’ delicious pork steaks20130614 213805

Can’t beat the views of this place

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Rocky Mountain Element & Instinct ready to rock

Off the start the start I went to the front and spun out my 32-11 gear as best I could and figured this was as fast as I would go to lead out the group.  The 1st couple of kilometres were on the XC ski trail, so there was lots of room to move around.

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Starting out at Nipika

As the course turned a sharp right and climbed it’s way up, a few guys pushed the pace, including Peter Knight who put in a solid dig up the climb.  I knew the ski trail got steep just before entering the singletrack, so I launched an attach up the steepest pitch and entered the rough and bumpy false flat trail in 1st position.

From there I just kept the throttle close to the redline for a few minutes and I opened up a decent sized gap on 2nd position.  I never new what the time split was however I was able to get out of sight – which is almost more important.  It’s hard to chase down someone you can’t see in a race.

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Lettuce Hamburger for the pretend glutarded

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Sorry buddy, theme the rules

I had one minor crash up top on the ’15km’ loop of the course, where a moment of inattention resulted in washing out my front wheel, which evolved into me eating a Kootenay dirt sandwich.  I picked myself up and dusted myself off and got going again…slowly trying to find my rhythm.  It was a good reminder to always stay focused during the race and try to stop your mind from wandering to waffles and maple syrup.

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This was thoroughly entertaining

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Chillin’ before awards

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Great loot for the win – Beer and a Pillow.  Drink the beer, then use the pillow – in that order

In the end, I won the race with a time just over 2:45 – setting a new course record.  For my efforts I received a rather large bottle of beer and a camp pillow to sleep the beer off with afterwards.  Riches in deed.IMG 2474

Fastest Man and Women on the day posing with Race Organizer Lyle

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New Course Record

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Josh scored some sweet swag too…a Magestic Horse decorative Flag.

This was a really great event and I plan to be back.  This is a great place to go where everyone can camp at the venue, enjoy a few brews around a campfire, and rip some sweet singletrack.

See you at the races!

-Mike