Giro Privateer Review

December 20, 2011

The Good

  • Performs like a top of the line shoe
  • Stiffer-than-you'd-think nylon sole
  • Excellent fit, especially for higher volume feet
  • Great bang for your buck

The Bad

  • Doesn't come with the SuperNatural Fit Kit like the more expensive Giro shoes
  • Doesn't come with toe spikes

There's little reason to pay big bucks for high end shoes when Giro's affordable Privateer performs just as well or even a bit better.


Sure, Giro’s Privateer might call to mind a swashbuckling, peg-legged pirate. But I think what Giro had in mind was more like the unattached, darkhorse racer—the guy in the non-descript kit who, despite the lack of teammates and sponsorship, is able to regularly crack the top ten and even nab the occasional podium spot. That guy needs good shoes but can’t pay $300. He’s probably wearing these shoes.

The Privateer sits third in Giro’s off-road lineup. While the top two shoes are built on Easton carbon fiber platforms, the Privateer has a Nylon sole, albeit one that was heavily engineered to combine a low stack height with a lot of stiffness. The upper is a mix of synthetic leather microfiber and nylon mesh with reinforcements and scuff guards in all the usual spots. It features the same buckle and ratchet strap as the upper end Giro shoes and two Velcro straps with offset D-rings which are designed to relieve pressure on the instep of the foot. The lining is nylon mesh and the tongue is built with firm padding that is bonded on with a fine mesh liner that eliminates stitching and the potential for irritation. The outsole has tan, rubbery polyurethane lugs which, along with the black upper, coordinate nicely with most CX tubies—an added plus.

On the bike, Giro’s engineering of the nylon sole was evident in the efficient power transfer that felt comparable to carbon-soled shoes I’ve tried. In fact, in side-by-side on-the-bike testing, I could detect no difference between a carbon soled shoe and the Privateer. The one difference was off the bike where the Privateer had more flexibility in the toe which helped me in the steep run-ups during the last ‘cross race of the season. In the peanut butter mud of that race, the sole packed up around the cleat area and made clipping in difficult, but no stock shoe is immune to that. A Dremel tool modification can remedy this easily enough.

Personal note: The fit of these shoes was the best I’ve ever experienced in a cycling shoe, better, in fact, than my beloved Specialized Pros. Since these were the HV (high volume) edition of the Privateer, my D-width forefoot and toes had the perfect amount of room. I don’t consider my feet to be high volume, so I was worried that the ratchet strap might bottom out before getting tight enough, but I was able to crank them down adequately with a few clicks still left. Though Giro’s SuperNatural fit kit is not included with these more affordable shoes, I felt like the stock footbed gave my medium arch feet adequate support.


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