Burly but sleek reinforcement around toe, heel, and outer
Among lightest in class
Reverse tightening with left hand
Does not allow micro-adjust loosening
Arch support almost non-existent on flimsy insoles
Lugs could be more grippy
The first thing riders will notice about the Louis Garneau Granite is the surprisingly supple upper. The fit is glove like, hugging every curve of the foot, whether wide or narrow. But it feels tough and well protected around the key areas, and features a stiff outsole and outstanding heel cup for improved power transfer. The Granite could use more grippy lugs for Trail and Enduro riding, as well as more flex in the toe for hike-a-bike sections. And the dial closure lacks enough micro adjustment and the cables pull too tight over the midfoot when cranked.
Stiffness/Power Transfer The combination of a stiff outsole and very snug fit gives the Granite strong power transfer even under heavy torque. Often shoes this plush and supple sacrifice efficiency, but once tightened, the shoe doesn’t allow the foot to move within the shoe at all. And the stiffness is also strong torsionally, so stand up efforts are efficient even on varied and off-camber terrain. It’s also among the lightest in the group which helps a little with efficiency. What little flex there is occurs in an even flex rather than a weak spot, so even if cranking down on the heel, the power goes to the pedal.
Fit/Comfort Fit is definitely the strongest aspect of this shoe, with among the most contoured, and literally glove-like fit of any XC shoe we’ve seen. The upper is highly supple and you can actually see it curving around the contours of the foot when cranked. But whereas many tight fits like this can result in hotspots or abrasions, there were no such issues with this shoe, probably because of the suppleness of the material, and the perfectly smooth, seamless interior. The only issue we experienced was the dial cables—when cranked tight, these cables tightened more across the midfoot than the upper instep, which is somewhat common with this type of dial, but even more so with the Granite’s minimalist tongue. There was also some cramping directly above the pedal cleat, and breathability and drainage are sub-par, making for a warm and perhaps sloppy interior if stream crossings are part of your route.
Closure System While we’re big fans of dial closures in general, lower-end recent models (and all early models) only allow for one-way tightening, and do not provide a micro adjustment when loosening. So while the right shoe tightens in the usual “righty tighty” manner, the left is reversed, and for some this can be a nuisance, albeit a minor one to be sure. And to loosen these dials, you have to pull up to release the tension. But this is an all-or-nothing system—when you pull up the line releases completely, so you have to re-tighten all the way again. Definitely not conducive to on-the-fly adjustment. This combination is something racers should note.
Construction/Durability The soft, supple synthetic upper is not as stiff as most uppers, and therefore it may be a bit less durable, although we didn’t test long enough for a definitive statement on this. And having to unclip every time you need to loosen, rather than just dialing backwards, increases wear on the mechanism, and we’ve seen these wear out over time. But the cables and plastic guides should easily last the life of the shoe.
Off-Bike Performance Walkability is significantly compromised due to the stiffness of the outsole, a lack of sufficient grip in the lugs, and a slick plastic section under the arch—this will be especially obvious on wet rocks and roots. While this is great for pure speed and power on smoother trails and shorter rides, when the trail gets tough and hike-a-bikes are unavoidable it can be a big problem. Even more so in longer, marathon style riding where considerable walking sections are common. The supple feel and overall comfort of the shoe certainly helps, but it’s not enough to overcome the downside.
Breathability/Drainage Ample vents over the toes, a thin, well-ventilated tongue, and decent perforation in the midfoot combine to make this a highly breathable shoe. There is quite a bit of rubberized protection around the bottom which can help keep water out, but if it does get in it’s that much tougher to drain. The ventilation will help with evaporation, but it won’t be quick.