Mavic is rolling at exceptionally high speeds lately. Not just their Giro d’Italia-winning carbon wheel-sets but helmets, pedals, apparel and footwear.
The Pro Road ($249) is billed as a lightweight, race-ready road shoe with Mavic’s Energy Full Carbon outsole. While it weighs 25 more grams than the top end Zxellium at 275 grams, it shares several technologies includes the carbon outsole, Ergo Lite Ratchet and a few other ergos.
Like many euro shoes, the Mavic Pro Road runs on the narrow side and we’d mark it down as low volume. We have thin, boney feet that have trouble filling up a shoe, but once we cranked the rachet down tight we felt as snug as in our narrow width Sidis. There was no cramping in the toe box and the narrow heel grabbed us securely.
The two lower velcro closures use a kelvar cable with a hook and loop on one end that gives you two positions so you can dial in a more customized fit. Our first question was whether the thin cable would feel strong and secure — answer, oh yeah. We were able to lock these down as firmly as any traditional strap. The bonus is that compared to a wide strap that covers up the tongue, the thin cables allows for significantly more ventilation. That cooling effect is magnified by the Mavic Pro’s Clima Vent tongue and generous mesh on top of the toe area.
The Ergo Lite ratchet keeps a fairly low profile against the side of the shoe. Tight and loose are both accomplished with the lift of a lever — black one for tight, red for backing off and exit. Clicks are solid and the hold is rock steady. The ratchet itself offers two positions and the adjustment is a one screw task. The design of the top strap is intentionally minimalist but we found we didn’t miss any extra padding.
The Pro gets the same uber-carbon treatment as the Mavic Zxellium and Zxenon — which are not Greek gods, by the way. Mavic leverages their deep expertise in carbon like Giro does with their Easton connection. Stiff is the given but the real thrill is the thin outsole — 5.5 millimeters and a low 7mm stack height. Those two numbers bring you closer to the pedal which in turn cranks up the power output. A boost in energy transfer gives us all that Pro high wattage feeling.
As we said up front, we were impressed with overall fit and closure security. We come from the world of Sidi so we have high expectations. Thanks to the thin carbon outsole and low stack height we were able to lower our seat a few millimeters. Not only did we feel closer to our pedals but being a tall rider, it was nice to drop our center of gravity. We noted no flex in the carbon sole when riding and even an attempt to flex it against our garage wall post meet with little success. No argument on stiff and that’s without a compromise on comfort.
Changing shoes and pedals at the same time after many years can be a dangerous thing. Even with professional cleat positioning and tweaks in bike fit, foot and knee problems can often arise. We made the transition to the Mavic Pros without physical incident. That also speaks to intelligent design, fit and comfort.
Style points. We’re a fan of the Mavic esthetic in general. The Mavic Pros don’t sport the optic searing yellow of their Huez and Zxellium models but the white and black combination with red trim around the ankle struck us as good-looking without begging for attention. Nothing garish or over-styled. People often judge the visual style of a shoe from the side but the irony is that the main view you get is when you’re riding and looking straight down. Seen from on the bike, the Pro’s look fast and the white just says summer and high speeds. The Pro also come in black with white and red accents.
Given our boney feet, we’d have preferred a more padded tongue. The kevlar cables on the velcro straps save weight and open up ventilation but some folks may find they don’t spread out the pressure when you pull them down tight. As always, there’s a trade-off for weight cutting, ventilation and visual flash. A vent on the carbon undersole would have made the credentials list even more impressive.
Verdict. Bah, c’est formidable! If the search criteria is a stylish, slim fitting, nicely vented shoe with a stiff, thin carbon outsole that puts you closer to the pedal, then the Pro certainly ranks way up the list. Special bonus if you’re after a low volume shoe that runs narrow. And finally, the Pros look awesome spinning the cranks next to a set of those Mavic Cosmic Carbones.