Rapha Grand Tour shoe – review

The Grand Tour is the first shoe from the house of Rapha, an offering distinct from the Giro Factor issued in the colours of Rapha Condor Sharp.

The Rapha Grand Tour shoe

While this shoe is also a collaboration (Giro again, with Easton and ECCO) the design is unmistakably Rapha, a brand that has made elegance its calling card.

The road, however, is no catwalk, as any cyclist will know, so how did they perform?

The yak skin upper has been developed by the shoe company ECCO. It was supple from the box and proved comfortable and weather resistant on the bike. We found it breathed well too, and the traditional, holes-in-the-leather system of ventilation (synthetic panels would have been entirely out-of-kilter) proved effective in the early spring conditions in which we have conducted our tests to date. A small, mesh-covered recess at the front of the sole, and corresponding perforation in the insole, doubtless aided cooling, but thankfully didn’t leave us with a damp patch on the ball of the foot.

The fastening mechanism consists of a plastic, ratcheted strap secured by a two-piece clamp (an elegant, lustreless aluminium on the Grand Tour shoe) that was easy to use. Lifting the outer edge tightened the ratcheted strap in regular increments; pressing the inner edge released it. Simple. Two Velcro straps further down the shoe completed the fastening.

We found that the combination of the ratcheted and Velcro straps secured the shoe adequately, and distributed pressure evenly across the lightly-padded (and highly perforated) tongue: a make-or-break area in the comfort stakes in our experience. The shoe remained in place even when pulling hard on the cleats when climbing and sprinting.

The sole is made from Easton’s EC90 carbon fibre. We found it suitably stiff: an efficient transmitter of power that enhanced the ride, rather than an unyielding base. A word should be said here for the cork-EVA insole, which absorbed pressure and provided some support to the arch of the foot. Slight scuff marks on the plastic surface of a low, u-shaped heel showed it had done its job in protecting the valuable carbon sole. The three-point fixing provided a stable mooring for our LOOK cleat.

At 310 grams, the Grand Tour shoe is not the lightest on the market (see Northwave’s Extreme Tech at 264 grams, for example) but both the name and design of the Grand Tour suggests a purpose beyond racing. In truth, Rapha are probably targeting admirers of their clothing rather than those seeking to shave a few seconds from their time on the club 25, and while the performance of the Grand Tour shoe is sufficient to shield it from accusations of style over function, it is that signature style – elegant, understated, and highly desirable – as much as the high quality materials that defines its £300 price tag.

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