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The cycling shoe is a many-headed beast. For every person who swears that the perfect shoe is a carbon-soled, neonhued disco-slipper, there are others who look baffled at the very thought of cycling-specific shoes, and point at their tatty-looking Vans.

And then there are those of us in the middle. Those who appreciate that cycling needs a decent pair of dedicated footwear, but who are still those who don’t need to advertise the extreme speed their frantically rotating pins are capable of by bolting some neon yellow numbers onto them. Those who might (gasp!) actually get off and push once in a while. Those who might, complete with bike kit, saunter to the pub for a post-ride pick-me-up, rather than stripping off for a hot lemon massage and a glass of horse liniment, or whatever those ultrafit cross-country types get up to. We wouldn’t know, sadly.

And there’s the rub, really. For the vast, vast majority of riders we need shoes which can fill a variety of roles. First up, they need to ride well. Obvs. We’ve chosen clipless pedals for that test, but that rubric equally applies to flat-pedal shoes. In an ideal world the energy from your frantic leg flailing efforts would be transferred with tip-top efficiency to the pedals, and the feel of the shoe would be tuneable to your preference. But that never happens; it’s all about compromise.

And the next rather important compromise is that, for a great many of us, mountain biking occasionally involves(whisper it) walking – whether it’s an enormous two-hour hike-a-bike up something ludicrously steep so you can scream down the other side through to repeated sessions on the same jump spot in the woods. And that means you need grip, and a certain amount of flexibility.

There’s a fast-growing competitive, timed trail-riding competition style popular within mountain biking these days – I forget the name – which often requires a little bit of ‘portage’. Often shoes which are marketed as for ‘enduro’ racing (ah, I remembered) should fit the bill – the only real difference being some truly enthusiastically bright colours. So we’ve gathered together ten shoes of a trail or enduro bent to see if we can decide which is the finest all-round trail shoe. So, without further ado, read on, Macduff...


Price: £79.99 // From: Cube, cube.eu

Size Tested: 46 // Women’s version available: No

The first thing to note about Cube’s sensible-looking All Mountain SPD shoes is that, thanks to the screw-on cleat plate cover, you can apparently use them with flat pedals too – although that plate cover is pretty hard plastic, so it’s perhaps not the best option. A fairly generous last (it was capacious on me in the mid-section, but not enormously so) reveals a comfortable heel and a roomy toe box in a well-ventilated shoe. The body of the shoe is made of mesh, onto which is printed a rubber pattern, which keeps weight down and airflow up. So they’re not the warmest or most weatherproof of shoes, but they do dry very fast when soaked. Laces are the closure of choice, augmented by a Velcro strap along the top of the shoe which is extremely capable at tightening things down.

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About Singletrack

UK Adventure – Long Mynd: Barney goes in search of long singletrack descents too good to miss. International Adventure – Ecuador: Cass Gilbert goes bikepacking – stunning photography and adventure results. International Adventure – Los Angeles: Chipps seeks out that which is not concrete in the City of Angels. Crash Gallery – A fond look at some crash photos inspired by this issue’s cover. Classic Ride – Exmoor: Barney finds that steep hills and merciless gorse can hide a treasure trove of West Country singletrack. Grouptest: Trail SPD shoes are tested by the team. But do they pass the ‘pub’ test? Bike Test – The Second Coming: We test three second iterations of bikes from Orange, Santa Cruz and Singular. Is it a case of improvement through evolution, or a film sequel style flop? Grinder: A bucketful of shiny components, lovingly mixed with some springtime grit and exuberant riding before judgement. UK Adventure – Orienteering: Chipps tests out his map reading skills in the Dark Peak. Magic in the Margins of the Day: A change in circumstances leads Doug McDonald to discover the joy of dusk and and dawn riding.