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The 2014 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide magazine is out on newsstands now (and check out the digital version), and we’re giving you a sneak peek right here. Check out the cycling shoes from the guide here and check back to Triathlete.com for more Buyer’s Guide content.
The draw: Ultra-secure foot grip
The newest top-end road shoe from the historic Italian shoemaker retains Sidi’s classic narrow fit, but is sleeker, lighter and better ventilated. The closure system uses two proprietary rotating ratchets to fine-tune the fit. They also open and close quickly, making the Wire an ideal long-distance triathlon race shoe. It creates a more secure and comfortable fit than any tri-specific shoe and won’t hinder transition. Many of the top Ironman pros are now racing in road shoes for this reason. While the price tag is steep, any Sidi loyalist will tell you the luxurious slipper-like fit and unrivaled durability are worth the money.
Specialized S-Works Trivent
The draw: Speedy transitions
Built for quick transitions, the heel cup drops down to allow the foot to slide in or out rapidly and ratchets shut with a Boa dial. Pedaling away from a flying mount is easier in this shoe because the upper provides a place for the foot. Despite the movable design, the shoe grips quite effectively and holds the foot rigidly in place for direct power transfer. The length runs true to size, and there’s slightly more volume than average in the toe box. The gaping hole on top of the shoes creates significant ventilation that you’ll appreciate during rides in the heat.
The draw: Conforming fit
A neoprene tongue is the most original aspect of the K1. While you may associate neoprene with wetsuits rather than cycling shoes, Fizik selected it for the tongue so water doesn’t seep into the shoe when mounting with wet feet. The downside? Neoprene is less breathable than mesh and the difference is noticeable when riding. The exterior of the shoe—straps and sole—is stiff all around yet the interior is supple and conforming. The K1 fits true to size and has a medium-width arch.
Tri Fly IV Carbon
The draw: Plush comfort, solid fit
The anatomically designed closure of the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly IV Carbon comfortably wraps your feet and eliminates hot spots, thanks in part to the offset straps. The glove-like fit locks the foot into place, which helps direct power through the stiff carbon sole. Ventilation is excellent thanks to mesh panels throughout the upper. The Tri Fly IV fits small, so consider a half size up from your normal.
The draw: Smoother flying mounts
Shimano’s entry-level tri shoe sports a clean look and employs a simple one-strap closure with a reinforced plastic sole. The strap has a notch to hold it in place, creating a large opening that makes this one of the easiest shoes to slip into, and the large heel loop also aids in quick transitions. The quick-dry interior and supple synthetic leather upper make the TR32 a serious value. With a fit that’s true to size, this shoe has plenty of volume that will work for a wide range of foot types.
Giro Inciter Tri
The draw: Top-end fit
Don’t be deceived by the price—this shoe has no weakness. It has a nylon outsole instead of carbon, and while power transfer doesn’t suffer noticeably, it does add a few grams. The airy upper features mesh panels and perforations that help increase airflow; the industry-standard two-strap closure system is effective at holding the foot in place. The molded footbed offers above-average arch support. Size runs true and the shoe is shaped for medium-width feet.
Louis Garneau Tri X-Lite
The draw: Stiffness and low weight
Fast and efficient out on the road, the Tri X-Lite shoes are also quick in transition due to the best heel loop on the market and its simple closure. The direction of the strap, however, is potentially problematic because it can interfere with the crankset. The off-center design minimizes this risk and also reduces hot spots. Mid-width and narrow feet will fit best. The sole has fore- and mid-foot vents to assist in ventilation and drainage. A small loop on the side of the shoe helps suspend it for a flying mount.