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The Key to Happy Feet? These Winter Cycling Shoes

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Nothing kills your motivation to get outside and ride in cold weather faster than cold feet. Shoe covers do a pretty good job, but nothing beats a pair of winter specific shoes to get through colder days and longer rides. There are plenty of winter specific shoes that work with mountain bike pedals, but surprisingly few road compatible versions. One brand that has invested in a road specific winter shoe is Mavic, with the Ksyrium Pro Thermo. We’ve put some miles on this shoe in a mix of conditions to see just how it stacks up to Mother Nature.

The Features
There are several features employed to keep the weather out and your feet warm. First and most importantly is the fully waterproof construction that uses a GoreTex membrane.  On the outside, a thin neoprene cover goes over the top of the shoe and above the ankle for better protection. The composite sole is drilled to accept any three hole cleat. A lace system under the outer layer is used to secure the shoe, using a single dial placed on the outside.

The high cuff and outer cover keep out the elements.
The high cuff and outer cover keep out the elements.

The extra neoprene around the ankle does make it harder to slip into, and the large velcro tab often got caught on our socks. The fit is standard, so no need to size up or down from what you would normally wear. The toe box is fairly generous, even with thicker socks on our feet had room to move. Once in, the micro dial system, similar to BOA, cinches down the fit.

The Test
On the road, the Pro Thermo did a good job of insulating our feet from the cold. In temperatures above 35 degrees with a thermal sock, we were able to pedal for a few hours without the cold becoming a factor. In fact, there were some rides where the shoe seemed a little too hot, a common issue with products that use a GoreTex membrane. If you venture out in temperatures below freezing, you will feel the cold come through, but not to the point where it would force you to turn around. An ill advised attempt to ride before an incoming storm let us test the snow/water repellency, and the Pro Thermo did an excellent job of keeping our feet dry. The composite sole does not provide quite the same stiffness and power transfer we are used to, but that’s ok for shoe designed more for facing extreme weather than winning sprints.

The Caveats
We did encounter a few potential issues with the Pro Thermo. First, while the high cuff does a great job of keeping the weather out, the extra material around the ankle did rub the crank on occasion. Second, the single dial closure makes getting even pressure across the foot nearly impossible. Like other winter shoes that use an outer cover, adding a dial or some form of closure across the lower foot is problematic. The fit is still secure, but to keep from getting pressure points it has to be kept a little loose, which isn’t too bad since shoes that are too tight can restrict blood flow and cause your feet to get colder faster.

The Verdict
At $225, they are priced similar to winter shoes from Sidi or Northwave. Though if you want more adjustment and a full carbon sole, Northwave does offer those feature in their high end winter shoe, which also retails at over $300. But for most winter riders, the Pro Thermo is more than adequate. And while they are certainly more expensive than shoe covers, for the triathlete dedicated to riding outside no matter what the weather–or if you’re signed up for Norseman–a winter specific shoe is an absolute must. Overall, the Mavic Ksyrium Pro Thermo achieves the main goal of warm and happy feet mile after mile.