What does it mean to say these shoes “stand between XC and gravity footwear?” The Giro Ventana clipless mountain bike shoes are less rigid and-weight conscious than true cross country kicks, and less armor-clad than most gravity shoes. This recent model from Giro is nestled in an important place that covers nearly all use cases for daylong adventures in the mountains, or dirt roads. It’s a “do it all shoe.” Furthermore, the cleat channel doesn’t extend toward the mid-foot as it does with a lot of modern gravity shoes, keeping a more forward XC-like cleat placement.
The Ventana also don’t look like your typical trail shoe. From above they bear some resemblance to a pair of indoor soccer shoes, and their natural colorway blends well in the forest. They come in whole sizes between 38 and 48, in all black or with green uppers and gumshoe soles.
The uppers close tightly around my bone-thin feet, with on-the-fly adjustability thanks to their handy BOA dial. I have trouble finding shoes that can tighten adequately around my feet, and won’t allow my heel to slip out while walking uphill. The closure on this pair cinches up plenty taught, and a click or two is all it takes to dial in the fit throughout the ride. The closure opens up with space for a foot roughly two times the girth of mine, which should satisfy nearly anyone’s shoe retention preferences.
I expected the lower velcro strap to be a cursory or aesthetic addition to the BOA system, but it’s not. It pulls the upper together at the widest point of your foot, and does a lot to make the Ventana more comfortable for both walking and riding. If you regularly hike-a-bike, you will likely appreciate these quick adjustments that pair well with the shoe’s grippy hiking sole.
The daylong design intention of these shoes is patently clear both in its lack of hot spots or noticeable cleat pressure, and in the walkability of the sole. At roughly 460g each (size 43), somewhat wet and deeply dirty, I was suspicious that the sole might be too thin for legit gravity riding. After multiple days in the bike park I am pleasantly surprised by the support and protection the sole provides. While the uppers don’t offer any more protection than a traditional XC shoe, the sole wraps the toe box just enough to catch a lot of the most direct stone strikes.
I hiked a fair bit in these kicks, trying to reach the top of former race stages in the Alps, and the flexible upper and sole felt great on the way up or downhill. While nothing truly sticks to wet roots, the Ventana tread pattern and compound makes for a fantastic traction companion on most trail surfaces. Giro would have an easy time marketing these directly to bikepackers, since they’re as comfortable on the bike as off.
The final necessary note on this lovely pair of footwear is its ability to dry out quickly, which might also please bikepackers and multi-day enduro racers. I splashed them through glacial runoff streams multiple times a day, then left them outside overnight and strapped them on dry the following morning. While the somewhat thinner uppers might lack protection they make up for it with a short drying time. That thinner upper also breathes well, making the Ventana a solid choice for summer shoes.
My stateside coworker, Matt Miller, shared some of my accolades for these shoes, though he encountered a fit issue that justifies trying these on before you purchase them. “I have had a test set of the Giro Ventanas in as well, and they have become a favorite for all kinds of trail riding. Like Gerow noted, they are quick drying and flexible enough for hike-a-bike, but stiff enough for long pedals. My only nag is that they have slipped a lot from my heels on uphill hikes, and it seems like I have to ratchet the Boa down more often than other shoes to keep them tight. Otherwise, they have been a great shoe for singletrack.”
The Ventanas have quickly become a favorite pair of riding shoes, both for their cozily forgettable fit and subtle aesthetic. They appear to be a durable pair of footwear that should stay at the top of your rotation for several seasons. Pick up a pair at your local Giro dealer, or online for $180 at retailers including Competitive Cyclist and Wiggle.
We would like to thank BOA for sending these shoes along for testing and review.