Louis Garneau is onto something with their X-Comfort Zone system, which offers added stretch in the 6th toe area. Not only is this feature found on their top-shelf designs, it’s on more and more shoes, like the all-new Garneau HilliBilli XC/Gravel shoes.
Louis Garneau HilliBilli XC Shoes Features:
- Seamless bonded uppers
- X-Comfort Zone for added width where needed
- BOA L6 fit system
- Ergo Grip 2 outsole
- Fiberglass/nylon sole
- Removable toe spikes
- MSRP: $179.99
Just the shoe for HilliBilli’s
Further expanding their gravel/XC offerings, the new Louis Garneau HilliBilli shoes are available in a more earthy style, BOA fit system and a walkable outsole. Aimed at both XC and gravel riding and racing, the HilliBilli offers a good fit and excellent power transfer.
One of the marquee features is Garneau’s exclusive X-Comfort Zone, which allows your sixth toe area to stretch out for a more comfortable fit without needing a wide toe box. Trying them on, you can immediately feel the stretch as it expands to your foot shape and on the trail it becomes even more apparent. However, as opposed to more sophisticated shoes, the HilliBilli features a standard center tongue and closure. Due to that, the uppers aren’t as foot-cradling as they could be.
I found that I would need to tighten them three times for any given ride: 1) when first putting them on, 2) after walking around the garage a little and 3) after a mile or so down the trail. It’s not uncommon to tighten a second time, but the best shoes allow me to tighten them right off the bat and not touch them again. I’ll just say they don’t quite match the set-it-and-forget-it Shimano S-Phyre XC9’s in that regard.
All testing has been 100% aboard the Trek Top Fuel 9.9 with the TIME MX 6 pedals, but certainly these would be great for gravel. I haven’t had any outsole interference with the MX 6’s at all and the treads are substantial. Those treads are awesome for hiking around the trails and walkability is superb — even though the fiberglass/nylon midsole is plenty stiff. Garneau has figured out the proper rocker to make walking easy while maintaining pedaling efficiency. Pre or post-ride activities or hike-a-bike sections feel natural and smooth.
The bonded uppers do offer excellent comfort overall — in spite of the simple closure design. And, my heel is locked securely in place with no sloppiness whatsoever. Demanding rides yield great responsiveness overall as these disappear and allow you to become one with your pedals and bike.
As temperatures rise, it puts breathability to the test. while most of my rides are in the morning hours, mid-day rides did quickly remind me that breathability isn’t the Hillibilli’s strong suit. If you commonly ride during the heat of the day, wear thin socks.
Fit: I’m a 44.5 in Bontrager and a 45 in Shimano and Garneau and these 45’s are perfect.
- BOA lacing system is always a good idea
- Great traction
- Really walkable, with great traction
- X-Comfort Zone adds a little width
- Outsole feels stiff
- Basic upper/tongue design doesn’t offer best fit
- Laces don’t easily pull through eyelets
- L6 BOA dial only offers one-way ratcheting
The Bottom Line: Louis Garneau Hillibilli Shoes
Louis Garneau hangs their hat on their marquee shoe features, like X-Comfort Zone. They are also great at using BOA lacing systems across much of their lineup. The new Hillibilli Shoes showcase both of those features in a stiff, walkable design, but the fabric eyelets don’t allow the wire to slide through without extra tightening sessions.
Buy Now: Available from Backcountry.com