I am, first and foremost, an alpine climber. When I started mountain biking years ago, I did what many climbers do, and I rode my bike wearing approach shoes. It worked surprisingly well. The sticky rubber of approach shoes agreed with platform pedals. But you know what’s so, so much better than approach shoes for mountain biking? The Giro Latch. It turns out wearing a shoe specifically for mountain biking reaps a whole lot of benefits, and the Giro Latch absolutely knocks it out of the park with their design.
Giro Latch Mountain Bike Shoe Features:
- Optimized contact patch between sole and pedal
- Tack Rubber for outstanding grip and durability
- Mute Foam midsole engineered to cut chatter
- Fast-drying microfiber upper for comfort
- MSRP: $150
Everything You Want For Platforms
I ride a hardtail almost exclusively, so chatter-dampening and solid grip are my top priorities in a mountain biking shoe. Beyond that, I live and ride in Bellingham, Washington, the home of rain and muddy trails, so I put a high value on waterproofing and quick-drying materials. To keep me happy on the climbs and descents, I want my shoes to soak up the bumps, not the water, and keep me glued to the pedals whether I’m bouncing down a rooty line or landing a drop in a pool of muck.
Let’s start with the part that everyone cares about, regardless of the climate they live in – grip. The Latch is equipped with Giro’s Tack Rubber on the soles, and it’s exactly what the pins on my platforms have always wanted. It’s a stiff rubber compound, so it doesn’t wear out super quickly, but it simultaneously has loads of grip in normal temperatures (anything above freezing). During testing, I did notice that grip was diminished slightly when riding in snowy conditions, but the shoes were still grippy enough to be functional.
Aiding the already excellent grip of the shoe’s Tack Rubber is the general profile and stiffness of the Giro Latch. They sit flat on the ground save for a slight rocker at the toe, and they don’t really like to flex. Practically, that means that the shoe sits on pedals with a large, even surface area, and the natural bending and moving of your foot doesn’t translate to bending of the shoe’s sole and reduction of that contact patch. As a result, I find myself losing the pedals significantly less often while wearing the Latch than I did with my prior riding shoes. They just want to stay put. The downside of that sole stiffness is that the shoes don’t walk super comfortably. They really only want to ride. I guess I can accept that.
Another feature that helps keep my feet in place when I’m heading downhill is Giro’s choice of foam. There are many things about this shoe that make it excellent, but as a hardtail rider, this one takes the cake for me. The Latch’s Mute foam dampens chop and chatter to a material degree. On fast and bumpy downlines where my feet used to rattle and hop up and down on the pedals, I now have near-constant contact. It’s game-changing.
Also game-changing: riding in the rain and mud and coming home with dry feet. Giro refers to the Latch’s outer material as a “microfiber upper”, but I don’t think that highlights it enough. The material is tough, but flexible, and it beads water like no shell I’ve ever owned. Not once in over a month of hard rain-riding has it gotten surface saturation, let alone a full soak-through. And in spite of its heavy-duty, water-shirking nature, it breathes decently well too. The toebox perforation allows heat to escape and hasn’t allowed any excess water in throughout the course of my testing.
The shoes have a few other notable characteristics that I think are worth mentioning. For one, they have a little elastic band in the tongue which you can tuck your laces under. It’s a great little convenience feature. For two, they look snazzy. Many cycling shoes look pretty bad, in my opinion, and some harken back to the darkest days of 90’s skate culture, when companies like Osiris were sneaking full-size pillows into the tongues of their kicks. In a market where many biking shoes don’t, the Giro Latch looks really good.
Fit: I ordinarily wear a Euro 44, which is what I tested here. The fit was true to size. I have a slightly wider-than-average forefoot, and found the Latch’s width to be a bit snug, though still comfortable. If you have notably wide forefeet, it might be worth sizing them in-store.
- Rubber soles cling to the pedals
- Stiff, flat profile helps maximize pedal contact
- Foam midsole noticeably dampens trail chatter
- Upper material beads water like a duck
- Durable materials and construction
- Great looks
- Not comfortable for walking more than a short ways
- Rubber is less effective at sub-freezing temperatures
- A little on the pricier side
The Bottom Line: Giro Latch Flat Pedal Shoes
The Giro Latch combines grippy rubber with a stiff, flat profile and impact-absorbing midsoles. The result is a connection with the pedals that I haven’t ever had before. Add to the mix durable materials, excellent water repellency, and good aesthetic, and you have my new favorite riding shoe.
Buy Now: Available at Backcountry.com