A few years back, a friend of mine gave me a hard time for not telling him one of the industry’s best-kept secrets. At first I didn’t know what he was talking about, but then he blurted it out. “You never told me to buy carbon-soled shoes!!!” So, I’m airing it out now — carbon-soled shoes are the only choice for serious cyclists and the new Louis Garneau Carbon LS-100 might just offer the best bang-for-the-buck.
Garneau Carbon LS-100 Features
- Carbon Composite HM Air-Lite outsole: Ultralight and rigid for better power transfer and through-and-through ventilation
- Adjustable cleats: Cleats can be moved 7 mm back and forth
- 4.3 mm CARBON platform: Closer to the pedal for even more power
- Replaceable low-profile rear heel pad
- HRS-100 with 0.6 mm membrane: Maintains heel positioning and reduces loss of power from slippage
- BOA L4 single rail quick attach system and forefoot velcro closure: Quick attach, distributed pressure and ultra light
- Synthetic leather and cycling mesh upper: Provides comfort, good support and is breathable
- Interchangeable COOLMAX® Ergo Air® Cool Stuff blue and Hot Stuff red insoles : Patented ventilation system
- Heel reflector : Improves visibility
- Cleat position indicator compatible with SPD-SL, SPD, TIME, LOOK and SPEEDPLAY cleats
- Approximate weight (size 42/1 shoe) : 235 g/8.29 oz
- MSRP: $199
The LS-100’s are feature-packed
So, yes… one of the best upgrades is not on your bike, but is instead your shoes. Stiff, carbon soles will change your life — believe me. All that extra power transfer over the course of a 3000-ft mountain climb will save energy and increase efficiency. Toss those old, umm non-carbon shoes and step up to the feature-packed Garneau LS-100 shoes.
Velcro is imprecise and wears out and ratchets are also imprecise due to the large teeth steps necessary for proper engagement. Enter the much-heralded Boa Lacing System. With one twist of the knob, the shoes incrementally tighten to perfection with pressure spread evenly across the whole foot — instead of just one area. I’ve exclusively used Boa closures in my road and mountain bike shoes (Specialized S-Works Road and S-Works EVO Mountain) for many years and have a hard time imagining going to anything else — it is pretty much as good as sliced bread.
That said, not all Boa closures are created equal. These are the standard variety that ratchet closed, but requires a pull up to loosen. That means that tightening up the LS-100 is easy and precise, but loosening is also easy, but not very precise. Popping up the dial results in a dramatic loosening, primarily intended for shoe removal. That said, it does make for easy removal at the end of the ride, nonetheless, micro tweaks mid-ride are challenging. With that in mind, I tended to keep the shoes a little loose from the start and tightened them up on-the-fly, if absolutely necessary. Still, I’d take the standard Boa over any other closure system.
Carbon soles and Boa are a dynamic duo
The carbon soles aboard the LS-100’s is every bit as stiff and responsive as even the most expensive road shoes I’ve tried. Installing a set of Speedplay cleats is easily done and have stayed put just fine. I’m most certainly not losing any efficiency due to outsole flex — these are solid and transfer as much energy as possible to the pedals. Also noteworthy is the high amount of ventilation that’s built into the sole for cooling. The air movement can be felt, particularly when used with the included Coolmax Ergo Air insoles.
These are a wide shoe in the forefoot, so keep that in mind for fit. My narrow foot has a fair amount of space on the outside of the shoe. For racing, it may be preferred to have a more snug fit, but I’m OK with the room in the shoe and like the ability to vary the sock thickness based on weather.
I’ve been testing the white shoes, which are great for added visibility and style on the road, but they do tend to get scuffed — particularly the toe box. Aside from that, the uppermost cable guide on the tongue of the left shoe was mis-stitched by about 4mm and the pokey plastic dug into my foot. I just slapped some electrical tape on there to cover it as a simple solution.
As with any shoe, you’ll customize the fit to your foot shape and preference. I ended up settling in on a pair of Specialized BodyGeometry ++ insoles with forefoot shims. A trip to the bike fitter will ultimately guide the tweaking you’ll do and perhaps the included insoles (comes with winter and summer insoles) will suit your feet perfectly.
- Excellent price for carbon soles and Boa closure
- Good breathability during hot rides
- Comfortable fit — especially with Boa
- Carbon soles are ultra-stiff
- Pull tab (center image above) makes removal a breeze
- White color gets dirty
- Plastic cable guide in left tongue stuck out and dug into my foot (placed tape on it as a simple solution)
The Bottom Line: Garneau LS-100
You absolutely can’t beat the price of the LS-100’s and they are no slouches when it comes to eking out every last watt of energy on the bike. The Boa lacing system is also untouchable at this price. I’m not sure how Garneau has done it, but this shoe is really hard to beat.
Buy Now: Available at CompetitiveCyclist.com
What about pedals/cleats for this shoe?
Any standard 3-hole road cleats and pedals will do. I use Speedplay Zero pedals.