First Impressions: A month with Vittoria’s Supra MTB shoes
At Interbike this fall, we had the chance to sit down with Michael from Vittoria USA to learn more about the company- and their shoes. A separate company from the other Vittoria (which makes tires), Vittoria was founded in 1976 by a Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana, and Giro d’Italia veteran. 35 years later, their shoes have been worn to victory by Sean Kelly, Maurizio Fondriest, Marco Pantani, Paola Pezzo, and Thor Hushovd.
With all of their shoes (starting under $100) still made in Italy, Vittoria’s manufacturing flexibility is a big part of their current story. While the company produces 81 stock model/color combinations in 27 sizes, three non-standard widths are available in addition to their standard width at no charge- and different-sized pairs are available for a nominal upcharge. Want mountain uppers on road soles? No problem. Want carbon-soled, mountain-treaded shoes with uppers from the company’s stylish 1976 line? You bet. All this in 2-3 weeks from order to your local bike shop.
Given my low-volume feet, I was excited to exercise Vittoria’s system and order my first-ever ‘made for me’
cycling shoes. I placed an order for a pair of the company’s range-topping Supra mountain shoe in the “low volume” fit with a stiff-but-walkable CNS Carbon Heart sole. In white. Just under three weeks later, the Vittorias arrived. Hit the jump to see how things are going…
Though Vittoria do use a steel-cabled Rotor system on their higher-end road shoes, for the Supra MTBs they prefer the simplicity of two Velcro straps and a single Micro Closure ratchet. Also available in black/red, the Supra MTB typically is built with the super-stiff MTB Dual Carbon sole ($350) or the MTB Carbon Heart sole ($300), which has a bit of forefoot flex for the walks that are an inevitable part of big days in the mountains or for cyclocross use. The solidly-built ratchet (covered as part of the shoes’ lifetime warranty) has an aluminum lever that shields the red release button from accidental adjustment. The assembly can be mounted to any one of three mounting points and a dense pad can be adjusted side-to-side on the ratchet strap to sit comfortably.
Despite being low-volume shoes, I bottomed out the ratchet in its central position and so went to move it to its lowest spot. Unfortunately, Vittoria has had a handful of un-threaded anchors slip past final inspection- and two of them in to our sample shoes. Happily, they were easy to rearrange and Vittoria has replacements to send out, along with their apologies. With Micro Closure in the lowest position and some custom Footbalance insoles in place (look for a review soon), I was looking good and ready to ride.
The shoes’ toe is reinforced with nubbly Pebax polyurethane to help fend off rock damage. Despite a shiny appearance when new, the CNS Carbon Heart soles’ silver tread is fairly grippy on rocks and the sole itself is as good a balance as I’ve found between all-day riding stiffness and off-bike walkability. Though the molded plastic heel cup is almost a throwback, the shiny embossed Microfiber Tech fabric gives the Supras a futuristic, undeniably Italian look. In fact, the Vittorias have attracted more compliments than anything else I’ve ridden lately. It must be the molded rubber tricolor at the heel.
After a couple of weeks’ riding, the Supras have broken in to become some of my most comfortable riding shoes- and completely displacing my old favorites. The white finish is suffering most where my duck feet rub the cranks, where it has taken on an aluminum sheen and there’s a small rock gouge just beyond the Pebax reinforcement on one foot. At least people will know that I actually ride. My only real complaint so far (choosing white mountain shoes was my own fault- and I still love the look) is the Micro Closure’s release: well protected from rocks and sticks, it’s also difficult to release when taking the shoes off (let alone while riding). At 460g apiece (920g actual for the pair, size 43.5), the Vittorias won’t break any weight records but do seem built for the long haul. I’ll be back this spring with a final verdict…