Review: Giro’s Privateer Mountain Bike Shoes – Why Spend More?

With cycling equipment and apparel constantly pushing the price envelope upward, it’s really nice to come across a reasonably-priced piece of gear that gives up virtually nothing to pricier options.  Aimed at the non-sponsored, working rider (in other words, most of us), Giro’s appropriately-named Privateer aims to be just such a shoe.  Available in boy racer/ Imperial Stormtrooper white or a baggy shorts/introvert black, can the $150 Privateer hang with pricier options?  Step on through to find out!

Out of the box, the Privateers are an impressive shoe. There’s a bit of unkempt fabric peeking out from behind the top strap (which has never worsened), but the overall construction (breathable synthetic upper, DuPont Zytel plastic outsole) is impressive. The Giros run well on the small end of things: though I ride a Specialized 43 and Shimano 43.5, it took a Giro 44 for my low-volume feet to be comfortable. If they’re available, purchasing locally would be a good idea.  For bigfeet (bigfoots?), Giro also make the high volume Privateer HV.

Despite nearly a year’s regular use, the Privateers have held up remarkably well.  No unusual scuffing or tread wear and a quick spin in the washing machine leaves the white uppers looking fresh.  The oddly satisfying ratchet action is marginally less clicky than when new- but still much more positive than anyone else’s.

While the Zytel midsole isn’t quite as stiff as some carbon-soled sub-$200 shoes’, it’s proved perfectly comfortable and plenty stiff for several hours on anything but the singlespeed.  The heel cup is plenty deep for occasional hikes and scrambles, something for which the tough uppers are also well suited.  The tread isn’t super-grippy, but has worn very well and done a good job at keeping Eggbeater retention bars from digging into the Zytel.  Rubber coverage between the forefoot and heel tread provides a bit of backup for botched clip-ins.

On the shelf next to shoes costing more than twice as much, I find myself regularly grabbing the Privateers thanks to their excellent fit, solid performance, and good looks.  Though heavier riders and hardcore singlespeed riders may want to invest a bit more to get a stiffer sole, the Giros are everything most anyone really needs.  For everything from the morning commute to the weekly night ride, from ‘cross season to high-country epics, the Privateers are a great choice.

marc

giro.com

Comments

Cram - 12/24/12 - 12:43pm

I have been riding in the black Privateers for several months. As a bike mechanic, $400 shoes are out of my pay range even with bro-deals. The Privateers are every bit as comfortable as the older Sidis they replaced and seem to be wearing well. A pair of the metal Crank Bros shoe shields under the cleat is a very worthy addition in terms of pedal feel and avoiding some discomfort on the single speed.

anon - 12/24/12 - 2:05pm

I have the step up from this model. Basically the guy that helped specialized with their shoes also did these for giro. So the fit and form is dead on with specialized. They are great, stiff, and light. The only and i mean only draw back of these shoes is the tongue. Ask anyone that works in a bike shop. The biggest complaint they get over and over is the padding on the tongue does not go all the way across. It’s there just down the middle. Where this cuts off and just becomes an un-padded leather tongue is where the issue is. It creates a pressure point that drives most people nuts. Most of our returns on these shoes are from the tongue. other than that they are perfect.

TJ - 12/24/12 - 8:27pm

These are amazing shoes! I’ve had them since spring. Many races this summer and fat-bike adventures with sand and water. Still look brand new! Love these SHOES!

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