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.