Le Col's Pro Carbon Road Shoes are the company's first attempt at bringing a pair of race shoes to its lineup and if these are anything to go by then it should keep going: they're impressively stiff with a great shape and a soft, supple upper. The only potential drawback is that they are currently only available in sizes 43, 44 and 45.
- Pros: Great stiffness without any harshness, excellent choice of upper material
- Cons: Limited sizes in this original batch
Yanto Barker, ex-pro and the man behind clothing brand Le Col, says on the website, 'Your shoes are not only the principle point of contact with your bike, but some of the most personal items in a cyclist's kit. Stylish, well made shoes have been something I've always sought after, and knowing what's needed, I decided we would make our own.'
While for some riders, function over form is the way to go, I know, especially on a warm sunny day when you've got your best bike out and your favourite kit on, watching a pair of bling cycling shoes turning the pedals over is a thing of beauty.
These Pro Carbon models offer exactly that.
For the upper, Le Col has specced a PU leather which is very supple, and when you tighten the retention system (we'll get to that in a minute) the material pulls taut and wraps itself around your foot without rucking and creasing like I thought it would, especially with its shiny surface.
They are so comfortable it is unbelievable, and thanks to the well-padded tongue there are no tension points or hot spots.
That surface is easy to wipe clean, too, which meant even after having to ride these shoes in the wet they always came up clean at home.
Breathability is good thanks to quite large venting holes down the sides of the shoe and covering the tongue, aided by mesh vents at the toe box. There are also a couple of vents under the toes in the sole.
Le Col has gone with a dial and cable system for tightening the shoes made by Atop, which are similar to the more commonly seen Boa dials. They are simple to use: just twist them towards the front of the shoe to tighten and back the other way to loosen. Tightening is done by micro-adjustments, so as they settle in over the start of a ride it is easy to just give them a tweak to tighten them on the fly.
There is no similar micro-adjustment to loosen them, so if they are too tight you have to knock off the tension and start again, but that rarely happens.
Using these cable systems, you end up with even tension right the way across the top of the foot, although I found the single Boa system on the Bontrager Ballista shoes (review to come) to offer a more balanced feeling.
Inside the shoe, the Pro Carbons have a grippy material around the sides and heels. We see it on a lot of top-end shoes, often called Shark Skin or Cat's Tongue or whatever, but usually it's only found in the heel cup. Having it throughout the inside of the shoe means your foot doesn't move at all, but without feeling like it is restricted.
As you'd expect on a pair of shoes at this price, the Le Cols have a full carbon fibre sole. It's a uni-directional setup, meaning all the fibres running in one direction, and it is stiff, very stiff but without being harsh. Some super-stiff shoes can transfer road buzz from the pedals through to your feet and create hot spots, but no such issues here.
The sole is designed for three-hole cleat systems and there are enough markings for fore and aft and rotation to get things lined up correctly.
Front and rear, you get rubber bumpers to protect the soles when walking, plus should you enter a shop or café with a tiled floor there is less chance of you ending up on your backside.
The overall quality here is exceptional, with all of the stitching neat and tidy, and although a lot of brands are using one-piece uppers or bonding sections together to avoid seams, the Le Cols have quite a retro classic look going on.
They are very light too, at just 506g for a pair of EUR 45s.
So, let's talk money.
According to Le Col's website these new shoes are being offered in very small batches in sizes EUR 43, 44 and 45, so we aren't talking mass production here, which makes me think that to be able to deliver this performance and quality for £250 is quite good, especially when compared to the big brands.
I've recently tested the latest version of Shimano's top flight RC9 and they are brilliant in almost every aspect, apart from the massive £319.99 price tag. The Le Cols match them on stiffness, and I'd say their upper is even just a little bit more comfortable – plus you've got 70 quid in your back pocket.
I've also tested the Giant Surge Pro Road Shoes which are £25 more than the Le Cols, but the Giants can't compete on comfort. They are a bit heavier too.
Overall, the Le Col Pro Carbon shoes are top notch, and hopefully they'll soon be available in more sizes. They come with a splash of blue and red too, as well as this all-white version, but again in just the three sizes.
Awesome performance and extreme levels of comfort, if one of the three sizes suits your feet
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Pro Carbon Cycling Shoes
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
Le Col says, "The Le Col Pro Carbon Cycling Shoes are the culmination of years of development and pro insight. Balancing rigidity, weight, and fit, the Pro Carbon road shoes assure the rider of a fantastic transfer of power without compromising on comfort on the bike.
"Built using a Uni Directional Carbon Fibre platform, these shoes remain rigid and un-flexing in the face of your fiercest sprint or out of the saddle effort. Improving efficiency and comfort, this sole promotes better ventilation through an integrated channel, whilst prominent rubber pads protect the sole integrity at the toe and heel areas.
"Incorporating a high-grade PU leather specially contoured to map perfectly with the foot under tension, these shoes offer a supple and supportive feel. Durable and non-stretching, the upper delivers a reliable long-lasting fit. Equipped with targeted mesh vents and micro perforations, this upper retains high levels of breathability.
"Fastened using dual Atop dials tensioning a wire thread, you benefit from an even tension over the top of the foot. Easily adjusted on the move, this system allows you to micrometrically tighten or loosen the shoes, leading to a more personalised feel. Subtly styled and in keeping with a classic professional look, the shoes are predominantly white."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Le Col:
Upper ' Contoured PU leather with integrated breathable mesh
Sole ' Uni Directional Carbon Fibre with integrated air vents
Carbon fibre sole delivers complete transfer of power
Premium PU Leather upper offers a supple feel
Hugely durable upper construction
Integrated ventilation from meshed zones and perforations
Air Control vent in sole for premium thermal exchange
Fastened with Atop dials for enhanced fit
Anti-slip walking pads ideal for coffee stops
Washable EVA insole
Compatible with three bolt road cleats
The EUR 45s are marked up as UK 10/11 and I found them a good fit for my size 10 feet, with a little bit of extra room.
£250 isn't cheap, but they feel as stiff and as comfortable as Shimano's £320 RC9s.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The PU upper wipes clean easily.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Comfortable shoes whether out for a gentle spin or absolutely smashing it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
A brilliant all-round package.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Atop dial system can't loosen in increments.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are well priced against a lot of the competition that offer similar levels of fit and stiffness.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they have size 43-45 feet.
Use this box to explain your overall score
A properly thought out pair of race shoes that not only look good but perform brilliantly.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.