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Short version – the Crono CR1 Carbon Road Shoes are by far the most comfortable disco slippers I've ever worn. They're also light, stiff and very easy to get on and off, thanks to twin Boa dials that also make accurate tensioning a breeze. They even look brilliant, if you ask me. They're up there with the best road cycling shoes you can get.
The CR1 sits at the top of Crono's range, and the company rates the sole a 10 for stiffness. Despite the rigidity – thanks to great shaping and the plush but supportive insole – they really are extremely comfortable from the second you put them on. I never felt they were spanking my soles on bad roads, or inflexibly letting my heels lift.
The sole is full carbon (so no glass fibre mixed in), and beautifully shaped for obvious mechanical stiffness under your arches; it has two distinct beams here, and flattens off towards the toe.
Up front there's non-replaceable toe bumper and a small vent, and just behind the cleat there's another small vent. You can see just how thick the six-layer carbon is through these – it's a substantial 2mm.
These vents, along with the laser-cut holes in the sides, give a reasonable amount of airflow, if not masses. While the test period was cool to mild rather than baking, the various holes let in neither enough spray nor cold air to cause comfort issues with any great rapidity. I'd say they'd be fine, if not super-breezy, on hot summer days.
Inside, the footbed is not just flat. There's some arch support (presumably not that much – I have very flat feet but these don't dig in) and an overall mix of curves that really are extremely welcoming if you're a foot. Possibly this is part of the 'SAS' shock absorption system... Crono doesn't actually say what that is. But these are good at damping out vibes. On rough tarmac, there was noticeably more buzz coming through the saddle and bar than through the CR1s.
There's no traditional tongue in these. Instead, one side wraps over your foot and the other wraps over that, and the resulting toe-burrito is both very easy to get in or out of (unlike some shoes, or indeed some burritos) and very easy to adjust. The front Li2 dial does the whole forefoot, and the top one does the broad closure. Both dials micro-adjust a click at a time in either direction, or pull up to completely release.
While the foothole – hang on, I should make sure that's the official technical term... yes, that checks out – while the foothole looks pretty big, once tightened these prove very secure. The heel has a nice deep cup to it, and the 'anti-slip' lining manages to be rough to the touch yet soft at the same time; it works really well.
Be aware that Crono has gone rogue and makes these shoes the size they should be according to the number on them. Weird, huh? Given that road shoe sizes are typically as random as lottery numbers, that's a surprise. I almost always need to wear a size larger than my 'street' shoes, and ended up having to swap the test pair for a replacement in my actual size (the weight given is for the size 45s).
At £223.20 (that's a permanent discount by the sole UK importer, Merlin Cycles, so we're taking it as the effective rrp) these are hardly cheap, but you can pay considerably more for much the same thing. The Specialized S-Works Torch road shoes are £385 and only 87g lighter, even in the scale-model-like size 7 Liam tested. Also, they don't even have pull-to-release dials. On the other hand, the dials are metal and do look like they're off a 1970s TV set, so there's that.
The Fizik Tempo Decos Carbon Wides Matt tested (read his review here) are lighter at 446g (albeit in a similarly childlike size 7), but the insole is basic, adjustment is limited and the price is higher. They're £274.99.
The Udog Cima Pure Blacks are a very close competitor, though, at £220 and 586g. They have knitted uppers, too, if you prefer that.
As I said, these are the most comfortable road shoes I've ever worn, but at the same time they're very stiff for excellent efficiency and very easy to slip in and out of – nobody likes to faff around getting shoes on and off, after all. These, in a nutshell, are great.
Extremely comfortable yet very stiff road shoes – these are lovely
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Crono CR1 Carbon Road Shoes
Size tested: 44
Tell us what the product is for:
Crono says: "CRONO CR1 is the super light carbon bike shoe that combines performance with very high comfort. The 6-layer woven carbon sole ensures that you transmit every single watt of power to the pedals. Its thoughtful details such as the anti-slip lining and the laser-designed side vents for ventilation, combined with an exclusive closure technology make this CR1 our top of the range. The now unmistakable and reliable Multi Contact Closure System, developed in the CRONO research and development department, allows an incredibly enveloping closure, distributing the pressure on 8 points, eliminating the annoyance of the front tab. Two BOA Li2 with coated steel cable (replaceable), allow you to achieve direct contact with the shoe. BOA® Fit System offers high adjustment comfort for a quick fit, even when taking off the shoe.
"The now unmistakable and reliable MULTI CONTACT SYSTEM unlike traditional systems on the market, allows the traction of the first closing band of the shoe distributed on 2 CARRIERS. This allows the shoe to adapt much better to the different morphologies of the feet and also by working with a closure line on the direction of the heel angle it avoids lifting during pedaling. You will transmit all your power to the sole made up of 6 levels of woven carbon. All this without losing anything in comfort. Boost your race!"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
NO TONGUE MORE COMFORT
SHOCK ABSORPTION SYSTEM
HIGHT VENTILATION SYSTEM
LASER AERATION SYSTEM
FULL CARBON SOLE
Li2 BOA Fit System
FULL CARBON / CARBOCOMP
Crono Shock Absorbing Insoles
These are actually accurate to their UK street equivalents, which threw me as I typically need to size up.
For me these are just incredibly comfortable.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Being white these inevitably show crank rub and dirt rapidly, but the black or lovely 'blue metal' versions would deal with that better.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Extremely well - they're stiff, light, secure and (for me at least) just incredibly comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort, easy adjustment and stylish looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Quality doesn't come cheap...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £223.20 these are hardly cheap, but you can pay considerably more for much the same thing. The Specialized S-Works Torch road shoes are £385 and only 87g lighter, even in the scale-model-like size 7 we tested there. And they don't even have pull-to-release dials.
The Fizik Tempo Decos Carbon Wides are lighter at 446g (albeit in a similarly childlike size 7), but the insole is basic, adjustment is limited and the price is higher – they're £274.99.
The Udog Cima Pure Blacks are very similar, though, at £220 and 586g. They have knitted uppers, too, if you prefer that.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These do everything you could want – transfer power, keep you comfy and look good. They're excellent.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,