Coming in at £280 Gaerne's Carbon G.Stilo road shoes are certainly at the pricey end of the scale, but I would argue that their performance and quality justifies their cost.
The most important aspect of these shoes is their weight compared to stiffness and fit. At 566g for the pair, they are comparable to others in this price range, but could perhaps be lighter if you compare to some.
This is however not telling the entire story of the shoes, which offer far more than just weight advantage. For shoes that are this light, they have a phenomenal level of stiffness in the soles. This comes from the impressive carbon makeup that manages to maintain strength without making them too thick, so there is good feedback through the pedals, but without allowing you to feel too much road buzz.
The twin Boa dial closure is another impressive aspect of the design, supplemented by a single velcro strap at the toe. The twin Boa system is one of the best I have used, because it is so simple to operate and allows for big variation in tension without affecting the fit. I could tighten them so much that they cut of the circulation or leave them relatively loose, without ever feeling that they had excessive movement.
The Boa system provides really find tension adjustability though its dials, which pull nylon-coated steel cables. To tighten or loosen the cables, you simply turn the dials clockwise or counterclockwise. In order to take the shoes off, you pull the dials upwards to release the tension completely. The simplicity of adjustment without losing all tension meant that I even managed to change the tension of the shoes while freewheeling, which I haven't been able to do with any other shoes before.
Also saving weight and maintaining stiffness, is the full carbon heel cup. I put some huge loads through the shoes on steep climbs and sprints and I did not find significant flex at all, regardless of what I threw at them.
The uppers are supple and flexible, so the fit is comfortable around your feet. One of the few drawbacks of the shoes is that unlike many others in this price range, they do not have heat mouldable uppers that allow them to be truly moulded to your feet. The suppleness means that this is not a huge issue, but it would certainly have been nice to have it included.
Within the uppers is an impressive ventilation system. There is a mesh area across the centre at the top of the toes that allows for a really good air flow. This is further increased through the double vents in the bottom of the shoe and the multiple perforations throughout the sides. I was very impressed with this and had no discomfort even after being in the saddle with them for hours, in fact you can really feel the air flowing through them when riding hard.
This breathability combined with the considerable amount of customisation of fit through the Boa system made these some of the most comfortable shoes I have worn. Adding to this is an unconventional tongue that contours to the shoe, so that it sits lower on the outside of the foot compared to the inner. I initially thought that this was a bit of a gimmick to give the shoes a sleeker look, but the reality is that they settle well on the foot and provide a good grounding for a comfortable fit, especially when you can put a considerable amount of tension through the Boa system if required.
At this price, I sometimes worry that the materials have been created to perform, but without taking longevity into account. This is certainly not the case with the Stilos; they are impressive durable and you can replace the heel risers they wear down.
The only thing I didn't like about these shoes was the colour of the samples. Orange and green is certainly not going to be to everybody's taste and could be described as garish. The overall shape of the shoe, is stunning, with sweeping lines and a very Italian style throughout, making the white or black versions genuinely dream shoes. Although I have grown more accustomed to this colour, I would still elect for the more understated options if given a choice.
Overall, I have been very impressed with the Stilos. They manage to bring together very impressive stiffness, sleek design, great ventilation and their strongest feature, the Boa closure. At £280 you would expect to have a dream shoe and although they're not absolutely perfect, a different colour and a heat moulding option would make these contenders for that title.
Great lightweight shoes; comfortable, very stiff and with excellent twin-Boa closure
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Make and model: Gaerne Carbon G.Stilo Orange road shoes
Size tested: 43
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
'The new full carbon sole 'GAERNE EPS LIGHT WEIGHT FULL CARBON SOLE' guarantees absolute lightness and rigidity.'
As far as lightness and rigidity these certainly do not fail to impress. The Boa system also means that they combine both of these aspects of the shoe with mightily impressive fitting that keeps everything firmly in place whilst also allowing for micro adjustment when needed.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
UPPER: The extremely supple uppers are made of microfibre (feels like soft leather, is breathable and easy to clean), laser-cut perforations and mesh inserts at the sides ensure a pleasant foot climate.
AIR VENTILATION: The AIR VENTILATION system offers outstanding breathability and a perfect climate for your feet.
CLOSURE SYSTEM: BOA IP-1®
COMFORT FIT TONGUE: The shoe's tongue covers the instep and is perforated for a better ventilation. Thanks to a soft padding on the inside of the tongue, it offers unique comfort.
HIGH COMFORT insole: The new "HIGH COMFORT INSOLE" is extremely light, exchangeable and offers great comfort and breathability.
CARBON HEEL CUP: Improved, anatomic heel cup made of non-formable plastic. The anti-slip heel cup provides a secure hold and support for the achilles tendon. At the back, reflective inserts provide a better visibility in bad lighting conditions. Integrated vents improve temperature regulation.
U CONTROL HEEL SYSTEM: An exclusive control system for your heels - guarantees a correct position while riding.
EPS LIGHT FULL CARBON sole: The new full carbon sole guarantees absolute lightness and stiffness. The ultra-thin design allows for a minimum distance between foot and pedal - maximum power transfer without energy loss. Two ventilation channels inside the sole ensure perfect ventilation of the foot while riding. Anti-slip rubber inserts on front and back offer safety when walking. The rear one can be replaced. The sole is comptable with LOOK-, SPD-SL, Speedplay-, Keo- and Time Impact pedals.
BOA IP-1® closure system:
The new BOA IP-1 twist closure has three functions: To close the right shoe, the closure is turned in the direction of travel; to loose the closure, the other direction is used. For the left shoe, it is exactly the other way around so that you always have to turn the closure in the direction of travel for closing, and in the other direction for loosening. To fully open the closure, you have to pull it to the top. Thanks to the independet positioning of the closure slightly to the side, you get a closure system that avoids pressure marks on the foot.
Upper was impressively supple while sole remains stiff even under high load. The thought of having the tongue placed at a slight angle is also a nice touch and they are looking at longevity as they have made the rear supports replaceable.
Very stiff, light and fantastic fitting. Everything you would expect from a £280 shoe.
Strong stitching with upper seamlessly fitting into the sole, can imagine these outlast the pedals on most bikes.
Purely on weight alone, there are slightly lighter shoes at this price point. However, when you take the double dial fitting system into account, the extra 10-20g are well worth it.
Very comfortable, angled tongue combined with micro adjustable tensioning makes for shoes that can be made comfortable for almost anybody.
Full carbon sole with, in my opinion, the best fitting system means that they are good value. Lose marks slightly as they lack the heat mouldable aspects that others in this price range possess.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, used for climbing, sprinting, wet weather, dry weather and they performed admirably. The orange design also acted as a bit of a safety feature as they are so bright that they are hard to miss.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fitting system is easily the best I have used, the ability to adjust whilst freewheeling is fantastic.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Only minor gripe is the colour I tested and the lack of heat moulding. The black or white versions are genuine dream shoe contenders.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 27 Height: 6 ft Weight:
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
George spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.