With a light structure, lots of ventilation and a twin-dial Boa closure that's rare at this price, the Louis Garneau Course 2LS shoes are a pro-quality shoe without serious sticker shock.
The Course shoes are are strikingly similar in appearance to Specialized S-Works shoes of old, although to be fair, creating a shoe with a Boa system is going to draw the same design to an extent.
I found the fit to be similar to that of a Specialized shoe too, with a fairly wide mid-sole and low cut ankle section. I'm a SIDI man by choice and found the Garneau to be a little more lofty around the main body of the foot with less shape to it. The 44 was a margin shorter than I'm used to in SIDI sizing but overall the fit was sound and comfortable, as you'd expect from a premium shoe. I'd say it's the kind of fit most people will get on with, being a more relaxed fit.
Breathability is the main selling point of these shoes; they're well supplied with ventilation throughout. Because the Boa system doesn't involve any big slabs of Velcro or plastic buckles, the tongue section - and majority of surface area being hit by wind - can allow for airflow, and 2LS have a large microfibre mesh section here. The mesh is layered with padding behind so water isn't going to gush in during a shower. It works well paired with the standard toe vents, in freshening the foot.
The toe and tongue vents are the least of the 2LS's airflow credentials however. The star of the shoe is the channelled venting system, designed into the carbon sole: ExO-Jet. Air is drawn through a hole at the front of the sole, down a channel below of ball of the foot, across the foot arch and then exhausted out the rear. A heavily perforated insole allows the air to really circulate around the foot and is infused with Xylitol, which along with being a sweatener, apparently reacts with sweat and cools the foot.
It's hard to quantitatively comment on the Xylitol but the shoe is certainly airy. It isn't unheard of to have large vents in the sole of shoes but with the combination of channelling and insole, Garnaeu have executed it well, preventing sweaty feet. The shoes are so airy that it might even be too much for UK weather most of the year.
Thankfully, Garnaeu thought of this and include a red, solid insole, that blocks the flow through the bottom of the shoe. The insoles have a certain amount of form to them; supporting an arch slightly but largely neutral. You can of course use your own insole if you require more support but you're going to loose the cooling features.
Plenty of air circulating through the shoe makes the shoe airy in one sense, but with a total weight of 550g a pair (size 44) they are pretty light too.
The majority of the weight saving is the two-dial Boa system which does away with heavy ratchet and straps. A thin yet stiff carbon outsole helps drop the grams too. An added benefit of a thin outsole is that your foot is closer to the pedal, providing better power transfer and a more natural pedalling feel.
The Boa system has been around for a while now and its makers seem to have ironed out any reliability issues that existed a few years ago. This is my first pair of shoes to use the system and I have been impressed by the usability of it.
Two wires are laced through the tongue and tightened by a couple of ratcheted dials. Rather than a ratchet and strap, the level of modulation is high so the perfect tension can be easily achieved.
It's very easy to tighten or loosen on the bike. To loosen, one simply pulls up on the dial, which frees the pulley from the ratchet.
We had the black colour on test with red pin stripe. They are relatively understated but I think they're stylish, and there's also a white option.
The material itself is a synthetic leather, which is well padded and comfortable. The heel features a few reflective strips to aid rear visibility in low light and on the inside, features a Lycra panel that acts as a gripper.
I found my foot was held confidently enough by the Boa system to stop my heel pulling up, but perhaps the Lycra was contributing.
The Louis Garneau Course 2LSs are impressive shoes but at £219.99 they should be. Saying that, upwards of £250 and beyond isn't unheard of for a top flight set of cycling shoes, with Boa fastening and full carbon sole. The competition includes the Specialized S-Works (£240), Sidi Wire (£300+), and DMT Prisma 2.0 (£235), and in that company they could be seen as relatively cheap, and unique to boot. If you suffer from hot feet, are in the market for a premium level cycling shoe and want to step out of the herd (or just save a bit of cash), I can recommend Garneau's Course 2LS.
Very light, stiff-soled shoe with loads of ventilation and excellent twin-dial Boa closure.
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Make and model: Garneau Course 2LS shoes
Size tested: Size 44
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 Course 2LS perfects fit, increases comfort, reduces weight, improves power transfer, operates fast, and provides long-lasting durability.'
Not messing around then! It's a premium road shoe for an enthusiast.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Exo-Jet Carbon outsole with patented multivent system: Designed to increase stiffness and provide excellent toe-to-heel airflow
Stretchy anti-slip unidirectional spandex: Provides a good support and prevents heel lift
HRS-300 reinforced injected nylon: Secures the heel in place, optimizes fit, and reduces loss of power from slippage
BOA L5 double rail quick attachment system: Quick attach, distributed pressure and ultralight
Microfiber and mesh upper: Provides better support through a rigid upper
Polyurethane spandex inside heel cup: Enhances heel support
Ice Fil Ergo Air Cool Stuff blue double density EVA and Hot Stuff red antibacterial insoles: Patented system for riding in all weather conditions
Heel reflector: Improves visibility
Cleat position indicator compatible with SPD-SL, TIME, LOOK and SPEEDPLAY cleats
Shoe bag included
Approximate weight (size 42/1 shoe): 240 g/8.6 oz
Ergo air insoles interchangeable
Good finish overall and looks the part. Let down by a few slightly rounded allen bolts holding the heel grip on.
Comfortable, breathable, good closure.
I had no problems during the test and the Boa doesn't feel delicate at all.
A light pair of shoes.
What a would call a neutral fit. My foot could do with more support but it's a comfortable fit none the less.
At first glance £220 is a lot to spend on a pair of shoes. Next to it's competition though, these present good value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A solid pair of high end cycling shoes. Their main selling point - ventilation - hit the mark.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The Boa retention system.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A bit wide midsole for my foot.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 23 Height: 184cm Weight: 66kg
I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,