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The new Liv Macha Pro was released earlier this year, along with Giant's new Surge Pro. The sole has been significantly refined from the model I tested a few years back, but the shoe remains light and stiff. There's no questioning the performance pedigree of either: Simon Yates won the final stage of Paris-Nice wearing Giant Surge Pros, and Rachele Barbieri has ridden to several UCI podiums and a track title wearing Macha Pros this year. They really are among the best road cycling shoes out there – although their £300 price tag means you'll want them to fit perfectly to justify the investment.
Without a shadow of doubt, these are the stiffest shoes I've ever tested. The ExoBeam sole – 'a dual-beam plate made with 100% ultralight carbon fiber', in Liv's words – delivers a zero-flex platform. When you sprint or climb standing up out of the saddle you really sense the superior performance; it's easy to see why the pro peloton sprinters have warmed to them.
The sole of the previous model was uniquely shaped, effectively missing a solid platform under the arch. Negative feedback on this design led to a more conventional shape, with a very hardwearing (but equally grippy) heel pad and toe cap.
Not only is the sole stiff, but the wraparound upper is also noticeably stiffer than many road shoes I've tested, including the most recent, Giro's Regimes. It hasn't led to any discomfort, though; rather, it envelops the foot and adds to that superior performance feel as it anchors the foot well.
Unusually, the two micro-adjustable Boa Li2 dials work with what Liv calls an 'ExoWrap' inside the shoe, to wrap the foot and pull it upwards into the shoe rather than downwards, as is the case with most cycling shoes. The ExoWrap is basically a tongue that sits on the arch-side of the shoe and has the Boa laces integrated into it, so when you tighten the dials, the tongue gets pulled up and around the arch.
The heel cup is sufficiently padded to avoid pinching, and its sharkskin lining eliminates slipping; the foot is anchored and secure when you start to ride aggressively.
The upper is covered in polyurethane, with welded front-facing seams to give a clean, aerodynamic finish, and laser-cut micro-perforations decent breathability. I've never noticed my foot overheating, though I was testing in temperatures only up to about 22°C. Conversely, I didn't feel the need for an extra layer on cool mornings nearing 5°C.
As with the previous Macha Pros, there are two levels of arch insert, high and low, which attach to the insole ('sock liner'), which also has a TransTextura Plus antimicrobial layer.
The Li2 Boa dials are combined here with Dyneema lacing, a fibre boasting an impressive list of claimed qualities: 'ultra high strength versus weight (15 times stronger than steel, on weight per weight ratio)'; 'high resistance to UV radiation'; and 'highly flexible', to name just a few. It's exceptionally flexible, akin to an embroidery thread. There's also a hell of a lot of it here to dial in – releasing the Boa lets a decent length of it out, which has a tendency to wrap around the dial.
Liv's reasoning for this excessive length is: 'We received input from testers that adding more length would allow them to open the shoe to a greater extent for airing out between rides and allow for easier foot insertion.' Liv even went out of the way to send comprehensive instructions on shortening the Dyneema after I'd asked if it was possible.
The Li2 dials are understated, low profile and exceptionally easy to use, even with overshoes. And they micro-adjust both ways. Bont's Vaypors use the same model and in his review Mat reckoned they were as good as dials get.
Any Boa has a lifetime warranty and, from experience, the service these guys offer is second to none.
While I've absolutely fallen in love with the performance capabilities of these shoes, they're not perfect for me as the toe box is a little too angled for my foot, as you can see in the photo below (next to the Giro Regimes). Unusually, there's no pinching across the widest part of my foot, and my big toes sit exactly where I'd want them to – it's my third and fourth toe on my right foot that hit the upper.
While this might seem rather pedantic, and I can't say it's ever become painful, it's not something I'd want if I'd spent £300. So, just as with all shoes, try before you buy because what suits me (or doesn't) won't necessarily apply to you.
A big positive is how easily these shoes wipe clean; nothing more than a damp cloth is required to remove dirt or grease. Only the Boa dial is prone to retaining grit that might need more than a cloth – a toothbrush is ideal here.
I can't not mention the bold styling of this version of the Macha Pros. If you like to coordinate kit you might struggle a little, but if you like to make a statement you'll love them – part of me just wanted to buy a new bike to match them! If you're not convinced, there's also a white version.
Shoes can directly affect power output, and the Macha Pros are undoubtedly pure racing shoes that, if set up correctly, will improve performance on the bike. To me, that justifies the £300 expense, providing they fit well.
They even look a bargain compared with some: Specialized's S-Works Torches (Liam rated the men's version) will set you back £385.
Overall, if these Macha Pros are right for your feet and you can afford them, you'll have a superb performance-orientated shoe.
Stylish, stiff and light... if they fit, you've got a hell of a shoe
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Liv Macha Pro Shoes
Size tested: 42
Tell us what the product is for
From Liv's website: The new Macha Pro helps you get the most out of every pedal stroke, whether you're out on a training ride or in a mid-race sprint.
Anchored by the power of technology, the Macha Pro puts the Motion Efficiency System to work for you. These performance-level racing shoes are lightweight and efficient, and the stylish design comes in two colorways.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Liv lists these features:
100% long-fiber carbon ExoBeam plate with all-new dual beam design, offers secure mid-foot contact for better power transmission
ExoBeam technology reduces strain on the knee and ankle joints
All-new 360° ultra-lightweight, wrap-around upper with high frequency welded seams offers optimal support
All-new internal, direct pull ExoWrap structure design with all-new dedicated Boa® Li2 dial produces a 360° foot enclosure for customizable arch fit and support
Laser cut micro-perforations in the upper for improved ventilation
Cycling-specific performance last enhances overall performance
SharkSkin heel lining
Removable sockliner with tunable arch support and TransTextura Plus™ layer
Excellent heel and toe cap. Despite feeling less robust than conventional Boa cabling, Dyneema is known for being durable.
For me, it wasn't 'spot on'. As with all shoes, this will be very personal.
Didn't pinch at a place that many shoes do, across the widest part of the foot, and I never experienced hotspots during longer rides.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Exceptionally easy to wipe clean.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Impressive power transfer from a rigid sole and a stiff upper, with marginal weight gains.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Really didn't feel like there was any power loss at all; it's a serious racing shoe that is stylish too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Tapering at the toe is too aggressive for my foot shape.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Despite these being pricey, there are more expensive options – Specialized's highest specced model is £385. We haven't reviewed a huge number of women's premium shoes, but there are most definitely cheaper options – Giro's Regimes (£229.99) or Fizik's Tempo Overcurves (£214.99), for example. The latter comes in a wide and standard version.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? The fit wasn't quite right for me, to justify the spend.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The fit wasn't perfect for me, but this is an outstanding shoe in all aspects.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…