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The Quoc Mono II shoes are light, comfortable and minimalist go-faster slippers with extremely stiff soles. If you're looking for high performance, super-modern kicks, they've got to be on your shortlist.
After a few hundred kilometres in the Mono IIs, they've become my go-to shoes for everything from quick leg-looseners to long days out on the bike. I like their simplicity, comfort and ease of adjustment on the fly, but the sole's stiffness is their best feature; they just don't budge, however hard you stomp on them.
If a very stiff sole isn't well-shaped to your foot it can be quite uncomfortable, but that's not the case here.
The Mono IIs provide consistent support from heel to toe with no voids or pressure points, while the synthetic upper wraps snugly round your foot to keep things in place. The adjustment dials provide fine control over the fit and are very easy to use.
The Mono II shoes are admirably simple. The upper is made from two pieces of microfibre synthetic leather, with hundreds of tiny perforations for ventilation. It's held closed by a pair of ratchet dials, which look like Boa dials, but aren't.
Quoc's Holly Winstone says the company's test riders find 'the adjustment is even easier/more precise than the Boa dials.' They certainly have a very nice light feel (the dials, not the test riders) with a bit less resistance than Boa dials.
Where some shoes have lots of padding and a fabric lining, the Mono IIs put your socks right against the microfibre for most of the shoe. There's padding around the back to help cushion and locate your heel, but that's about it.
Initially this feels a bit odd, but the microfibre Quoc uses is malleable enough that, after a few minutes, it snugs to your feet and you stop noticing.
The sole is uni-directional carbon fibre, so if you're a fan of carbon weave, I'm afraid you're out of luck; it looks like classy matt-black plastic. It's extremely stiff and quite thin (Quoc says it's just 4mm thick); you might have to move your saddle down a couple of millimetres if you're very sensitive to bike position, and you're replacing cheaper shoes with thicker soles.
A small mesh panel under the toes provides a bit of ventilation and acts as a drain if it rains.
The soles have rubber bumpers under the heels and toes to protect them on the walk from bike to cafe counter. The bumpers at the toes are bonded in place, so you won't be able to easily fit new ones when they wear out, but that keeps the weight down.
The rear bumper is held by a cross-head screw accessed from inside the shoe, and you'll be able to get replacements through Quoc's website.
The sole is drilled and threaded for three-bolt cleats. Offering a four-bolt option for Speedplays has been discussed, according to Quoc, but it looks like they're waiting to see how well that platform does in the marketplace now that Wahoo has reintroduced it.
Inside we find Quoc's Natural Fit insole, which is shaped and stiffened to provide support for the arch, with a dimple to put the ball of your foot close to the sole. Like the upper it's extensively perforated and it's all I can do not to make a silly gag about letting the flavour flood out. There aren't quite 2,000 perforations here, though.
The dials are handed. You turn them forwards to tighten, and backwards to release, regardless of which foot you're handling. That's different from Boa dials, which tighten clockwise, and which I've always found slightly confusing.
The adjustment per click is very small, so the twin dials provide very fine control of the tension. However, opening the dial releases the tension completely; there's no way to open it one click at a time.
That wasn't a problem for me, but I know some people like to be able to release the tension slightly when their feet warm up and swell. In fact I generally have the opposite problem of never tightening shoes down enough to start with and having to snug them later. The Mono IIs' dials make this trivially easy.
One situation where Quoc's minimalist approach really pays off is in the wet. There's not much padding and the synthetic leather absorbs very little water, so when it rains they don't end up soaked and squishy, just a bit damp, and they dry out quickly too.
The dense insole also doesn't take up much water, so after a downpour you can pull out the insole, put the shoes somewhere warm and they'll be ready to wear again the next day.
Pulling the Quoc Mono II shoes out of the box, my first thought was 'my eyes!' They're very white, which requires a certain panache to carry off – or a serious case of Don't Care. Fortunately, you can get them in black too, if you'd rather not draw attention to yourself.
They're definitely good-looking shoes, though, with unfussy styling and a lack of panels and frippery that you'd describe as 'understated' if they weren't quite so white.
Fortunately the surface cleans up easily, though mine have sustained a tiny scuff on one toe.
The Quoc Mono II shoes are really nicely thought-out, with all the details you need, and very few that you don't.
Very good stiff, light, comfortable shoes; also in black for non-exhibitionists
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Quoc Mono II cycling shoes
Size tested: 44 EU
Tell us what the product is for
Wearing on your feet. Really, this test report questionnaire is a silly thing.
Okay these are shoes for going fast. They're very light, with carbon fibre soles and twin dial closures, both hallmarks of racing slippers.
"Mono II is the latest version of our race-grade road riding shoe. Featherlight and supremely comfortable, it features a unidirectional carbon sole, a dual dial closure system, and an all-season, two-piece bonded upper inherited from our top selling silhouette, the Gran Tourer.
"At the footbed, Mono II's new vibration-absorbing insole features a ball-of-foot pressure point release, and comes with a choice of three arch support options for personalised comfort. Paired with a reassuringly supportive padded heel cup and tongue and developed from a hand-worked last that precisely follows the contours of the foot, Mono II represents the last word in long mile comfort.
"Fine details like stylish, brogue-inspired zig-zag stitching and circulation-enhancing tongue trim complete the shoe."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Handlaid, unidirectional carbon fibre sole
Durable, weather-resistant upper (inherited from our Gran Tourer gravel shoes)
Zig-zag detailing for enhanced strength
Dual dial closure & custom-moulded lace guide for fast adjustment
Precise, hand-moulded last
Supportive heel padding
Vibration-absorbing insole with ball-of-foot pressure point release
Three arch inserts for custom-like fit
3-bolt road cleat compatible (Look/Speedplay)
Featherlight at 249g (EU43)
In an email, Quoc told us:
"The dials we are using are not BOA dials, but still give very precise adjustment - our ambassadors actually say that the adjustment is even easier/more precise than the BOA dials.
"We also will sell replacement dials and replacement heel pads on our website so our customers can get the most from their shoes.
"Materials wise, the upper is made from microfibre PU which we have taken from our bestseller Gran Tourer gravel shoe. This material is really durable and suitable for all weathers. The sole is made with handlaid, unidirectional carbon fibre. "
Very tidily put together; no flaws or faults in stitching or gluing.
With very stiff soles, the Mono IIs feel like none of your effort is being wasted when you stomp on the pedals.
They're looking good so far, but the lack of replaceable heel and toe bumpers is a concern. I'm tempted to paint on a layer of Shoe Goo to help protect them.
Between the well-shaped sole and the subtle detailing of the insole, the Mono II supports my feet really well. The upper is well-shaped too, and they're not insanely narrow like so many cycling shoes, so they comfortably accommodated my bunions.
I'm a size 43 or 44, depending on the whim of the manufacturer (44 in Shimano and Lake shoes, for example, 43 in Specialized and Converse, and most other civilian shoes). My test Mono IIs are a 44, and I could have almost certainly gone for a 43 as I've ended up with a bit more toe room than I need.
518g/pr in size 44 is light, bordering on feathery. Of shoes we've tested recently, the single-dial DMT KR3s are just 440g in size 41 and £235.99, Shimano's £319 S-Phyre RC902 are comparable at 497g in a size 42, Specialized S-Works Ares are £375 and 564g in size 43 while the Sidi Shot 2 is also £375 at 616g (EU43) and Lake's CX238 Carbons are 674g in size 46.
The Mono IIs are comfortable for long rides; you just don't notice them, despite the apparent lack of the padding that usually helps cosset your feet.
£270 is quite a long way from cheap, but it's in the ballpark for light, high-performance shoes.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They wipe clean easily with soap.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed; these are well-made, comfy kicks with the one crucial feature that's vital to high-performance cycling shoes: very, very stiff soles.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Stiff sole, minimal construction, dial closures.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
On reflection, I might have preferred black.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're very competitive against other high-end, light, high-performance shoes like the Sidi Shot 2s and Specialized S-Works Ares shoes, both of which are white, have twin dial closures and very stiff carbon soles, and both of which cost £100 more. The Sidis do have more features though. The DMT KR3 knit shoes are closer in price, but lack the Mono IIs' very nice insole and are missing a dial.
On the other hand, just £180 gets you a pair of dhb Aeron Lab Carbon shoes with dials, though the mono IIs are better ventilated.
On the whole I think the price is fair.
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
The light weight, stiff sole and ease of use are all major positives of the Quoc Mono II shoes. They deserve a high score.
About the tester
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
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, mtb,
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.