Gaerne Carbon G.Myst Road Cycling Shoe Pro Review by Paul Thai
- Model: Gaerne G.Myst in white
- Colors available: white, white/gray, black
- Material: Synthetic upper and Carbon weaved sole. 2 Velcro and 1 mechanical micro adjust buckle straps
- Weight: approximately 735 grams
- MSRP: $399
Imelda Marcos, once the Philippines' first lady was well known for owning as many as 1060 pairs of shoes. In comparison, I will never own or dream to own as many pairs. Although, I must admit I have a particular fondness for footwear. Whether they are formal, casual, or cycling shoes... I'm somewhat picky about what I wear. With cycling shoes, in addition to "looking nice", one thing is an absolute must, they have to fit perfectly. A nice fitting pair of cycling shoes equals pure enjoyment on the bike! It makes your legs, feet, pedal, and crank feel as "one". Your feet are considered one of the most crucial contact points between you and your bicycle (equally important is the contact of your buttocks and the hands). Having a pair of shoes, saddle, or handlebars that do not conform to your body usually leads to pain and frustration. So it's very important to get the fit right. Cycling shoes need to be functional, efficient, and comfortable. Although, ironically most times people buy shoes based on the way they look and consequently find out that the shoes do not fit them well. It's important to try on every pair of shoes you're considering before committing to the purchase. As you will find out, every shoe manufacturer's sizes are just slightly different, enough that a 43 in one brand will not fit the same as a 43 in another.
Gaerne (pronounce "GAH- EYR- NAY") is not a new kid on the block. The company has been around close to half a century, and is situated nearby the town of Treviso in Italy. The company's "know how" comes from a background of making walking shoes. Mr. Ernesto Gazzola, founder of Gaerne, had worked in the shoe industry for several years before deciding to go out on his own (with the help of his wife) when he created Gaerne in 1962. He then ventured on to fabricate motorcycle footwear (in which, Gaerne is very well respected and has many gran prizes to their credit), and then onto cycling shoes.
The company's "atelier" is located in the same neighborhood as some other well known cycling brands such as, SIDI and Wilier, to name a few. Being in the midst of the action helps the company gather all the information needed to make the best products that the possibly can. Although most companies products are made in Asia these days, Gaerne still makes their products in the same Italian factory by hand as they've always done. And if you are a fanatic of Italian footwear like I am, that's good to hear.
A few years back Gaerne sponsored some cycling greats such as Sean Kelly, Claudio Chiappucci (got to love him…what a fierce competitor!), and Marco Pantani (who doesn't like him?). Nowadays they have a pretty decent cyclist by the name of Cadel Evans. But realistically, none of us regular weekend warriors will ever come close to these living legends. So my take is that we should not consider them factors when considering the purchase of any shoes, but rather focus on fit, fit, and fit!
For the G.Myst, Gaerne opted to use a synthetic fabric to make the entire upper part of the shoe. I'm guessing that 95 % of this product is petroleum based except for the cotton threading that is used for the stitching. This synthetic material on the upper is similar to what is used to make fine soccer balls. I think someone realized that it was more practical to use this material as it is durable and just as forgiving as leather. One good thing I found with this material is that it's very easy to clean. One wipe with a wet sponge and dirt comes off extremely easily, "Voila!" the shoe is good as new!
Some may argue that leather uppers would have made the shoe suppler, but the way I see it, this shoe will appeal to the animal lovers in all of us, as no cows were slaughtered for the making of this product. And rest assured, even though this "plasticky" fabric would appear not to breathe as well, there are neat and symmetric perforations all over the shoe's upper. So there is plenty of ventilation for your happy feet!
Overall the shoe has a very low profile and is not as "arched" as some other brands. For cyclists who like a more pronounced arch, a solution can be easily achieved by buying a contoured foot bed to replace the standard one.
The company also uses a nice carbon weaved sole on this model, instead of carbon injection. The weave is big and looks appealing (there is just something sexy about carbon weaves). Modern cycling footwear no longer uses laces, as you well know, these days a combination of Velcro and ratcheting straps is the norm. The G.Myst features 2 Velcro straps and a ratcheting buckle strap. One of the neat features is the Safety Lock System located underneath the 2 Velcro straps. This row of teeth prevents the straps from slipping under stress (it worsens as the Velcro gets older and no longer retains its function). If you pay close attention you may hear a faint audible clicks as you tighten the Velcro straps. The ingenuity of concealing underneath, whereas other manufactures would just install in on the velcro side is what differentiates Gaerne from its competitors.
The buckle closure system is simple and effective, and the ratcheting mechanism can be micro-adjusted. In addition one can also adjust the position of the top flap retainer in reference to the ratcheting strap by numbered indicators. In the interior, the insole is simple and standard for cycling footwear, although it does have a little padding to it. There is also a under structure built on the back of the heel which Gaerne labels as "HEEL GRIP" with a Red honeycomb fabric. This is to support the heel so it does not slip out of the shoe. To add a little touch, a replaceable puck anchors the bottom at the back of the shoe. This is always a welcomed feature for those of us who tend to walk a lot with their shoes. Lastly, this pair of kicks weighed in at 730 grams. It's not a super light shoe per the weight weenies' standard but this is one classy and well built shoe.
"How do they feel?"
Finding a good pair of shoes is like finding a good pair of shorts, saddle, or helmet. It's very subjective in the sense that if they don't fit, do NOT bother in the hopes that somehow it will "fit" or "work" someday. The equipment either works for you or it doesn't.
The shoe was easy to set up, 3 standard holes for the pedal cleat. After installing the cleat plate onto the shoe, all you need to do is to slide it up and down to find the correct position in correlation to the ball of your foot over the spindle.This is something I did the night before the ride.
Comes the big day! After fine-tuning the straps (velcro and buckle) so the feet feel comfortable I was set to go for a ride with my group of friends. Not to be expected was a 90+ degree temperature waiting for us on this day! As the first few miles went by, my first impression was that with the shoe's low profile, one feels that one's foot is closer to the pedal spindle. Ideally, I would think this is good for pedal efficiency. This also seemed to facilitate the walking process. The carbon sole felt plenty stiff but not too "crazy" stiff, this is a good thing. In my opinion, you need just a tad of give so the foot can naturally do its thing. Half way through the ride, I was still looking for the hot spots to show up but there were still no signs. I figured with this heat they would manifest by now. This comfortable feeling went on for the remainder of our ride.
The synthetic upper never seemed to bother me and I think it may have helped the shoe keep my feet cool. I did notice the heel come up on one instance but I think the problem got remedied when I tightened the buckle strap. Before I forget to mention, our 3 hours bike ride had a few "sprint check points" in it. The G.Myst was stiff enough to make me feel as if I was Erik Zabel beating everyone to the line (mission accomplished). The carbon sole was stiff enough to direct the energy to the pedals without flex. As we were riding home I kept thinking to myself, "are these shoes worth $399?"
Well let me put this way: Italian craftsmen who earn 35 euros/hours make these in Italy. That always sounds better than me paying $399 for a shoe made in Asia by workers who makes $5/day. Which gives me the feeling that some big boss is making heaps of profit somewhere. Besides I believe the G.Mysts are a better value and come out a tad cheaper than cycling footwear found just up the road in Treviso (hint: starts with an "S"). Now that means I can use that extra money to treat my buddies and I to Gelato after the ride.
- Easy to set up
- Stiff enough for efficient foot to pedal power transfer
- Synthetic upper which very easy to clean
- Hidden safety lock on Velcro strap which keep all things neat
- Made in Italy
- "Heel grip" feature does not seem effective
- Shoe maybe a little too flat for people with a high arched foot.
- A bit on the heavy side at 735 grams
- A little pricey but again it's made in Italy!
- Real leather or Lorica should have been used
The G.Myst turned out to be a very comfortable shoe. After 3 weeks' use, the fit, the Italian craftsmanship, and design are impeccable. The synthetic upper is well thought out. After one ride, in which the shoe got a little dusty, wiping with a damp sponge rendered the shoe new again. The shoe does feel a little flatter than some other brands out there but for the cyclists who is a little "flat footed" this may work out in their favor. The "heel grip" feature failed its purpose a couple of times as the foot came up slightly. This was sort of remedied by adjusting the mechanical buckle strap to get a tighter fit. This shoe is definitely a keeper though. The manufacture's suggested retail price seemed a bit high but let's not forget this shoe is hand fabricated in Italy by experience artisans. Gaerne also makes 3 models below the G.Myst, for the budget conscientious. Overall this shoe function well, easy to set up, and very stylish.