Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Giro Privateer MTB/Road Cycling Shoes Review

giro privateer cycling shoe

Although Giro have not been in the cycling shoe game for long, they have quickly built a solid reputation for high performance at a reasonable cost. Today we review the Giro Privateer HV (high volume) which is a mid-range two bolt SPD shoe which RRP's at £99.99 and is available to buy with Free UK delivery at Evans Cycles.

The good The bad 
  • Excellent comfort
  • Understated stylish looks
  • Easy to walk in
  • Punches above it's price bracket
  • Sole flex may concern heavier riders

A solid shoe which offers excellent bang for your buck. Suitable for off-road MTB/Cyclocross or roadies who fancy something a bit more practical without sacrificing too much performance.

Full review
Looks & Features
I wanted a black, discreetly styled cycling shoe with a quality look and the Giro Privateer fitted the bill perfectly. The upper is made from a breathable microfiber which looks really high quality and there's the standard mesh ventilation in the toe area, although it's worth noting this is a little on the small side which has been great in the recent winter weather but I might wish for a little more ventilation when the temperature starts to climb.

The toe has a heavily reinforced toe cap which looks like it could take a good stub or two on the trail, if like me you'll only be using them on the road then this feature won't really matter.

There are a total of three straps to secure your foot in place, the two lower ones are secured by velcro and the top one is ratcheting. All the straps are extra wide and the middle strap is offset to prevent pressure build up.

The outsole is a neutral nylon colour which will not look out of place with any kit or bike colour (if you're that style conscious) and there are two fittings on the front of each sole to accommodate toe spikes for extra grip if you need them.

Weight weenies might be concerned about the DuPont™ Zytel® nylon outsole compared to the traditional material of choice - carbon. However the Privateer is only 10g heavier in a size 42.5 than the Giro Code VR70 - which RRP's at about £165GBP and is equipped with the Easton EC70 carbon outsole. Another reason where the Giro Privateer punches above its price.

As with everything in cycling, getting the fit right is vital in getting the best performance out of the product. It doesn't matter if your shoes cost £400 if the fit ain't right.

Giro have size charts on their website which give an idea of the shoe size but unfortunately nothing on 'volume' recommendations.

I've never had to buy wide fit shoes before or had any issues with wearing 'thin' shoes so I went with the standard fit size 46 (my UK shoe size is an 11). These were much too small in volume and I could only get the middle velcro strap half way done up which meant it pinched right on the bone which runs down to your big toe. Not comfortable at all.

I exchanged them for the HV (high volume) version which is apparently "tailored for high volume and extra-wide feet" in a 46. This fit was much better.

In summary the fit of the Giro Privateer cycling shoe appears to be on the narrow side, so if you know you have wide feet the high volume fit would be recommended, but spot on size wise as my UK11 feet fitted snuggly into the equivalent EU46.

How they ride
Compared to my old Shimano shoes I was immediately struck by how much extra padding there was in the heel area, this gives the shoe a super comfortable feel but also helps to lock your heel firmly in place.

The top ratchet buckle is wide and distributes the pressure well, the ratchet mechanism feels of good quality and is easy to tighten and release.

I always think the real test of comfort for any clothing is if you don't notice the item whilst riding. The Giro Privateer is one such item and during the test rides I had to keep reminding myself I had them on.

They are very easy to walk around in and almost feel like a normal shoe due to the recessed cleat and thin soles.

I have three minor criticisms:
1) It would be nice to have a bit more padding around the tongue to cushion the upper part of your foot.
2) The stitching is a bit..well...crap around the tongue and i'm not sure how long it will be before it starts to come apart. See photos below.
3) Although the heel is well cushioned, it is cut very low around the ankle which felt a bit strange to me when I first rode with them. It doesn't seem affect how well the foot is held in place but I think it would be beneficial to have a bit more support in that area.

After reading other reviews which seemed to praise the sole stiffness, I was a little concerned that it seemed to flex more "in my hands" than my old £50 fiberglass soled Shimano shoes. However, after testing them through a variety of riding including steady paced base miles, hard hill reps and sprints I couldn't feel any flex at all. For reference I am a 11st7lbs (73kg) rider. Perhaps if you are an especially heavy rider or professional then it might be worth making the step up to carbon but I think for average riders this is not worth the extra money.

Giro Privateer Photos

giro privateer in black

giro privateer from front

giro privateer cycling shoe

cleat mounting

photo of ratcheting buckle

Not hugely impressed with the stitching here, for a £100GBP shoe I expect better. Same on both shoes.

privateer toe cap

giro privateer nylon sole

Very nice padding around the heel area

Do you own the Giro Privateer's or thinking of buying some? Leave a comment below or tweet us @velocorner.


  1. how do you release the ratchet buckles if they get stuck? Mine did and I've been trying to release them to no avail. Help?

    1. There's a tab at the top of the ratchet, if you press this then it should release the strap?