Bud­get Swank

Olympic Tread MTB shoes.

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Contents - By Dino Lloyd

EEven though the Olympic name’s been around since 1973 and has a pop­u­lar fol­low­ing, it may not be the first brand on the shop­ping list of fash­ion-con­scious South African rid­ers. Though known for be­ing bud­get-friendly and pro­duc­ing ro­bust, long-last­ing footwear es­pe­cially suited to rid­ers with wider feet, Olympic have never had a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing pretty.

But their lat­est Tread MTB shoe has had a makeover; and with some added fea­tures, it de­liv­ers on both looks and func­tion.

The Tread’s up­per fea­tures a mesh ma­te­rial cold-welded to­gether with an ‘ex­oskele­ton’ of in­jec­tion-moulded polyurethane that bal­ances good ven­ti­la­tion with ad­e­quate struc­ture and pro­tec­tion. There’s a solid, pro­tec­tive toe box moulded and glued to a syn­thetic ma­te­rial en­clos­ing the toes and front foot area, while the heel cup feels com­fort­able and sup­port­ive.

As ex­pected at this price point, the soles are ny­lon-based, with rub­berised ny­lon tread. But the tread is well shaped to min­imise mud build-up from off-bike portages.

There are also two stand-out fea­tures: a cat’s-tongue-like ma­te­rial in­side the heel cup for added grip on the foot, and a generic Boa-style clo­sure sys­tem called ATOP – a dial and speed-lac­ing clo­sure, sans Vel­cro straps. These are sig­nif­i­cant fea­tures, nor­mally only found to­gether on a more ex­pen­sive shoe.

FIT

Suited to those with wider feet, es­pe­cially at the fore­foot; our test shoes could prob­a­bly have gone a size down and still been com­fort­able. The ATOP dial was easy to use, and strik­ingly sim­i­lar to Boa’s dial clo­sure – for­ward to tighten, back to loosen.

The speed-lace sys­tem firmed up the fit through­out the shoe area, with­out dis­com­fort on any part of the foot. SPD cleats were fit­ted, and suf­fered no in­ter­fer­ence en­gag­ing be­tween tread and pedal.

The non-slip heel cup kept the foot in place and elim­i­nated any heel slip, through­out the pedal stroke – a boon while climb­ing. How­ever, the non-slip ma­te­rial does mark your socks for the first few rides, so don’t wear your favourite pair first time up.

On longer rides we felt there was a good bal­ance be­tween breatha­bil­ity and pro­tec­tion. The ny­lon sole also of­fered a nu­anced bal­ance be­tween stiff­ness and bend-abil­ity; walk­ing in the Tread never felt un­com­fort­able or awk­ward, thanks to the slight flex.

Fi­nally, at 408 grams, the weight per cleated shoe is com­pa­ra­ble to higher-end car­bon-soled shoes.

THE LOW-DOWN Af­ter thor­ough pu­n­ish­ment, the Tread has proved its worth on our reg­u­lar trails – easy to use and com­fort­able. Con­sid­er­ing the pric­ing, Olympic have pro­duced a value-for-money shoe that per­forms well, but looks good too.

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