Bicycling (South Africa)

Budget Swank

Olympic Tread MTB shoes.

- 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.


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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