Bicycling (South Africa)
Olympic Tread MTB shoes.
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.