Saturday, May 6, 2017

Giro Rumble VR: A review one year out

It's been a little over a year since I posted my first impressions of the Giro Rumble VR shoes. Since then I have been wearing the shoes almost daily, except during the winter. They also were the only shoes I had during a seven-day bike camping trip in California earlier this year. And since someone in the comments to the original post asked for an update, here is a full review. Giro appears to continue production of the shoe, and they have since introduced an additional color option (olive/black). The Rumble VR is widely available online and offline for about $80.


In my initial review I remarked that I was concerned about durability in two areas: The thickness of the sole around the cleat and the little elastic lash that holds in place the shoelaces. The good news: The elastic is holding up very well, and it is a feature that's I've come to appreciate, especially on a fixed-gear bike where you really don't want to get your shoelaces caught in the drivetrain.

The sole is a different matter. Even though I haven't walked around the shoes a lot and the sole isn't worn down by much, it is worn enough that the cleats touch the ground occasionally. It hasn't gotten to the point where that becomes dangerous, but I'm afraid that may happen in the not too distant future. The problem is that there is just not enough material around the cleat to begin with. Another indication of that: A commenter on the initial review asked whether the shoes made crunchy noises when walking, and indeed they do, unless you're walking on very smooth and clean pavement

The outer of the shoe, on the other hand, has held up very well. Compare the two pictures:

The top one is of the shoes today; the bottom is from the original review over a year ago. And if you think I've gone easy on the shoes, think again:
After a wet 100k ride
The heel cup is also still in excellent shape. That may be because I've continued to diligently use a shoe horn whenever I put the shoes on. As mentioned before, the shoes have a snug fit and and no tab to hold on to when putting on the shoe. So you either have open up the lacing a lot or use the shoe horn.


Comfort on the bike eventually worked itself out. My initial complaint about numbness in my foot went away after a while. Whether that was due to slight adjustments to the cleat positioning or just the shoes breaking in, I cannot tell. The longest rides I have done were about 10 hours on the bike during my California trip, and the shoes worked well for that. With thick socks I can wear the shoes comfortably down to about 8°C (45F). Below that my feet will get cold after an hour or so. In the summer they are sufficiently ventilated.

Off the bike I've never come to love the shoes. While they are not outright uncomfortable, I would not recommend them for longer walks or even just standing for extended periods of time. It may be the lack of cushioning in the sole (despite the Vibram label) or its stiffness, but my feet feel strained whenever I wear the Giros off the bike for too long.

Odor control

Nobody likes smelly shoes, and the Giros perform well in that department. The worst was during my California bike camping trip: Eight days of daily wear, combined with damp and cold nights, meaning the shoes would never fully dry out. By the end of it, they unsurprisingly had developed a distinct funk, but fortunately that has disappeared since.


I'm torn about the Giro Rumble VR. They look great, they're vegan, affordable, come in a large enough size for my feet, and they work well on the bike. But then they're also uncomfortable off the bike and don't have enough rubber on the sole to make them durable. So while I certainly don't regret buying them, I'm not sure if I would buy them again. I may, just because there aren't a whole lot of vegan SPD-compatible shoes that don't look like bike shoes. But some do exist, for instance the Chrome Truk or the Mission Workshop Hardcourt, and I would give those a hard look before re-buying the Giros.