You are here

Crankbrothers slips into the shoe market

Published December 14, 2020

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (BRAIN) — After more than 20 years in the pedal business, Crankbrothers has decided to get into the shoe game with a line of trail, enduro and downhill mountain bike shoes for flat and clipless pedals.

Crankbrothers leveraged its knowledge of the shoe/pedal interface and its relationship with Fizik — a fellow Selle Royal brand — in developing the line, said Megan Tompkins, Crankbrothers' global marketing director.

"We were aware of some issues of incompatibility with our pedals and some shoes. Some shoe designs interfered with people clipping out, for example. We also knew that some racers were lengthening the cleat track toward the heel to allow for more stability," Tompkins said.

"We tried to identify ways we could improve the interface, but all we had control over was the pedal and the cleat ... we decided the only way to really improve the interface was to make our own shoes."

As for Fizik, Tompkins said the shoe and saddle brand assisted especially in material and design testing during the three-year development period. Fizik focuses on road and cross-country mountain biking shoes, so there's no product line overlap with Crankbrothers' initial shoe line.

The Mallet shoe's Match Box has an extended cleat track.

Crankbrothers calls the pedal/shoe interface on its shoes the "Match Box." On the clipless shoe models, the platform is ramped for easy clip-in and clip-out and some models have a longer cleat track to allow the cleat to be positioned further rearward. The depth of the cleat surface relative to the tread is optimized for a Crankbrothers cleat used with a shim. Shimano SPD cleats, which are 1 millimeter taller, are optimized for use without a shim.

"As the tread wears, the rider can remove the shim and still have the (Crankbrothers) cleat be at the optimum height," Tompkins said.

To make the system easier, all clipless shoes in the Crankbrothers line come with a Crankbrothers cleat and shim pre-mounted. "If they already use a Crankbrothers pedal, it's a bonus. If they don't, maybe this will inspire them to consider our pedals, as well," Tompkins said.

Crankbrothers hired former Michelin engineer Vanni Scapin to develop the tread compounds. On the clipless pedal models, the compound is designed for durability and is intended to be "not-too- grabby," to allow easy clip-in and twist-out.

To make the system easier, all clipless shoes in the Crankbrothers line come with a Crankbrothers cleat and shim pre-mounted.

On shoes designed for platform pedals, the outsole material is a softer, low-rebound rubber that "absorbs" the pedal pins and provides optimal grip. The sole's lug shape and depths are optimized for off-bike traction, durability and maximum contact surface with the pedal. The tread on those shoes will wear slightly faster than those on the clipless shoes, however.

The models

Besides hiring Scapin to help design the rubber compound, Crankbrothers brought in Anthony Hope, a former Nike and Reebok designer. Fizik assisted with lab testing for tread grip, sole stiffness, abrasion resistance and other factors. Ride testing was done in Southern California and British Columbia by riders including Luca Shaw, a member of the Santa Cruz Syndicate pro team.Crankbrothers' slat wall display has a mirror to emphasize the shoes' sole features.

The model line includes the Mallet clip-in shoes, which will be available with three closure system options: a BOA Fit System with a single strap; a speed lace-and-strap; and a lace-only. Prices are $199, $169 and $149, respectively, and all come with a pre-installed cleat, which normally retails for $26.99. The Lace version is available in black or navy blue colorways, while the other versions are black. The Mallet features the extended cleat track to allow rearward cleat positioning favored by some downhillers.

The Mallet E model, designed for enduro, has a similar sole and mid-sole design as the Mallet, but with TPU-protected areas on the upper. The E version lacks the longer cleat track, but has a stiffer clip-in area for uphill pedaling efficiency, and more aggressive tread lugs for hiking.

The Mallet E group, with three closure options and two colorways available on the Speed Lace-and-Strap closure.Prices are the same as the Mallet. The Mallet E speed lace model is available in two color options, while the others are black.

For flat pedals, Crankbrothers offers the new Stamp model. Like the Mallets, the Stamp has three closure system options. Retail prices are $20 lower than the Mallet across the closure options, and there are more color options across the range.

All the models come in 17 sizes — US 5 through 14, with half sizes from 6.5 to 12.5.

The shoes are available this month. Highway Two and QBP will be distributing them. In the U.S. Crankbrothers will be selling the shoe line consumer-direct through its website, as well. The shoes won't be available direct in other markets initially.

Tompkins said that while Crankbrothers is entering a new product category, it's not exiting any other categories, and will continue to offer pedals, dropper posts, wheels, pumps and tools. The brand had already pulled out of the stem, handlebar and non-dropper seatpost category in recent seasons, however.


Join the Conversation