The Giro Chamber is a skate-style SPD compatible shoe that works equally well in the bike park, trail, BMX track or around town. Intended as a downhill/ BMX specific racing shoe, the Chamber is a good looking shoe both on and off the bike. Our preferences lean solidly towards the black version, but the white version we were issued as a test model looked great new, and although they haven’t looked as nice since getting dirty, don’t look terribly beat up after several months of use. Featuring a toe box with ample room, and they’re plenty stiff for pedaling efficiency, while remaining surprisingly comfortable to walk around in.
As is the trend in skate style DH shoes these days, the shoe is designed for SPD compatible pedals with a platform for additional surface area and grip. The sole uses a rubber compound with a bit more traction for those loose foot out, flat out sections. Vibram rubber claims to offer more adherence than typical compounds used in shoes, and while it isn’t as grippy or soft as the sticky rubber used in FiveTen shoes, it offers a good amount of traction. The upside to the relatively stiffer forumla, is that it’s more durable and the usable life of the shoes is likely to be longer than the 5.10 Maltese Falcon we’ve also been testing. (FiveTen soles tend to be done after a season or two of riding) Commuters especially will appreciate this aspect, as the casual good looks of the shoe combined with the comfort level suit it well for use around town. When riding to work, I generally change into a pair of sneakers to spend my day in, but with this shoe, my main reason for changing was the glaring white color. Although the cleat does still contact the ground from time to time, it is recessed enough that I never had issues slipping while walking around, and I found the shoe very walkable.
The only gripe I found myself having with the shoe was the width. Those with wide feet will love the comfort; I found myself having to tighten them up a bit more when riding to keep them snug, although I could probably size down a 1/2 size. (I tend to run the laces at the front of the shoe relaxed, and snug at the ankle.) The other downside to the additional width is that the shoe comes in contact with my crank arms— my black XT cranks left black residue on the inside of the shoes. The width isn’t far out of line in comparison with other models in its class though; I have the same issue with my Shimano DX SPD Shoes.
Although it is touted as a DH-specific shoe, the range of the cleat adjustment is somewhat middle of the road. I’ve been experimenting with a more rearward cleat position recently due to foot numbness issues. (also referred to as “hot foot”) Many riders resolve foot numbness issues by moving the cleat position back, upwards of 8mm. Although the most rearward position isn’t as far back as I would have preferred initially, I haven’t had any issues yet while wearing the Chamber.
The drawback to moving the cleat back is a loss of power to the pedals, so I’m currently happy running them at the back of the slots. I do like how the tread is molded though. If my foot issues arise, to place the cleat further back, it would just be a matter of drilling it out, and I wouldn’t have to hack off much of the shoe.
Ironically, although they’re labeled a DH shoe, I haven’t actually clipped into my DH bike with them yet. Most of my runs this year on the big bike have been on bike park style trails, and I’ve been running flats for maximum fun. Much of the local riding is fairly tame though, and I’ve taken to riding my hardtail and trail bike like they’re my DH bike on these trails; I can happily report the shoes perform as intended for aggressive riding. I didn’t race any DH races with the shoes, but I did end up racing a local short track event we helped promote while wearing them. I had initially planned to wear some lighter, XC style race shoes, but since I was at the venue all day, I elected to wear the Chamber, choosing all day comfort over weight. Although they held me back a bit on the climbs, there were some flat turns I attacked with gusto, and foot-out drifting is where it’s at for these kicks.
Here’s a bit of propaganda on the development of the shoe straight from the Giro Marketing team, although the shoe in the clip is clearly a pre-production model with the strap facing the crank. Changing its direction was a good call, as additional crank rub would be bad. I do like the additional black on the toe box though.
Sizing is inline with my other shoes; my test size is a 9.5/ UK 43. I’m currently wearing a size 9/42 in FiveTen footwear, 9.5/42.5 in Specialized Footwear, 43 in Shimano. I like my shoes a bit roomy due to the issues with hot foot, but sizing down to a 9 would have been a better fit.
Specs: via Giro:
- Skate Style Upper, Internal bootie retention system
- Dual density Vibram rubber outsole, Molded SPD compatible shank
- Aegis Single Density Footbed
- Listed weight: 536 grams (size 42)
- MSRP: $140
Check it out: Giro Chamber Shoes