Cannondale Roam £60
Synthetic nubuck and breathable mesh upper / Carbon-black rubber reinforced outsole / Lace retaining device / Integrated toe studs / Reflective details / Women’s version/ Sizes 6-14 / Cannondale 0031 541 573 580, www.cannondale.com.
MBR rating: 9/10
Oakley Wrench £69.99
Vulcanised rubber sole / Breathable tongue with ECT lining / three-quarter length inner bootie / EVA shock absorption and memory foam / Durable toe cap / Sizes 6-13 / Oakley 01462 475 475, www.oakley.com.
MBR rating: 8/10
Trail shoes by their very definition have a style agenda over the svelte buckled and ratcheted functionality of XC lightweights. Here Oakley take this stylistic template more seriously than the no-nonsense Cannondale. In typical ‘don’t fix what ain’t broke’ fashion Cannondale stick with an evergreen. Producing trail shoes before most, the Roam’s tried and tested design has seen only minor aesthetic and technical tweaks between seasons.
This goes some way to explaining its slightly clumpy form.
Oakley were supplying their factory stars long before clipless compatible shoes surfaced for the general public, refining their previous Radar Lock release to create the Wrench. The intrinsic micro-perforated synthetic outer backbone remains, whilst scuff protection has been sacrificed around the toe for the aesthetic cause. Cannondale’s high cut upper with raised sidings extending from the moulded outsole is combined with toe and heel reinforcement. This bulk of material can result in crank hook ups if you’re generous on pedal float. In terms of fit there’s little separating the two. Oakley’s previous shoe tended to pinch towards the front as it tapered to the toe. But the Wrench, helped by the tongue attached neoprene bootie accommodates from the get go. Similarly Cannondale’s Roam’s are like box fresh slippers aided by a roomy toe box plus well padded and integrated tongue. In tread terms the two are a world apart. Oakley uses a channelled design more at home on a freeride shoe whilst Cannondale’s is a more aggressive moulded cut with studs for superior scrabbling performance.
Cannondale and Oakley level-peg on midsole rigidity, balancing off the bike mobility and pedalling performance with a low-key aesthetic presence for Civvie Street. Although conventional clipless pedals mesh well with the shoes, they proved too flexy for minimal Egg Beaters. A platform style clipless suited Oakley’s file tread, easily releasing from a caged surround next to the odd snags suffered by Cannondale’s raised lay out. Tread aggression really makes Cannondale’s shoe in loose hiking conditions and durability challenges Oakley’s slighter softer compound that quickly showed signs of wear. Little separates these clipped in so with an edge off the bike, the decision goes to Cannondale.