Not content with being the leading pedal brand for gravity-style riding, Crankbrothers now has a complementary shoe line-up. We test the Mallet E Boa.
In my opinion – and judging by the paddock at World Cup DH and EWS enduro events, the opinions of most top racers too – Crankbrothers makes the best clip-in pedals for trail/enduro riding. Its Mallet DH and Mallet E offering genuine flat pedal stability and feel with the efficiency and security of a clip-in mechanism. Well now the brand has a range of shoes to complement its test-winning pedals.
Pricing is based on the closure system, with the BOA wire design at the top of the tree, a lace-up/Velcro mix model occupying the mid-point and a full lace-up shoe at the entry-level. Decide on your budget, then pick whether you want standard or extended cleat slots, depending on where you want your foot to rest on the pedal. The idea being that more DH-orientated riders will want their cleats further back. The shoe tested here is the top-of-the-range Mallet E Boa, with the standard cleat slots, where the E indicates ‘Enduro’. If you’re not sure whether you’ll need to use the ‘Race Zone’ that comes with the extra long cleat slots, I’d say it was unlikely. I like a rearward cleat position, but I had no trouble getting them in the right place with the standard shoe. What I really like is that there are measuring marks on the cleat box that help you get your perfect position mirrored on both sides. And, even better if you’re a Crankbrothers pedal user, they come pre-installed with cleats, so you just need to tweak the position and away you go.
As you’d hope, the Mallet E Boa mates perfectly with the Mallet DH pedal. The ‘Match Box’ provides plenty of space around the cleat, so clipping in is easy, yet there’s still enough sole in contact with the pins and the platform to provide grip and support. It’s a slim shoe too, so I didn’t encounter any issues with unclipping my back foot. The radial tread pattern on the sole is designed to help the shoe twist out of the pedal more easily – it’s a neat idea, but as it depends where you put your cleat as to where the pedal pins contact the sole, I couldn’t detect any advantage from the design.
Crankbrothers’s upper design is sleek and seamless, and quite distinct to most skate-inspired DH designs. The hidden eyelets and moulded design makes it easy to clean, and there’s a good balance between weather-proofing and ventilation.
One of the best assets of the Mallet E Boa is the superb comfort combined with 360º foot stability. The Boa is quick and effortless to tighten, yet eliminates hot spots across the foot, while the Velcro strap, deep heel cup with rubberised grippers further ensure the shoe is completely stable.
*Update: Having ridden these shoes for a year now, we have seen issues with the BOA dial getting damaged after getting caught on rocks. The whole dial can pull out of its mounting. If you’re lucky, the mounting points will be undamaged and you can snap it back into place. However, it is possible to snap the plastic anchor points and write off the shoe. With this in mind, if you ride somewhere very rocky, it might be worth considering the lace-up Mallet shoe rather than the BOA version.
Crankbrothers clip-in pedals have always been better then its flat pedals, and now, having tested both its clip-in and flat pedal shoes, the same rings true. These Mallet E Boas have some excellent innovative features, but, more importantly, they are comfortable, stable and integrate perfectly with the brand’s class-leading clip-in pedals. Originally my one big gripe was the steep price tag, but considering the level of tech and the fact you get a pair of £20 cleats thrown in, now I’m not so sure.