Since going over to the Bianchi Oltre my mentality has been completely switched to Italian bikes and products, the way they design, implement and match materials is unrivaled, they have a refreshing style that goes beyond simple manufacture and production of a working machine. They seem to add care to everything they do and I get this feeling that each item is hand made by one guy from start to finish… although I know that cant be true, I still feel the connection.
I started a migration to all things Italian two years ago, and now I have one of the most important connections to the bike taken care of by these Italian racing slippers for the dirt, the Gaerne G.Kobra Carbon.
The change from a buckle ratchet to the Boa dials I am more accustomed to was a huge factor in deciding upon the G Kobra’s. I have tried on many shoes and hated the bulky protrusion the ratchet creates. The more streamlined dials are far more attractive and simultaneously provide function in an even lacing tension throughout the shoe which is easily adjustable. I will say that I prefer the newer Boa systems found on the specialized shoes for their ease of use forward and reverse ratchets making micro adjustments easier, but I have found the Gaerne ‘Pull-Twist’ ones to be perfectly fine. I don’t find I over tension the Gaerne shoes to begin with to necessitate a reverse click. If anything as I wear them they loosen up and I have to add more tension on the dials. The pull to release is a very fast way to get them off as well.
Fit was perfect out of the box and I had a 4 hour ride planned on their maiden voyage, there was no break in period and sizing was exactly the same as my outgoing Specialized 44’s. The shape is slightly different though as they look like they have a more race orientated pointy toe than the blunt S-works toe box, but the midfoot actually feels roomier in the Kobra’s with no toe squash at all up front. They are very comfortable and feel like the hug your feet from day one, the heel cup padding feels luxurious which is a neat accomplishment in a racing shoe. The inner sole feels firm but I’ve not had any trouble with hot spots or chafe whatsoever. I had usually worn a higher arched insole but I have not felt the necessity to change the standard inner soles provided.
The carbon soles are plenty stiff with no apparent flex, setting up the cleats was a breeze although the mounting plates were very stiff inside the sole and I needed to shift them forwards with the help of a flat screwdriver. That didn’t bother me much because I knew I wouldn’t have any annoying jingle as heard on loose plated shoes. The shoes are a touch heavier than the S-works, but I believe the weight lies in the rubber molded sole grippers which I have grown to have a great appreciation for; on my previous S-Works shoes any walking on the gravel in the barely covered soles would scuff the carbon, ruining the under sole in just a few outings making them look decidedly second hand, not so with the Gaerne as I have done a bit of walking about in the dirt and they still look like new. The outer material is very easy to clean and simply wipes off with a sponge to shine up like new. Gaerne have also included a tough toe cap that looks minimalistic but protects the front end of the shoe from dings and scrapes.
So far they have proven to be money well spent and I look forward to hundreds of miles in them in the days to come! If you were like me and struggling to let go of your old pair, worried about “B-G cant” or any other proprietary system, then don’t hesitate, pull the trigger on these premium shoes. You wont regret it.