DSC01181 deniz merdano crankbrothers candy showers pass ortlieb tibolts knolly

Crankbrothers Candy Lace Shoes

Photos Deniz Merdano
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Crankbrothers Candy Lace Shoes

Shoes are a hard one. Finding the right pair requires the right fit, the features you're after, the right combination of stiffness, grip, and comfort, and in my overly self-conscious Gen Z nature, a style that is in vogue. I've tried over half a dozen different shoes in this category in the last few years, some of which stuck, but many to no avail. On paper, the lighweight laced upper, grippy sole, and simple aesthetics of the new Crankbrothers Candy Lace shoes amount to a promising package. I've had them for two months, used them for gravel and d*wncountry (be nice) riding, so let's dive into some of the details as the embargo lifts today.

DSC01178 deniz merdano crankbrothers candy showers pass ortlieb tibolts knolly

The Crankbrothers Candy Lace are an aesthetically pleasing shoe, even to someone born on the right (perhaps wrong) side of the 2000s.


From the first try out of the box, it was evident that these narrower shoes were built to favour someone with lower volume feet. They felt great. I typically have to torque my shoes down to such a degree that the opposing eyelets are within 10mm of each other and the toe rounds out like a clown shoe, or use thicker insoles to compensate for my low volume forefoot. In this case, the eyelets were well spaced apart even with the stock insoles. In that sense a win for those with a similar foot profile to that of my own, but also a word of caution, especially to those with wider feet or a higher volume forefoot, to try these on before purchase. A wide size is not currently available.

On a Brannock Device my feet measure 10.5 US on the left foot and 10 US on the right. Crankbrothers sent me a size 10 US (43.5 EU) and they fit perfectly. With that in mind, my sizing narrative for most cycling shoes is to get the smallest size that will fit without my toes touching the end. Initially I used the stock insoles, but found my feet hurt consistently after 30 minutes of ride time. The EVA insoles were very thin and offered dismal support. With that said, I think a lot of us have gotten in the habit of swapping in our preferred pair of performance insoles to get the most out of our shoes. In this case, I put in a pair of Specialized BG SL Footbeds (+++) to accommodate my higher arch.

In the past few years here are the shoes I've used: Giro Empire VR90 (43.5), Giro Terraduro (44), Shimano RX8 (43.5), Shimano XC7 (43.5) and Bontrager Foray (43.5). The Candys have a fit similar to the Giros and Bontragers, with the Shimanos being slightly too wide and voluminous for my preference. If you liked the Empires, yet found them too stiff and lacking grip, you'll likely get along really well with the Candy Lace.

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The comfortable, laced upper offered 5 eyelets, yet the toe box lacked mountain bike appropriate protection for PNW riding.

Upper and Toe Box

The upper of the Candy was rather stretchy and form fitting, almost resembling the qualities of a knit upper. There were five lace eyelets on each side, with the last set up top being reinforced with a metal stamp bearing the Crankbrothers logo. A nice touch, but also a practical one in terms of durability since, and other lace users will agree, you have to reef on the laces rather tight to get them ready to ride in. There is an elastic over the tongue to tuck the laces in as well. The laces had a tendency to loosen after each pull, so lacing was a bit of a tricky job, making me whish I had a third hand.

In this vein, let's talk about the elephant in the retro-randonneur-alt-hipster-countercultural room and that is LACES BRO! Laces are simple, light, easily replaceable, and provide even tension over the foot. As with these, I enjoyed my time on the Giro Empire VR90. They provided adequate foothold, comfort, ease of replacement, and traditional aesthetics (which is to my taste but perhaps not for the Apple Vision Pro wearing, Tesla-driving techy amongst us). However, they are time consuming to lace, and arduous to remove when wet, especially with cold fingers. I like them for gravel, yet not so much on the mountain bike because they don't have as firm of a hold on my foot, which for me is essential when throwing a rubber-laden, welded metal rear triangle around like a proper hack of a rider.

The heel cup was deep enough to be secure. The toe box protection failed to extend beyond my pinky toe and cover my 5th metatarsal head, which is liable to being clipped if a line too tight is taken. If I was mountain biking through swooping desert single track they'd be adequate, but with the rigours of riding we have here on the Shore and in the PNW, I would've liked to see the toe box protection extend about 10mm further on either side. Perfectly fine for our gravel riding, though.

Sole and Grip

With a fiber-reinforced nylon shank as opposed to a carbon sole, the Candy Lace strikes a nice balance between stiffness and comfort. As mentioned, they work great for gravel or adventure use, along with the occasional pedal-oriented ride sans knee pads. With that said, if I was after a gravel or XC race shoe, I'd be partial towards something with a stiffer, carbon sole.

The Match MC1 soles of the shoe came as a lovingly soft surprise. From what I've felt, the Candy lace use the same sole as the recently released Stamp Trail BOA. The forgotten-pocket-gumdrop on a hot summer's day sticky soles were a fantastic deviation from most harder soled shoes in this category - especially when having to get off the bike to bushwhack, grab a coffee, or navigate the decks on a ferry. The soft soles are great but they're not essential for a shoe of this caliber, so if it adversely affects longevity to a significant extent then it may not be a worthwhile trade-off - I'll report back if that issue develops.

The cleat box position was mounted rather far back for a shoe of this use. However, if you like to run your cleats as far back as possible then these cater to that. Normally I setup my cleats near the middle, but I had them set near the front of the cleat box to have them properly aligned between my first and fifth metatarsal. The 35mm long cleat track allowed for plenty of adjustability. No shims were needed for SPD pedals.

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I've been using the Candy Lace primarily on my gravel bike for commuting, mixed terrain rides, and bikepacking.


After 2 months with the Crankbrothers Candy Lace I've been thoroughly impressed with their fit, aesthetics, and walkability. They walk a nice line between stiffness and comfort for long rides and have soft rubber lugs that offer grip in spades. Moreover, the fit for those with narrower or lower volume feet is fantastic, barring the cheap stock insoles. They are available in three colours: White, Blue, and Black/Gum. These have become the go-to shoe in my lineup and I look forward to spending the rest of the season in them. I'll keep my eyes peeled on the wear of the sole and report back if it is unusually quick (by my standards I expect to get ~3+ years out of a pair of gravel shoes). All in all, a great first stab by Crankbrothers at a shoe aimed for gravel and light trail riding.

The Crankbrothers Candy Lace is available in Men's 5-15 / Women's 6.5-16.5 / Euro 37-49
340g per shoe (size 42)

MSRP: 220 CAD / 160 USD / 160 Euro

Matt Cusanelli

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 155lbs/77kg

Inseam - 34"/86cm

Ape Index - The Original Slinky™

Age - 22

Bar Width - 780mm

Preferred Reach - 485-500mm

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+1 Pete Roggeman

I want these, but BOA Li2.



I'm the same, although I see the laces and just like the Giros, I love the look and want them like that, too. One of each, I guess.



I try not to spend too much time shoegazing while riding, so the functionality takes precedence. But to each their own.



Me neither, I'm just a sucker for on the shelf looks.



I'm partial to laces, but I hear you. This would be a logical next step for them.



This comment has been removed.


imho, laces have no place on cycling shoes. ever.


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