Crankbrothers Stamp Shoe NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG
REVIEW

Crankbrothers Stamp Shoes

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date May 17, 2021
Reading time

MATCH-ing Stealth

It's been a while since I rode in FiveTen shoes. Maybe even back to before Adidas purchased them. And while they are the number one choice of the vast majority of flat pedal riders I know, there are certainly other soles that I prefer. What does this have to do with the Crankbrothers Stamp shoe? Simply put, their MATCH rubber sole is the only thing I've tried that holds a glue stick to Five Ten's Stealth rubber. Take the excellent quality of sister brand, Fizik's shoe manufacturing, and an ultra-sticky sole and I'm confident that this footwear will be an instant hit.

This will sound a bit like I'm buying them a fancy cocktail and mugging them at the same time but over the months I've been on the Stamp I've drawn a few conclusions. One, the manufacturing quality is tops. Period. Two (and this is totally self-serving) instead of multiple colour options across three lacing systems, I wish they'd split their SKU count between two sole options. I love the fit, feel, and simple lace-up configuration, and the little tongue pocket of the Stamp shoe but personally, I'd take it with the Michelin sole off my Shimano GR7 shoes.

SR Suntour Tri Air NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

The Crankbrothers MATCH rubber soles are as grippy as anything I've used in a long time. I've predominantly ridden OneUp Composites and Kona Wah Wah 2 Composite pedals for this test. Photo: Mr. Lungtastic

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I think the soles are in good shape for the amount of riding I've done. I've found climbing on my single speed is particularly hard on flat pedal shoes.

SR Suntour Tri Air NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

I love riding flat pedals in the winter. Add in a composite pedal and my wool insoles and even the best winterized clip-in shoes simply don't compare when it comes to comfort. Photo: Mr Lungtastic

I'm a fan of flat pedal shoes that require active effort to grip the pedals. I'm not saying the soles of my Shimano GR7 or Leatt 2.0 shoes don't provide solid traction, but I have to stay engaged with my feet weighted for them to work properly. On the other hand, the Stamps are tenacious about staying in position even when my mind is off writing articles while the rest of me is riding a bike.

I was getting a little glass-half-empty about the obvious pockmarks in the soles until I read AJ's take on a similar phenomenon withhis Impact Pro shoes:

"The sole has holes from my pedal pins but they haven't burrowed through completely, yet. I actually kind of like this, as it anchors the pins in place, providing even more stability. If it happened early in use, I'd be gutted but after the length of service these have provided, I'm fine with it."

I have even more hours on the Leatt 2.0, and the soles don't look as beaten but an impartial judge could accuse me of comparing the durability of Lexan to leather. I really like the geometric Leatt 2.0 sole and I've been using the shoes virtually interchangeably, but most folks I ride with would gladly buy the stickier option two-to-one for twice the price if that was the only way to get their preferred interface on the trail.

To explain that more clearly, the Leatt 2.0 is going to present a better long-term value - purchase price and longevity -assuming the owner enjoys riding in them. If they toss them aside after one ride and purchase a pair of sticky-soled shoes like Five Tens or Crankbrothers Stamps - then not so much.

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I love the lace pouch. I though I'd prefer the flat-lock laces of the Shimano or Leatt shoes but I didn't have issues with these coming loose.

Crankbrothers Stamp Lace NSMB AndrewM.JPG

Crankbrothers makes multiple lace options but this is the only one for me. Keep it simple silly - flat pedals love laces.

The one place I suspected the Stamp would have an obvious disadvantage over other shoes I like, based on my Five Ten Stealth experiences, was in loose hike-a-bike situations. It's simply a case of the rubber being formed into large smooth shapes; the solid blocks on the Crankbrothers shoes or dots on the Stealth soles for example. They grip excellently against sharp pedal pins but slip and slid on loose gravel.

I recently found myself over my head on a very steep and loose DH trail on my Walt V2. Yes, I'll give you a minute to stop laughing at me. Anyways, I found myself over my head and hiking down with my bike wishing I was wearing a different pair of shoes because the Stamps just don't have the right combination of sharp edges to grip loose media. For loose hike-a-bike sections, the Shimano GR7's Michelin sole is my first choice of while not giving up much in terms of absolute grip compared to the Stamps.

I did find that the Stamps were great for hiking up steep climbs right out of the box. None of the pain and I didn't need a pair of more supportive insoles the same way I do with the Leatt or Shimano shoes. I still did the bulk of my more recent rides with a pair of Esker 'The Approach' wool insoles installed possible because I'm addicted to them. They're comfy in adverse weather and provide more support than the stock insoles, and I picked up a second pair so I don't have to swap them between shoes.

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The Stamp shoes have good support out of the box riding or hiking but I still chose to run my Eskers inside every single ride after the wool inserts arrived.

Flat Pedal Life

For the large part, choosing shoes and pedals comes down to a preference for active v. passive grip. If in doubt, find some sharp pins - like OneUp specs on their pedals - and some sticky soles like these Stamps and go ride your bike. Good things will happen.

I'm fast approaching my one-year anniversary of strictly riding flat pedals and I'm even getting halfway competent at it. I ride flats on my commuter bike because it weighs 50-60lbs empty so who gives a hoot. I ride flats on my full suspension bike because I'm genuinely having more fun on the janky technical trails I like to ride at the speeds I maintain. I ride flats on my singlespeed because I'm not that much slower, and I don't make that many fewer climbs, and a simple pedal-shoe interface pairs beautifully with a simple mountain bicycle. As soon as I checked my ego and accepted that I was going to be a few minutes slower on longer climbs and may not clear a few features every time, I never looked back.

I also ride with my kid a few days a week, and flat pedals make that experience better. Whether it's working on my track stands at the most awkward moments, or jumping off to spot the next progression (or to untangle kid & bike) flat pedals are key. When my grom started riding I traded my clip-in pedals for flats, an open bucket lid for a full face, a hip pack for a backpack, and bare legs for kneepads - even when I'm doing some light Shore-XC.

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Pack, knee pads, full face, and flat pedal shoes. All items that wouldn't have been in my regular rotation a couple of years back.

It's always a bit perplexing to finish a review like this. I'm thrilled with the quality of the Stamp shoes, I use them very regularly - and will continue to do so - and of all the shoes I've tested over the last couple of years I think they're the ones that would be most universally loved by the NSMB readership. I'm looking forward to reading more nuanced reviews of Match rubber from folks who live and breathe Stealth rubber and who may offer some performance differentiation.

If you're in the market for a truly sticky sole, excellent shoe construction, and I think a fairly reasonable price at 130 USD for the lace-up model, the Crankbrothers Stamp shoes are absolutely worthy of your consideration.

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Comments

mothrock
+1 Andrew Major
mothrock  - May 17, 2021, 8:11 a.m.

After nearly decade on SPD's I switched to flat pedals once my first kid starting riding onboard with me (on a mac ride).  Kid 2 is on the mac ride now and I'm still on flats.  I ended up getting the base model freeriders which have some nice flex in their soles, unfortunately my local shop didn't have these CB shoes.  I'll have to try these ones out when my freeriders are trashed.

This weekend I did a ride on SPD's (after two full years on flats) and I found: I missed the ability to move/adjust my feet a little bit as required and that I felt a little less beat up using my SPD's.  Maybe my body is more relaxed on SPD's?  Efficiency?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 17, 2021, 9:13 a.m.

No doubt from a power/fatigue perspective clipping in is easier on my body. Especially grunting about technical climbing.

Reply

ackshunW
+1 Andrew Major
ackshunW  - May 17, 2021, 8:42 a.m.

Nice review! I always found flats much much more difficult on the rigid single speed in technical terrain. Maybe time to give it another try!

Can you relate the fit and sole stiffness to, say, a Five Ten Freerider? (Tough, I know, you say you e been away from 5.10). A different benchmark shoe will suffice :)

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AndrewMajor
+1 Andy Eunson
Andrew Major  - May 17, 2021, 9:12 a.m.

They’re a bit stiffer than my Shimano GR7 or Leatt 2.0. Especially notable hiking where the insole upgrade wasn’t necessary (but still nice).

Stiffness and flat pedal shoes isn’t a big deal (or as big a deal) as long as you right-size your platform to your foot. Tons of sizes/shapes of flat pedals now.

There’s a learning curve. Some technical climbs I use to do no problem clipped in have taken a year to conquer! Others, I may never get. Still, loving the experience. It’s harder but more fun, from my perspective.

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Kenny
+1 Andrew Major
Kenny  - May 17, 2021, 9:02 a.m.

Cool to know they are made by fizik. 

I just picked up some fizik gravita tensor flat, the most impressive aspect of them is the materials and build quality, for sure. 

They are not particularly comfortable and the grip is just ok, but they're definitely well made. Haha.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 17, 2021, 9:08 a.m.

These Stamps are so well made - sister companies, my experiences with Fizik have been excellent - and also very grippy. It’s perhaps a bit of a unicorn shoe in that regard? At least if I was chasing sticky rubber and wasn’t satisfied with the quality of other brands this is where I’d go no-question.

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bobthestapler
0
Mitch Stockwell  - May 17, 2021, 9:38 a.m.

How wide does the toe box run? I'm personally a bit wider than normal bike shoes are made for and I cannot find any reviews motioning how they fit in comparison to other brands. Hoping these might finally be able to replace my dying Tevas.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 17, 2021, 1:10 p.m.

They aren't any wider than the Leatt 2.0 or Shimano GR7 shoes I also wear. I mean, as always with helmets and footwear I'd recommend trying them on - test-ride & then decide.

Reply

IslandLife
+2 Andrew Major Blake Clayton
IslandLife  - May 17, 2021, 9:51 a.m.

Couple things... 1. Does anyone else prefer technical climbing in flats?  After a couple years of riding and racing on clips, just this past weekend I went back to flats.  It started with a Friday evening jump park sesh and I decided to leave them on for the weekend. I was kind of thinking... "I've been riding clips for awhile now, better get some rides in on flats to make sure I'm not relying on them too much"  The good news is that no, doesn't look like I've been relying on them for hopping & jumping etc... and it seems (as I've been suspecting), clips have been holding me back when it comes to really difficult tech climbing!

There's a climb here at Hartland in Victoria called "Breathless" that takes you up to the top of the mountain, out of the park and accesses the best (if not necessarily sectioned... but that's a whole can of worms over here) trails.  It's a double black climb trail... it's steep, loose, rocky, sometimes steep switchback-y and dotted with really difficult technical rocky sections/features.  On my flats this weekend, I cleaned a bunch of sections I've never done before!  I think on clips, I tend to bail out early and/or when I have a chance to bail out before getting into a situation where it gets really difficult to unclip and save yourself from a significant fall into some exposure.  Flats seems to allow me to push that last little bit knowing I can easily step off (in anyway that I need to)... it was enlightening.

I also like being able to use different fore/aft positions depending on what I'm doing and then of course, I feel just a tad more confident when dipping into some of the double-black+ trails/rolls/features.

End result... think I'll keep the flats on the bike for a while... maybe reserve clips for racing?  One thing I did miss was getting a great foot position every time I step back on a pedal after taking it off with clips. I was relearning foot position a bit with flats... ended up riding a few features with some wacky foot placement, ha! 

2. Question.. It's definitely time to upgrade my old neglected worn out flat pedal shoes... my Freeriders are just too worn and soft... need a little more support as my feet would start to get sore after extended periods of rough descending.  How is the support of the stamps compared with others?  Or at least with worn out freeriders?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 17, 2021, 1:14 p.m.

I mean, I come from decades of clipping in so no, I find there are a bunch of things I can make clipped in - especially when I'm fatigued / especially on my single speed - that I can't make with flats. But, as my technique and timing improve the number of sections has decreased substantially. Still, there are some steep janky climbs where I can't believe that flats will ever be equal (never mind better) than clipping in. 

It took me a long time to get comfortable foot position-wise v. clipping in and I still find even on my FS bike my feet get bounced off sometimes when I'm hitting a chunky section. 

Support is better than the other shoes I regularly ride in (as noted, the Stamp didn't require an insole the way some other shoes do) but I think a lot of support with flat pedal shoes also comes down to right-sizing your platform/pedal shape.

Reply

clayteson
0
Blake Clayton  - May 20, 2021, 9:56 a.m.

I am so glad someone other than myself feels this way!  I rode clipless for years before I even tried flats.  I always felt fine going DH clipped in, but technical climbs were my nemesis.  Either poor technique or bowed legs always prevented me from dismounting and my palms and knees suffered greatly on otherwise slow and silly tip overs.  I found myself not trying or bailing early on slow technical sections that would likely require a quick unclip.  Just felt they always held me back because I was uncomfortable in the last second where you think "oh Sh**".

Now on flats, I charge anything because I'm completely comfortable supermanning away from my bike given I need to eject.  I never have a problem clearing obstacles on flats.  Riding tech on flat absolutely requires more skill, albeit maybe slightly less dedication.  I ride flats on everything but my gravel bike, and even then, I throw a 100mm fork, dropper, and flats on to go do dirty shenanigans on flowy singletrack.

Reply

WalrusRider
+1 Andrew Major
WalrusRider  - May 17, 2021, 10:57 a.m.

These Stamp shoes are checking a lot of boxes for me and look like an excellent contender to replace my 5.10s. I'm particularly intrigued by the BOA and speed lace versions. But I've never used BOA shoes before. Any insights on them in this application? Nothing wrong with regular laces since they're so simple and just work. Is there a meaningful advantage to the alternative lacing options or not really worth the extra cost?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 17, 2021, 1:17 p.m.

I've had a lot of great experiences using the BOA system with clip-in shoes. Personally, I much prefer laces with any shoes and couldn't justify any amount of extra money for a BOA. That said, there is certainly no real reason aside from the cost to avoid the system and their customer support (BOA's) for any application is awesome. I'd skip the speed lace from my experience with other shoes - either tie your shoes or get a BOA.

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hongeorge
+2 Andrew Major AJ Barlas
hongeorge  - May 17, 2021, 12:15 p.m.

I foundd these noticeably less grippy that Freerider Pros, but nicer to wear and ride in just about every other way, comfort and weatherproofing being near top of the list. Plus a hideaway for laces - thin laces which don't soak up water and dirt, and an upper that dries quick and then brushes clean.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 17, 2021, 1:21 p.m.

Interesting; out of curiosity, what other non-FiveTen shoes have you tried (and how do they compare), and what pedals do you use? It's particularly fascinating to me as I've heard feedback both ways (equal to FiveTen / less grip than FiveTen) which is the same as the feedback I've had about the stickiest 4.0 rubber from RideConcepts. 

I haven't worn FiveTen's for so long - as I noted - that I can't give a true, recent, apples:apples comparison. Certainly, these are much stickier than other shoes I love and comparable in my mind to my past Stealth experiences. 

Have to agree with the laces. I was sure that the flat laces from Shimano/Leatt were the way to go, but with the little pocket these work fantastically.

Reply

hongeorge
0
hongeorge  - May 18, 2021, 12:56 a.m.

The last non-Five Ten shoes I used were the Teva Links, which I loved (oh... and a short lived pair of the Vans bike shoes which separated from their soles almost immediately)

I loved the Tevas, and the Stamps are very similar in comfort and grip, but compared to the Freerider Pro, I'm definitely a bit less stuck to the pedals on them. Using Burgtec Mk5 and Mk4 pedals.

Not a major thing, and given the Stamps are better looking, more comfortable and more practical in the bad weather than the Five Tens, I'm happy with the tradeoff.

Reply

smoothjazzlines
0 Andrew Major AverageAdventurer
smoothjazzlines  - May 17, 2021, 1:35 p.m.

I picked up a pair over the holidays and took one wet cold ride in them. I found them so slick and lacking in grip, compared to Freerider Pros, that I immediately retired them. Never to be worn again.

The build and finish are great. Sizing felt a little small compared to the fivetens I've been wearing for years.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 17, 2021, 2:35 p.m.

Thanks for sharing your experience. May I ask what pedals you were using?

Do you still have them? Be interesting to hear your feedback after a few more rides.

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smoothjazzlines
0
smoothjazzlines  - May 18, 2021, 8:28 a.m.

I was either on Kona Wah Wah composites or Diety Deftraps. Funny I can't remember which... I don't still have the shoes. I got spooked on a feature that I've been hitting successfully for years when I slipped a pedal on a landing. I just felt like I was skating on the pins. I do want to point out that it was 35F and raining pretty hard. But hey, who doesn't love riding in super cold wet weather? Anyhow, one ride was all it took. Experiment was over for me.

Reply

smoothjazzlines
0
smoothjazzlines  - May 18, 2021, 8:38 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

MuscogeeMasher
+1 Andrew Major
MuscogeeMasher  - May 17, 2021, 6:25 p.m.

I’m as a big a stealth rubber fan as they come, but my experience is that all flat pedal shoes take a few rides to break in and achieve near-max grip (max is that sweet spot with deep, but not too deep, pin pockets).  I’m going to keep trolling from the safety of Maxxis and FiveTen and threatening to change, but if you’ve already got them might as well give them a few more tries.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 17, 2021, 6:59 p.m.

My experience is it takes a few rides as well and pedals v. sole pattern make a difference too, and it’s not the best to pass judgement on anything after a single ride - but I’ve heard mixed apples:apples comparisons to FiveTen from folks who had both recently so it’s good to have balanced experiences.

Reply

andyf
+1 AJ Barlas
andyf  - May 17, 2021, 1:10 p.m.

I have three rides on a new pair of Specialized 2FO DHs. I was interested in the Stamp boa but since since my size was in stock in the new Specialized shoes at a shop down the street from my house... They’re grippier than the Freerider Pros they replaced and much stiffer. The laces were initially hard to tighten but getting a good fit became easier when I re-laced them to enter the eyelets from below rather than above. On bike feel is good despite the thicker and stiffer sole and grip with TMAC pedals is basically clipless with vertical exit.

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velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - May 17, 2021, 3:36 p.m.

Gripper and stiffer than the freerider is what I want to hear. I'm thinking some version of the new 2FO will be my next shoe.

Reply

stinhambo
+1 Cam McRae
Steven Hambleton  - May 17, 2021, 5:59 p.m.

I love my Specialized 2FO Roost flat shoes. Reviews say it's as good as Stealth rubber too!

Reply

cxfahrer
0
cxfahrer  - May 17, 2021, 11:02 p.m.

I do not agree on the Shimano GR7 vs Freerider Pro.

The GR7 are my favourite shoes all year round, as long as I dont do anything but blue lines or commuting. But the Michelin rubber is so hard, even a wet pedal makes them slip (I use Chester nylon pedals on that bike). I even experienced that going uphill.

You may like that, but after a horrible crash last year I dont want to lose a pedal in the mid of a steep trail again (and that was with Freerider Pros on those Chesters).

So on everything more technical or faster I prefer the Freerider Pros, with proper DMR Vault pedals. The grip and platform on these is so much better. I would switch back to clipless if I was in still for enduro racing, but for the slow technical stuff I dont like it.

PS talking about the Pro and XVI with the sticky sole, not the usual Freerider or EPS version.

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