Giro Latch Shoe NSMB AndrewM (20).JPG
REVIEW

Giro Latch Flat Shoes

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Sep 8, 2021
Reading time

Latch Loving

The Latch is Giro's latest premium flat pedal shoe It's an abrupt departure from previous efforts and there's a good chance you're going to appreciate it. The key changes are a much more generous toe box and lighter weight, coupled with rubber that's genuinely sticky. I know that when it comes to Giro's Vibram-soled past there's a bit of a 'boy who cried wolf' factor when they talk about grip, but the new Tack rubber delivers a legitimate challenge to your favourite full-traction sole.

The other feature I'll mention right away, is what Giro is calling Mute. It's a patent-pending slow-rebounding foam-injection-molded midsole layer meant to dampen the bounce from hard landings and punching through chunder-ridden trail sections. Combined with the tacky rubber and good mechanical grip from the sole pattern, these shoes destroy any previous effort Giro has made in the high-performance shoe department. They're really quite impressive. Too impressive for this rider actually, at least on all but the dampest and greasiest days, but that's how I know for sure that most mountain bikers are going to lust for Latch.

Giro Latch Shoe NSMB AndrewM (16).JPG

The Gamma Tack sole's connected to the Mute Midsole... the Mute Midsole's connected to HDPE internal power plate... the internal power plate's connected to the fast-drying, one-piece microfiber upper...

I've been using the Latch exclusively since July 28th. I've done long hike-a-bikes, I've commuted on them, I've clawed them into my pedals climbing my single speed and I've loaded them up trying to ride a 120mm travel XC bike down gnarly trails. And most of those rides have been on my two sets of shoe murdering pedals; my base standard OneUp Composites, and a killer set of North Shore Billet's new Daemon pedals.

I note the start date because, a month later, the soles of these shoes speak to the balance between grip and durability that is the dominant discussion point in all things rubber and mountain biking. I have epically more hours in my flat-shoe baseline, the Leatt 2.0, and also in Crankbrothers Stamp shoes, and both have soles that are significantly fresher than these Giro Latches.

Giro Latch Shoe NSMB AndrewM (18).JPG

The new Tack rubber is Giro's shot at the top of the grip podium and delivers oodles of traction. It's the first non-Five Ten shoe where I've considered removing some pins from my pedals to get some maneuverability back.

Giro Latch Shoe NSMB AndrewM (19).JPG

The uppers are premium looking, and premium performing with minimal seams, breathable panels, and fast-drying, hydrophobic internals. All for a premium 150 USD price.

Giro Latch Shoe NSMB AndrewM (14).JPG

I did a couple of rides with the stock insoles before tossing them in favour of the Esker wool insoles I also run in my other shoes. I like the extra support and the smell reduction.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to overlap the Latch with the Banshee Titan, because I think I would have loved the thought-free traction in the combination of speed and terrain that the 170mm/155mm sled would get me into. In terms of grip, I like to be able to move my feet around when I'm riding and I generally don't mind having to actively think about dropping my heels and loading my pedals on the descents to make up for it.

Those Laces

I'd write shameless sonnets about my love for the Latch's laces if Giro would agree to give me a box of them. I'd install them in every pair of wide-lace shoes I ride. I don't think I've ever ridden stretchy laces before. At first, it seems like a dumb idea. There's certainly zero-stretch in the premium shoe-tightening systems, like BOA, that appear on many mountain bike shoes, both flat and clip-in, and in my mind the logic of a stiff-stiff upper is sound. Take my Leatt 2.0 shoes for example where the laces have zero give and also don't loosen off when I'm riding. I just have to get the tension perfect before I leave home or I get some aggressive pressure on the top of my foot. With the stretch laces, I've never once stopped to re-tie my shoes either for a comfort adjustment or because they had come loose. There are no hot spots, and I feel like I can just crank them down and go without having to give a thought to not overtightening.

Giro Latch Shoe NSMB AndrewM (8).JPG

I was highly skeptical of stretchy laces on cycling shoes but I'm a convert. I'd thread these beauties through the eyelets on any of my fat-lace shoes.

Riding On Mute

I had to get out riding every time there was even a hint of moisture so I could feel like I had some chance of distinguishing the effects of the Tack rubber sole from the slow-rebound Mute mid-layer. Luckily we've had a bit of rain lately. I'm not going to claim that the Mute midsole is experience-changing or anything like that; however, the Latch shoes have a surprisingly damped ride for having such a thin sole.

While I'm not discerning enough, sadly, to distinguish the effects from the super sticky rubber tread and the super-slow rebounding injection-molded mid, I can certainly say that my feet stay in place without a second thought, when combining the Latch shoes with my favourite pedals. If you are landing bigger drops than I do or otherwise finding your feet are getting bounced off your pedals, then Mute is probably a concept that will speak to your flat pedal shoe needs.

I've ridden at least half a dozen different shoes with the OneUp Composite pedals and three different pairs with the NSB Daemon pedals and nothing comes close to the tenacious grip of the Giros with either platform. I have not ridden either pedal with FiveTen's though, so I cannot provide a comparison there.

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It's been nice to have some moisture lately. No doubt, the Giro's will be my go-to shoes for the greasiest and gnarliest rides this winter.

Giro Latch Shoe NSMB AndrewM (22).JPG

They stay planted on rough descents without a second's thought, but the climbing traction is equally impressive if you're trying to hit tech ups with flat pedals.

Tack V. Toughness

The Match rubber soles of the Stamp shoe are worthy of a spot in the high-grip conversation - versus the mechanical, tread related grip of the shoes I usually love - but I've never considered removing pins from my pedals the way I would with the top end Stealth rubber from Five Ten or the Giro Tack rubber. I'd love to read a follow-up review from an NSMB reviewer who's all in on tenacious rubber because, quite honestly, the Giro Latch shoes are more than a bit wasted on me for most of the rides that I'm doing.

I'll certainly be pulling them out for some rides this winter, especially when it's cold and wet and pedals are slick and rubber firms up a bunch but the Tack rubber makes them sometimes shoes for yours truly. I would be all over trying the Mute midsole concept with a mechanical-grip-focused sole like my Leatt 2.0 to see how much of an effect it has separated from the super tacky sole. More grip with a longer wearing sole would be a win-win.

Giro has delivered the quality of manufacturing and materials to command the 150 USD asking price and these are a million miles better than Giro's past efforts. These are a legitimate mountain bike shoe for all traction and weather conditions. While I would trade away a bit of sticky-rubber-grip for increased maneuverability and sole durability, from past comments on shoe reviews I'm certain that these will appeal perfectly to most NSMB readers.

The Latch shoes are competitively light at 324-grams each with no insole (or 395-grams each with my Esker wool insoles installed) and the manufacturing quality seems excellent to me. My tootsies much appreciated the more generous toe-box than the Giro shoes I've ridden in the past and I think these belong on any shortlist for the grippiest, and in most folks' minds, best flat pedal shoes on the market.

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Comments

IslandLife
+1 Andrew Major
IslandLife  - Sept. 8, 2021, 8:55 a.m.

Hmm... currently running the Crankbrothers Stamp, have given them a good couple of months and just not impressed with the sticky-ness of the sole... a bit to much movement for me.  You briefly mentioned the Stamps and it seems the Giro's are quite a bit sticky-er then?

I am however, concerned by the amount of wear shown in just a month of riding (probably more like 3 months for me considering how much you ride).  Have they given up durability for all out grip?  Would these even last a year??!  I do alternate between clips and flats so that helps... but still, that wear looks pretty nasty for only a month of riding.

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AndrewMajor
+1 IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Sept. 8, 2021, 9:33 a.m.

The Stamps work great for me with the Daemons or OneUp Composites although I personally prefer a more mechanical grip situation like I get with the Leatt 2.0.

These have significantly, significantly more rubber traction than the Stamp. Too much for me for most situations.

To be fair, I wore these a lot and many of those rides were climbing out of the saddle on my single speed. My semi-educated guess is most riders will find the sole life similar to Stealth S1. I do think the uppers are awesome though.

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IslandLife
+1 Andrew Major
IslandLife  - Sept. 8, 2021, 2:52 p.m.

Thanks!  I'm also on OneUp Composites and find I really have to concentrate on keeping my heels down through the rough and steep... back forth with clipless doesn't help, haha.  I've been very impressed with the build quality, fit and finish of my now two and half year old Giro Chamber II's, so maybe I should keep it in the Giro family with the latch...

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AndrewMajor
+1 IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Sept. 8, 2021, 3:22 p.m.

Going back and fourth I enjoyed riding flats but never really progressed past basic competency. After a few months on flats exclusively I suddenly started making a lot of climbs I assumed I could only pull off clipped-in.

I haven’t clipped in on any of my bikes in over a year and I’m still constantly improving.

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IslandLife
+1 Andrew Major
IslandLife  - Sept. 8, 2021, 4:03 p.m.

Nice!  Ha, I rode flats for decades before clipping-in back in 2018.  So I come from the camp that doesn't seem to improve my climbing clipped in... ya I may slip a pedal or two every once in a while, but overall, I seem to be able to clean difficult gnarly tech sections easier in flats.  Think it's all in my head and the fear of not being able to unclip fast enough has me stopping earlier than when attempting the same section on flats.  But it's a trade-off as I'm definitely faster on fast chunky descents clipped in.  

Back in June, after riding clips exclusively for a few years, decided to try flats again just to make sure I wasn't picking up any bad habits and not using my clips to move and maneuver my bike.  Turns out I haven't been... but I've been having a ton of fun on my flats and cleaning way more tough techy climbs.

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AndrewMajor
+1 IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Sept. 8, 2021, 6:06 p.m.

Very interesting. At first, I thought it was coming down to my bike because I found some of the climbs nigh impossible on the single speed clipped in but it's true of multi-speed bikes as well. Some notable climbs - R&R and the Baden east of Expresso come to mind - that I could either clean or put a consistent dent in clipped in I just can't make happen with flats. I continue to strive. 

I'm also going to try a little easier gear on the one speed this winter. After my Cumberland trip this summer I added a couple of teeth to my chainring as I found my Shore gear was frustrating there even with flat pedals (I'd only ever ridden Cumberland clipped in and made some bad assumptions) --- yes, I know that sounds stupid because that meant I ran too easy a ratio there and now have too hard a ratio here, but I had to try it and I've been doing okay --- It sucks on flat or downhill pavement anyway so does it really matter if it sucks a few % more? Especially in the winter when the ground is slower on climbs and spicier on descents? Who knows, that's why it's an experiment. 

When it comes to speed, I totally agree. I'd be faster up and down if I threw some clip-in pedals onto the Lux Trail and the same would have probably been true of the Titan (and would certainly be true of my single speed). I just find I don't give a sh*t. I'm not trying to beat anyone in either direction and I'm having a lot more fun on flats.

I'm currently working on an editorial talking about my last year - all flats, all the time - because every single person I've talked to who rides both or is a recent convert to clip-in pedals (doesn't have decades of clipless under their belt) agrees that flat pedals are more fun. And the motivation for clipping in is usually about keeping up to or beating buddies up/down. Which, well, I don't know...

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Sept. 8, 2021, 12:25 p.m.

Those look like a great option!  I have backup 5.10s on the shelf for when mine wear out, so for the time being I'm much more interested in those NSB Daemon pedals you've been testing.  Specifically I'm curious as to how they stack up against the Chromag Daggas, with which the designers would have been far more intimately familiar than most.

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AndrewMajor
+1 khai
Andrew Major  - Sept. 8, 2021, 2:42 p.m.

It’s somewhere between a Dagga and a Scarab?! The pins work great without needing a deep sole where I find most my shoes sit high on the Dagga pins.

The Daemon also has in-house made axles and NA sourced materials (for the most part) which I think is cool.

I am going to put together a review but I want to get more hours on the guts.

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LWK
0
LWK  - Sept. 8, 2021, 2:18 p.m.

I guess I'll be the grouch...  :^)

$150US (~$200CAD?) is a bit rich for a shoe that appears it may not last more than a couple of months.  I used to get sick of my 5.10s lasting ~3/4 of a season but that would appear to be as good as it gets for me.  I tried the Shimano's a couple years back and only OK fit (a personal thing), I could live with the limited grip but the sole ground to bits in a few months and I didnt feel worth buying another pair.  I got a very nice pair of brand new Ride Concepts Powerlines for this season and havent been impressed either.  its a (really) nice shoe, the grip is good enough but the soles are shredded to bits and its been a down year for me for riding time. 

I was going to try a pair of the Specialized ones per AJ's articles but Jenson doesnt ship S products to Canada so I just got a new pair of the 5.10 Impact Pros and I think I'll leave it at that.  I know what I'm getting, the grip is as good as it gets from what I've read, and I know what to expect for wear.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 8, 2021, 2:45 p.m.

I don’t know that the equivalent Stealth sole would look any better, I suspect not. Climbing out of the saddle in a ~ big gear has always been hard on my shoes (flats a d clips) and these are by far the softest/stickiest rubber soled shoes I’ve ridden in years.

I’d love to read a follow up review from an NSMB tester that’s a Five Ten lover as I think these would stack up very well.

Fit is great (though personal) and the more generous toe box is especially welcome. Support is good too.

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Vikb
+1 Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 8, 2021, 2:27 p.m.

Is there even a shoe in this photo? I'm having trouble focusing with such blatant bikeporn marketing techniques!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 8, 2021, 2:46 p.m.

Hahahaha. Cheers Vic!

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HughJass
+2 Andrew Major Cam McRae
HughJass  - Sept. 8, 2021, 8:47 p.m.

I have read this site for years and have just now felt compelled to create an account to comment. 

Somehow I thought I was the only one that had wear patterns on my shoes that indicate one foot is farther forward than the other on the pedals. In the sole photos here it appears it is a full lug difference for you. 

I am a flat pedal guy through and through however I do ride road bikes as well and spent years riding clips along side flats. This urge for different positions on the pedal has always made riding clips a challenge in recent years as it feels unnatural. I’m curious if you have had similar experiences or if it is a non issue setting up cleats symmetrically. 

Regardless, I love the site and appreciate the unique perspective compared to other sites. Cheers from Colorado!

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AndrewMajor
+1 Cam McRae
Andrew Major  - Sept. 9, 2021, 7:19 a.m.

Hello, and thanks for the awesome comment. It hadn’t registered with me at all but in my case I’m not surprised. And actually my other flat shoes tell a similar story.

Clip-in pedals have lots of float - and I rode them forever - so I don’t think it was ever an issue for me.

With the flats, where my feet are free to self-home a bit I’m not surprised that me lack of symmetry shows up. It may be a reason my body prefers less-sticky shoes. A lifetime of working standing on concrete (from pool decks, to bike shops) has left me with a bunch of interesting poses for coping. I’ve actually been doing a lot of CARS mobility lately to try and deal with some underlying issues.

I’m going to get a calipers out and maybe write up this observation across a few pairs. Much appreciate the idea!

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HughJass
+2 Andrew Major Cam McRae
HughJass  - Sept. 9, 2021, 7:28 a.m.

I have ridden several different clip pedals over the years and your point about lots of float holds true for me as well. I end up riding a bit duck footed with my left/rear foot that wants to further rearward to compensate for the uneven feeling. Well broken in crank bros systems work for me.

My body is pretty uneven as well from a variety of things as well. Counter point though, I like the grip and muting of Impact Pros for trail riding on full suspension and hardtail. Smooth easier trails, I prefer a softer sole with a little less grip that makes it easier to pop and play.

I would be interested to read an article on uneven foot placement from your perspective. Keep up the great work! I like reading the kid articles as well. I appreciate the elbow pads for knee pads idea and all the other ideas for making it more fun for my kid!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 9, 2021, 9:43 a.m.

Interesting. Crankbrothers works best for me as well in terms of float and release. 

Absolutely I find it easier to ride in a sticky shoe like the Latch (more unexpected slips with less grippy shoes).

Thanks much & will do.

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