If you’re a keen racer looking to buy a pair of lightweight, high performance shoes, the big players such as Shimano, Sidi, Specialized et al are hard to look past. But if you’re willing to delve a little deeper into the world of fancy cycling footwear (who doesn’t!?) there are some viable alternatives.
- Best XC race shoes: buyer's guide and recommendations
- Cross-country shoe showdown: Specialized S-Works XC vs Sidi Drako
Case in point is Spanish company Luck, who make its shoes in house, in… you guessed it, Spain. This means its high-end shoes are fully customisable to the nth degree. Whether it’s the overall look/design, Biomechanical/Metatarsus correction, or just odd shoe sizes, Luck can accommodate.
My feet are fairly standard, no awkward lumps or bumps, so I went for Luck's Stock Galaxy model in size 45. Luck offered me the choice of a custom design, but I stuck to a standard fluro yellow colourway. Although, if you did want something more striking, say your cat's face on your shoes, Luck can make this happen.
As expected, out of the box the Galaxys feel very light, 358g (each) light for a size 45. That’s up there with the feathery-est XC shoes I’ve tested, the Giro Empire VR90s. Sizing comes up slightly bigger than most shoes and there’s plenty of room around the toe box. If I were to try another pair of Luck’s I’d probably go down a half, or full size. Luck can also recommend you a size if you send through your measurements.
Trying the standard ‘can I make the soles bend in my hand test’ the Galaxy’s were very stiff, but not quite as unforgiving as brands such as Sidi or Shimano. That isn’t always a bad thing as a touch of flex can offer some comfort during tough rides.
Everything else on the shoe was suitably premium, with a fully perforated upper, BOA style dials and replaceable lugs on the sole. I’m always pleased to find replaceable lugs as who wants to spend all that money on high-end shoes, only to wear out the sole within a year and have to put them in the bin. I’m looking at you Mavic, Shimano, Specialized, Giro etc!
Out on the trail the Galaxys felt great. Particularly noticeable was the low stack height on the shoe, which translates into great pedalling manners/feel. This is down to the thin sole, so as previously mentioned, while they’re not quite as stiff as some, you do gain the advantage of a lower stack height.
I had to crank the dials fairly tight to ensure my heels didn’t slip, but this didn’t result in any hot spots and the shoes stayed comfortable throughout. With plenty of ventilation all over the upper my feet felt cool, although they did let in the worst of the elements during chilly winter rides.
The shoes have a fairly neutral last in terms of arch support, but they do have a pleasant contour/scoop at the toes and heel. This helps support your feet when putting the power down.
Finally with such a thin and minimal upper I didn’t have any issues with the shoes striking the crank arms. It’s a minor point, but I always worry if all that rubbing could be costing valuable watts during a race.
The Galaxys weren’t without faults though, the biggest culprit being the large vents on the carbon sole. During muddy rides these had a tendency to let in mud and grit that was nigh on impossible to fully clean out. I imagine a tough season of cyclocross racing could be hard on such a sole.
Having spoken to Luck, it also offers a sole without the vents, although you do forfeit the option of replaceable treads. Either way, it’s nice to know you have options depending on where you ride.
Last but not least, they’re not cheap coming in at €299 direct from Luck’s website. That being said, the price is competitive compared to other top-spec shoes on the market.
On the whole, I can highly recommend the Galaxys for any XC riders looking for a no compromise, performance shoe. It’s plenty stiff enough and can be fully customisable for all those folk with funny feet.
Coupled with low stack height, you can be sure all your watts are going where the need to, straight to the pedals. Just be aware if you regularly ride in wet/muddy conditions, you may want to try a different sole.