Craft beer, single barrel whiskey and handmade wines are each delivered to your palette with the promise of superior quality. Often the story behind the label, the brew or the cru enhances the experience and enjoyment. For the same reason, cyclists will turn to QUOC cycling shoes. I met Quoc Pham in Berlin many years ago and gained an immediate appreciation for his cycling shoes and style. Unlike the majority of cycling brands who focus on performance as their ultimate objective, QUOC is about aspiration and passion.
The QUOC range cycling shoes centres around urban and touring cycling and last year they launched The Night, their foray into full-blooded road cycling shoes. If Rapha or Vulpine is down your alley, if you dream of (or even own) a custom-made bike, then QUOC is a brand you need to know.
My cycling evolves around road riding with only a touch of MTB, commuting and urban cycling, so I was excited by the launch of the road cycling shoes and being able to embrace the brand. But my dream was short lived, the beautifully packaged black shoes are slender and elegant however their size 43 was no match for my size 43 which are not slender and probably not elegant. The length was spot-on but the pressure on the sides were signal, if I want beauty and style, my pedal-strokes will be painful.
When it comes to wider feet, I am not alone, in the Australian Cycling Forums a lot of cyclists ask which brands will suit their feet; some brands are known for their broader fit and there are even some shoe brands which have models specifically for narrower and wider footed cyclists. QUOC are considering a wider version but for this review I asked a very skilled rider, Chris Blomfield-Brown, to take over the on-road testing. Chris is lucky to be a slender shoe size 43.
It’ all in the detail
The shoes are beautifully presented and a black pair was provided for review. Do you remember the leather cycling shoes from the days of old with laces and no velcro, ratchets or dials. My first pair of cycling shoes were black leather hand-me-down shoes with laces and were designed to fit in a toe cage – no cleats. The Night cycling shoes deliver sense of nostalgia and while it doesn’t have a contemporary ratchet, dial or velcro fastening system, the lacing system is unique and has been patented. QUOC claim that this lacing technique is as good as, if not better than velcro, ratchet and dials
In comparison to vintage sport cycling shoes from a bygone era, these road cycling shoes have a stiffer upper, a far stiffer sole and are truly a modern and functional shoe which celebrate cycling heritage.
The QUOC road cycling shoes have a carbon fiber and nylon composite sole. I did the ‘twist test’, not a dance contest but twisting the shoe sole and I found it to be consistent with other cycling shoes I have with the carbon fiber and nylon composite. For the on-road test, Chris found that the soles were comfortable, but soft when comparing with performance road racing shoes. The soles support a 3-bolt system so natively fit Shimano SPD-SL cleats and Look Keo cleats while Speedplay riders need to use the 3-bolt to 4-bolt adapter.
The construction and production quality of the shoes is second to none. These are as fine as the finest Italian cycling shoes. The attention to detail and style is a continuation of the brand legacy, this is what QUOC stands for.
I like the reflective 3M stripe on the heel which is a plus for visibility and safety when riding in the dark.
The Night comes in three colours; black, white and pink which are all synthetic uppers and a bit cheaper and 40g lighter with the target weight of 277 grams (554 grams / pair). Slightly heaver and for a few extra British pounds there is a black leather version with immaculate stitching. The version in review are the black synthetic version.
On the road with The Night
For the on-road testing, we are handing over commentary to Chris Blomfield-Brown. This review included updated information as we tested the first generation The Night and a new version is available – further details are below.
This was my first pair of lace up cycling shoes so was curious to try them out. My first impression was chic! The moment I put them on I had an urge to ride my fixie and head to the trendy coffee shops and show off. Seriously they look outstanding and are fun to wear and won’t look out of place at the coffee shop or even the board meeting.
They are easily the best road shoes to walk in that I have ever encountered. Compared to most cycling shoes – these felt like running shoes (figuratively). If I had a mechanical failure and had a walk I would want to be in these shoes.
I have the type of feet that are hard to please when it comes to seeking a comfortable home in most cycling shoes. The QUOC shoes were adjustable enough for my fussy feet. The lace system has two sets of double holes so the lacing can hold different tensions in the upper and lower part of the lacing. Investing a little time at first made for a great fit right out of the box.
For long rides the shoes are however just OK, they are adjustable but are not easily adjustable on the fly. Often on a long ride or during a race you want to alter the tension of the shoes for comfort or performance. With the lace-up system this is not practical and would require stopping and redoing the laces.
I would also rate the performance as OK, for club and some track racing and training they are adequate. The relatively soft sole makes them great for walking but maybe not as ideal for racing. During a race when you are looking for the stiff platform to transfer the power, the comfortable walking trade off may not perform as well as the ultra-stiff racing shoe.
Where these shoes really shine is everyday cycling, I want to commute with these shoes and wear them into the office and leave them on all day. Or do the morning group ride concluding at the coffee shop. They are stylish and fun to wear and instantly give me that urge to ride my fixie. But when I am out to do a century ride or an important race, I have to choose a different set of shoes for the day.
But wait… QUOC Update
Our commentary returns to Christopher Jones.
For this review, we tested the first generation shoes. Since their release, QUOC has made significant updates and The Night are now in their second generation. While the on-road experience is accurate for the first generation shoes which we tested, QUOC have provided comparison photos of the original and new carbon fiber nylon composite sole.
The side walls of the new sole are higher which significantly increase rigidity (stiffness), a thicker heel and nose increase wear resistance and it is also a wider fitting sole so will provide a better fit for riders like me.
Do you or don’t you?
Don’t buy if you:
• want budget gear or it it is all about the price
need an ultra-stiff sole and adjustability on the fly
• want a shoe
for competitive racing or long-distance
have wide feet
Do buy if you:
• are a keen cycle commuter or social bike rider
• value comfort over performance
• want quality, style and soul
Do read this update:
The new version shoe resolves the criticism on the sole stiffness and fitting wider feet. The unique lacing system is retained which means considering whether you need adjustability on-the-fly.
If you are a competitive cyclists, these are your second pair of shoes, the ones you save up for social rides because they look great and are super comfortable. The new versions (not tested) promise a better fit for wider fit and a stiffer sole so that they are better suited for competitive cycling.
For everyday riders commuting to town on the road bike, The Night’s are ‘boardroom approved’ (well maybe not the pink ones… but the white ones are right at home on the golf course).
Behind the seriously good looks is seriously well made footwear and I anticipate the attention to detail in the design and manufacturing will translate into a long lasting cycling shoe.
QUOC do not have Australian distributers or stockists… yet. The cycling shoes however can be ordered online. The pre-brexit currency exchange rate translates into AUD $390 for the synthetic version and AUD $420 for the black leather cycling shoes (including shipping).
Updated 2.2.2017: QUOC provided updated information on the brand new version which resolves some of the issues noted during the test of the original version The Night cycling shoes.