When QUOC launched their gorgeous Night lace-up road cycling shoes, the UK brand was like a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, they had evolved. Now QUOC are starting to unfurl their wings and take flight with the launch of their new Gran Tourer Gravel shoes which deliver adventure and functionality with style.
The thing about QUOC is that the brand has always been about premium and functional cycling shoes, but now they are moving beyond the classic elegance and venturing into new territory, this began with the Night road shoes and is continuing with the new Gran Tourer gravel shoes. It is still a premium quality cycling shoe but the classic elegance concedes to a new and rebellious look. As a preview, I was able to get a first-hand look at their (preproduction) shoes, they are beautifully packaged and were a surprising pink and brown colour scheme. Whether you love or hate the style, you can’t deny that these are real head turners.
Once you get over the colour aesthetics, beneath the facade you will find an equally surprising set of features on these SPD shoes. But so you don’t get turned off if pink is ‘not your thing’, there are a few more colour versions, a subtle black and a subtle green camouflage version but also a full-black version if you want to tone it down completely.
These are lightweight at 375 grams each (without cleats) for the size 42.5 (UK 8.5). The rubber sole appears to make up most of weight and just touching it with your fingers, you can already anticipate how well it will hold up in wet and rocky or loose surfaces. The rubber is very grippy and has a little bit of compliance but overall remains fairly rigid so it wont deform and let you down. They remind me of my trusty and very expensive leather Scarpa hiking boots… you simply know you can rely on them. And speaking of hiking, though the Gran Tourers are not high top boots with ankle support like traditional hiking boots, the versatility as a cross-over cycle touring and hiking shoe is undeniable.
The rubber sole is described by QUOC as a custom-specced proprietary rubber compound which they call GravelGrip™ The rubber sole appears to be in-moulded (or at least very well adhered) with the carbon composite midsole. This means that the rubber sole is backed by the very stiff carbon composite. It was very difficult to get any flex out of the sole which is exactly what you are aiming for in a cycling shoe.
The shoe upper is one piece but for added water protection, it is designed to be waterproof from the sole all the way up to the pink border. Many cycling shoes can allow water in from the cleat mount though the sole on the Gran Tourers is completely sealed. You still have the ability to adjust the cleat position (fore / after / rotation) but this almost invisible feature means you will be able to handle wet weather and keep your feet much dryer for much longer. To top this off, the tongue is gusseted towards the front so also helps prevent water seeping in.
The lacing system continues a theme introduced in the Night road cycling shoes with the so-called ‘Double-Lock’. If you are familiar with road cycling shoes or MTB shoes that have different fastening mechanisms such as velcro, ratchets and dials, the intentions is to allow different tensions to be set. For a ride you may be more comfortable with a looser fit at the front of the show and tighter fit up the top towards the ankle, or vice versa. The extra lace holes, positioned at the front of the shoe and towards the top are part of a patent-pending lacing system that allows the laces to be locked in the different parts of the shoe so different tension can be set in different parts to give you the comfort and fit you need.
In practice, you will need to try the cycling shoes on and spend a little times getting the most comfortable lacing. Should your laces come undone while walking or cycling, the double-lock holds the laces very well in place and retains tension.
The overall construction quality is superb, but from QUOC I already expect a finely crafted cycling shoe so this is not a surprise. Another small detail worth highlighting is the reflective strip on the back of the shoe. Reflectors on the shoes are simply good, any vehicles following you at night will then track your feet pumping up and down so the reflectivity it is a great advertisement for encouraging drivers to give you the safe space you deserve. On the Gran Tourer Gravel shoes, this black strip illuminates against bright lights.
The cycling shoe sizing for the QUOC Gran Tourers may be a challenge for some riders. Although the Gran Tourer is a bit wider than the thinly-cut Night cycling shoes, the size 42.5 preview shoes (size 8.5 UK / 9.5 US) are tight enough that I have to consider whether the next size is better. My feet can also swell while cycling which can turn a narrow shoe into a torture device.
If I follow the QUOC size recommendations and just use my foot length, the suggested size for me would be the 41.5 (UK 7.5) which I know is too small. The size 42.5 (UK 8.5) preview pair of shoes are a very exact fit. Simply taking time to correct adjust the laces and the tension gave me a much better balance between comfort and fit.
As a tip, should you have wide feet, consider whether the extra (unnecessary) length up front is the right tradeoff. Don’t forget to consider your socks, road cyclists may have thinner socks for touring you may prefer thicker socks. While I don’t want to put you off the QUOC Gran Tourers, be realistic when looking through the sizing because it would be a shame to prioritise the look and style of these over your comfort and performance on your next epic bike trip.
If you have decided that the QUOC Gran Tourer gravel shoes are irresistible, the good news is that they have just started a kickstarter campaign. The crowdfunding helps the brand get the message out but also gives you access to attractive early bird pricing.
The retail price is roughly $390 (and I expect shipping is extra). If you purchase over kickstarter, early backers will save 40% and get the shoes as soon as July while others will still save 30% off the retail price with delivery around September.
For details and specs on the Gran Tourer cycling shoes, visit the QUOC website.
This is the QUOC Gran Tourer Kickstarter campaign with discounted pricing.