Giant Charge Elite Shoes: Quick Review – by Grannygear
What It Is: At Sea Otter 2019 I was shown the Giant Shoe system for MTB, road, etc. When I was offered a chance to try a pair, I chose the Charge Elite over the top end Charge Pro. At $275.00, the Charge Elite is in the upper-middle ground price wise between the Pro and the rest of the bunch. At this level you still get a Boa dial and some carbon in the sole. I have found that often the tippy-top end shoes are so stiff that walking in them is not fun at all and gravel sometimes includes a good bit of hike a bike. Besides that, 300 bucks is still a lot of cash for most folks but it’s attainable. Adding another 100 bucks on top of that might seem extravagant. Let’s look at the info form the Giant website:
- Exclusive thermoset carbon/glass fiber composite ExoBeam plate featuring a full rubber covered dual beam design increases power transfer and stability.
- Reinforced high-density, water resistant PU upper with laser cut micro-perforations combines optimal support with extremely low weight while providing optimal ventilation and promoting a balanced foot climate.
- On-the-fly micro-adjustment Boa® Fit System combines with ExoWrap for superior fit.
- Exclusive Slip-Last construction allows the forefoot to be stiff while enabling torsional ration of the rear and mid foot.
- Reversed forefoot strap ensures maximum comfort and a secure fit.
- Ultra grippy SharkSkin heel liner gives a secure, slip-free fit even under the harshest conditions.
- Molded TPU toe guard protects forefoot and features double secure cleat inserts.
- Removable sock liner with tunable arch support and TransTextura Plus™ antimicrobial layer promotes a balanced foot climate.
First Impressions: So the Charge Elite is my pick of the litter. It’s an understated look, simple and clean. The ExoBeam bottom end is supposed to add stability and power transfer. Will I be able to tell? Not sure. We shall see. You can feel the SharkSkin heel fabric that helps keep your foot from lifting in the shoe. It comes with two levels of arch support. Just pick the one you want and peel and stick. I chose the more aggressive one of the two.
I am a big Boa dial fan for shoes. That fine adjustment and the way the ‘string’ or line or whatever it is tensions the shoe better than a single strap does is well worth the cost in my book. Tension release and exit is quick with just a pull up on the dial. Getting out of the shoe takes a pretty full release as that Sharkskin fabric in the heel cup really holds your foot in there.
Ride Performance: I have ridden in these Charge Elites for many rides now. They have been in the mud, in the dry, seen good use and even a bit of hike-a-bike. My thoughts? The best shoes I have used in some time. Feet fitting into shoes are a bit like butts fitting onto saddles…very individual, but from the very beginning these have been so comfortable that I feel like I have been in them for a full season. No break in, no stiffness. No binding or pinching.
The single Boa dial has been very good, and along with the single Velcro strap down low on the fore foot, has not had me wishing for a second dial. The pull across the shoe with the Boa system has a very even feel to it, more so than I can get with multiple straps.
Stiffness is very good, but I have worn stiffer shoes. So if you are a watt crushing bruiser or a very heavy rider, then maybe look at the Pro version. Frankly I do not like a super stiff shoe as I think it feels uncomfortable in the long term, like pushing against a brick wall. The Charge Elites are very good to walk in, with just enough give to allow the shoe to flex slightly and not stress the heel of your foot as it tries to lift (but cannot due to the grippy fabric) with each step.
The rubber in the sole is not so hard that it is sketchy to walk on hard and smooth surfaces, like rounded stream bed rocks.
At The Finish: Does Exobeam make a big difference? I am not sure. I was not struck by any one thing in the shoe that was a standout, but rather as a whole they just continue to please me. So if Exobeam and ExoWrap are the reason, I raise a toast to them. My foot does feel stable in them and I have been using them on both an old set of SPDs (not the most supportive pedal) and a set of the recent Look Carbons which are an SPD clone, but have much more support to prevent sideways rocking of the shoe.
Honestly, as a reviewer, I don’t strain to find a fault in something just for it’s own sake, but if I had to, in these I would be at a loss. I simply have nothing bad to say about them. I even like the color.
Note: Giant Bicycles sent over the Charge Elite shoes for test and review at no charge. We were not paid nor bribed for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.