Did you ever wonder what cycling shoes Lionel Sanders wore this year at Kona? Here is the answer. They were the Garneau Tri Air Lites.
Luckily I was given a pair prior to the public release and have been testing them for a few months now so that I can give them a proper review.
Are they amazing? Yes. Are they comfortable? Yes. Are they the best cycling shoe I’ve worn? Yes. Are they expensive? Absolutely. Are they worth it? Probably.
Most Triathletes are aware that Garneau’s Tri-400 cycling shoes were one of the highest regarded triathlon cycling shoes available. Many of you probably own a pair. I do.
With the brand new Tri Air Lite cycling shoes Garneau teamed up with Lionel Sanders himself to take their gold-standard Tri-400 shoes and make them even better. Being one of the best cyclists in the sport of triathlon, Lionel Sanders surely knows a thing or two about cycling shoes.
So here is what they improved upon.
One of the biggest complaints with the Tri-400 shoes and practically all triathlon cycling shoes is the fit. Most high end cycling shoes feel great at first but because they need to be stiff and supportive they start to get tight as your foot swells during a ride.
The expansion of a rider’s forefoot coupled with the inability for a shoe to react often leads to the rider experiencing tingling, numbness, pain, hotspots, blisters, etc.
To solve that Garneau developed their patent pending “X-Comfort Technology” system which responds to the swelling of the foot and actually expands the shoe a bit without sacrificing any support. The technology can expand up to 5mm.
How did they pull it off? No idea but it works. It works really well. Besides the numerous awards that the technology has won I can also confirm that it works.
Space Grade Heat Shielding Material
Yes, you are reading that correctly. You know that normal mesh and plastic material usually used on cycling shoes? Not good enough for Garneau anymore.
Instead they wanted to make sure that your feet would be comfortable even if you decided to go for a spin on the surface of the Sun.
All jokes aside Garneau actually used a space grade material on the entire upper of this cycling shoe. The material has a unique 3D pattern embedded in it that literally reflects the Sun’s rays unlike anything else out there.
Once again I was skeptical about this claim but I must admit that it does work and isn’t a gimmick.
How I Tested It
I actually wanted to test this one so I set up my trainer outside and placed 3 car windshield reflectors at an angle that directed the sunlight right at my feet.
I rode for 1 hour then put a cooking thermometer in my shoe to see what the temperature was.
Then I did the same thing the next day with another brand’s high end cycling shoe to test the difference.
Besides forgetting to put on sunscreen and dealing with absurd sunburn on my lower legs the test went great. Here were the temperatures after each test:
- Tri Air Lite: 95.6 degrees Fahrenheit
- Other Brand’s: 107.2 degrees Fahrenheit
That may not seem like a big difference but trust me – it felt like a huge difference.
IceFil Transfo 3D Insoles
The Garneau IceFil technology has been around for a few years but this may be the first time I really noticed it working as intended.
Basically IceFil is a fabric technology where Xylitol is woven throughout the material. Xylitol is simply an alcohol based sugar substitute that is most commonly found in gums and other sugar free foods and drinks.
One of the unique aspects of Xylitol is the cooling effect that it produces when it comes into contact with air or water. Garneau’s IceFil insoles create an environment where your sweat and body heat can react with the Xylitol molecules in the fabric and produce a refrigerant essentially.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t like having an AC unit in your shoes. It isn’t that big of a difference. But when your feet first start to sweat and get hot you soon notice that suddenly they aren’t that bad anymore.
Anyone else here hate having high arches? If you are like me you know how painful long rides can be in traditional cycling shoes.
Luckily for all of us Garneau includes 3 sizes of interchangeable arch supports with every pair of the Tri Air Lite cycling shoes so that everyone has maximum comfort.
Features of the Tri Air Lite Cycling Shoes
- Shoe Technology : Dual X-Comfort Zone and Power Zone technologies
- Shoes Weight: 8.3 oz/235 g
- What’s Included: Shoe bag included
- Outsole: Patented Carbon Air Lite composite extremely ventilated outsole
- Insole: Ventilated IceFil Transfo 3D insole with 3 adjustable arches
- Closure System: Boa® L6 micro-adjustment, Hook and loop straps: Easy to adjust
- Price: $349.95
Final Thoughts on Garneau’s Tri Air Lite Cycling Shoes
It’s safe to say that the Tri Air Lite’s are the best cycling shoes I have worn to date. There may be better shoes for one particular thing like support or ventilation but none of them are this great at everything.
RELATED – Garneau’s Actifly Indoor Cycling Shoes Review
This shoe has everything you could want in a triathlon cycling shoe. Everything. You will not be disappointing by purchasing these.
I would say the only thing that makes me say “probably” instead of “yes” on whether they are worth buying is the price. All this innovation doesn’t come cheap. With a price tag of nearly $350 dollars you are paying a premium for features that may be the standard in a couple years.
But they aren’t right now and this is the only shoe that has them all.
Well done Garneau on once again creating the Gold Standard of triathlon cycling shoes. Well done.