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Mavic Alpine XL Clipless Shoe

Average User Rating: (Outstanding)
Vital Rating: (Excellent)
Mavic Alpine XL Clipless Shoe Mavic Alpine XL
C70_mavic_alpine_xl C70_mavic_alpine_xl
Vital MTB Retail Partners:
Chain Reaction Bicycles Jenson U.S.A. Competitive Cyclist Backcountry

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    Vital Review

    “Tested: Mavic Alpine XL Clipless Shoes”

    by Joe Schneider

    Mavic’s trail-focused mountain bike shoe, the Alpine XL, bridges the gap between their cross country line and the downhill shoes on the market by combining some interesting features from both heritages. We put it to the test to see what that mix translates to in actual on-the-trail performance.

    Alpine XL Shoe Highlights

    • Contagrip Rubber Sole
    • XL Vent Tongue
    • Quick Lace system
    • Ergo Fit OrthoLite Insoles
    • Lace cover
    • Synthetic and mesh upper materials
    • EVA midsole
    • Mid ankle protection with perforated neoprene
    • Toe and heel protection
    • Higher volume fit
    • Sizes 3.5-13 US
    • Weight: 410 grams
    • MSRP $130

    Initial Impressions

    When I lifted the Alpine XL shoes out of their box, I was surprised by how light they were, how thin the material was and by the flexibility of the sole. They were much less bulky than what I had expected.

    When I first put them on they felt good, the padding in the back cupped the heel of my foot nicely and the neoprene cuff was not too tight. The length was slightly on the shorter side of all the other brand size 44 EUR shoes I have previously owned, but they did feel the same length as my other pair of Mavic shoes. Although they were slightly short, the little bit of extra room in the toe box made this acceptable. For your reference as you're reading this, my foot is low volume and my instep is not very tall. I have a medium arch and medium width feet.

    On The Trail

    Some of my initial impressions were confirmed once I got on the bike. I was really satisfied with the weight and the fit. The length was fine and the insoles were comfortable and supportive in the right places. The padding that cups the heel wraps around both sides of the ankle. This provides nice support but I did notice some marks on the side of the shoe from the crank arm rubbing. The neoprene cuff found on the top of the shoe did a good job of keeping debris out, which kept the ride more comfortable and my socks a bit cleaner.

    The material on either side of the shoe is a pattern of synthetic leather and mesh which helps keep the temperature in check. In contrast, the top of the toe is solid material and not mesh, more like a DH shoe - which in turn helps keep water out and provides a nice wind block on cold rides. The guard which wraps the front of the toe sort of resembles a truck bed spray on liner. It will help keep the shoe from being damaged but only provides light impact protection because it is very flexible.

    The sole has enough flex that it is nice for walking or hiking, whether on the trail or grabbing a bite to eat. I did not notice the flex in the sole while pedaling or riding, so I decided it was not a bad characteristic. The tread is a hybrid of an XC style along the cleat but with good coverage all around - additionally the knobs are made from a rubber compound that will actually grip rocks and dirt. Overall I was very impressed with the function of the shoe and the unique features like the neoprene cuff.

    Things That Could Be Improved

    I was very excited about these shoes but was quickly disappointed by the lacing setup. The quick lace system extends from the toe to the ankle. It has a metal eyelet on either side, very high up on the ankle, actually above the strap. For my foot, with its squat profile, I could not get the quick lace to distribute the pressure where needed. It was very tight around my ankle and very loose along the whole length of my foot. It also caused the metal eyelets to severely dig into my ankles, even if there was hardly any tension at all in the laces. The strap was completely useless because it only added further pressure to the one area the laces were already digging into.

    I decided to fix the problem. I cut the laces and unthreaded them from the top two sets of eyelets, the metal ones and the ones directly under the strap. I put the keeper back on and tied the laces back together. Now, the laces tighten my foot as securely as I need and the strap holds my ankle exactly where I want it. There are no longer any bad pressure points from the metal eyelets. The transition in feel is seamless between the laced up area and the strap. Additionally, the laces now fold up nicely under the lace cover instead of the in the pocket in the tongue, which I find more convenient anyway. Changing the lacing took these shoes from the most uncomfortable pair I have ever had to my favorite pair of mountain bike shoes. Some people with a higher volume foot may not have this issue but this is my fix for those who don’t.

    Long Term Durability

    There is a lot of stitching and bonding between all the different materials, patterns and the sole. I feel like those places are more prone to failure, especially where the sole meets the side at the ball of the foot. Too much walking could cause the sole to separate at the ball of the foot and may also cause the already flexible sole to break down too much and become too soft for riding. However, the overall quality seems high and these issues should only occur towards the end of the shoe's life, if at all.

    What's The Bottom Line?

    The Alpine XL is great for all around riding. They are perfect shoes for epic rides and completely race capable for all day events. By combining many bike shoe characteristics Mavic produced a comfortable and functional shoe with rather unique styling as well as innovative and valuable features. The quirky lacing system doesn't work for every foot, but the fact that any issues can be easily fixed means these shoes can be considered by a majority of riders.

    For more info, cruise over to www.mavic.com.

    About The Reviewer

    Joe Schneider grew up in Durango, Colorado. Beginning in 2002, at the age of 13, he started riding mountain bikes and racing in the local race series. One thing led to another and he eventually made it into the mid-ranks of the pro cross-country field. Collegiate racing shed light on technical riding and he began to pursue longer travel bikes and most recently dirt bikes. He enjoys smashing through rocks or getting loose on flowy singletrack. Ultimately the alpine shuttle is his favorite, with a couple thousand feet of climbing and two or three times that in descending. He is currently a Mechanical Engineer who designs tools to blow things up. He loves to ride snowmobiles, motos, and mountain bikes whenever possible with his lady and many good friends. As a practiced mechanic, he enjoys spending the remainder of his free time fixing and maintaining all of his rides.

    Featured Review

    “Might this be the best non-Italian shoe for your feet? Well...minus a stormtrooper mistaken appearance.”

    The Good: Fit, weight, flex, price, grip, support

    The Bad: Look, neoprene boot practically useless, pressure points up top

    Overall Review:

    So, I had been rocking XC shoes since back in the day where I was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of SPDs. Mashing the pedals on the slippers is great because they're stiff as a 4x8 but because of the top section of my foot they were constantly falling asleep. Why? Well...because they were essentially being smashed against a 4x8 super stiff carbon board. I wasn't quite ready to dive into the world of flat pedals as I've gotten nice and used to the laziness of floating my feet around. Besides, my aging knees creak and moan at the mention of flat pedals. Fair enough.

    What would be the compromise? I wanted a shoe that had a good stiffness to it but not so much as to restrict the capillaries from receiving their mandated blood flow to keep the piggies going to market. After all, nobody wants to make it to market and then pass out. Right? I also didn't want to sacrifice the off the bike climbing qualities of an XC shoe(really? they do OTB?) to have a skate shoe look(and grip). I wanted a front box that would maybe flex so that walking wouldn't be painful or torturous or feeling like I had a set of roman 4x8 bricks strapped to my foot like XC slippers can sometimes exhibit. I was also tired of the Cinderella slipper looks of XC shoes(and the required spandex wear) but also didn't necessarily find any skate shoes with lugged soles either. Am I searching like Goldilocks? Am I impossible to please? Bear with me here.

    I tried them on at the store and they just slipped on. I'm not Goldilocks. I'm Cinderella. And I'm going to the ball mofo! They fit like a glove. That said, Mavic has always made shoes for me feet(adidas included). I have a high arch and a high arching top half to my foot. Now, while few shoes will deal with the top half of my foot, I also wanted to be able to fit in my orthotics and these have enough volume inside for that. But I found there wasn't a ton of need for the orthotics. The included insoles seem to work just fine. For once, I found myself riding and not feeling like I had to constantly adjust my shoes. I don't seem to have the upper section pressure like other reviewers I have seen across the web. The lacing system works really well for me. It's pretty no nonsense and easy to work. I have even marked the perfect spot with a sharpie to try to attain the perfect fit(knowing it will likely stretch over time). Anyway, I can go to the dance now because the shoes fit. The best part is I can drive to the dance in these if I'm running late. These are the first shoes I've ever a. felt comfortable enough to drive in and b. don't even notice half the time that I'm wearing bike shoes fully laced while driving and c. driven in while not transporting someone to a hospital.

    Now, would you be seen at the dance in these? No. Absofuckinglutely not! Well, unless you always rock white pants. They are ugly. Over the years Mavic has never either understood aesthetic or they're just proud French. I'm gonna lean towards the latter because they still insist everyone wants yellow. Luckily, these are the white shoe(the yellow is their top tier). One thing they DO have going for them is they don't use Mavic's ratchet system. I've had little luck with their ratchets over the years and they're like finding a unicorn in a magical forest. I've been lucky enough to find one replacement set over the years. They are just really hard to track down. I wanted a strap. I got a strap. And it's durable as anything out there with super strong velcro. These won't win you any style points but they keep dirt a little bit to make your friends forget about them enough to stop making fun of your moon boots. That said...they're waterproof(minus the tongue which has mesh) enough to keep me comfortable even in the mild winters of the NorthWet. I've worn them in all conditions save for snow and they've never really bothered me and I've never felt like I had to put my shoe covers on them.

    Let's get to the performance...shall we? Well, I was looking for a good stiffness but a decent front box flex. Wow! It's like Mavic was listening to me and heard my siren call. They have a great stiffness to them on the back 2/3. As a matter of fact they're likely not an XC super T89a24.1104 OSHA carbon footbed missing soccer spikes up front but I'm yet to say "man I wish these were more stiff!". The front toe box flexes for hike-a-bike and is the perfect balance. They are like wearing the perfect footbed with the right flex for real mountain biking. We're not tiptoeing through rocks like an XC racer. We're mountain bikers. We have suspension. But when we screw up and have to get off or you're rehiiking a section these are as comfortable as they get with superb grip. I had no issue with cleat clearance either. Using my Time cleats there's plenty of space all around and I've never had issues clipping in.

    So, really, is there much to fault with these? No. They're light, they have the perfect flex, they fit great(on my feet) and at $120 they're a complete steal. What's to dislike? Well, unless you're a total Star Wars nerd they're pretty stormtrooper-like and the neoprene cuff on the top is relatively useless(I get a lot of small pine needles and pebbles inside). Even more important: they're really hard to find! But if you can find them you should try them. They're a well thought out and well executed shoe for the every man who uses cheater pedals.

    “Super comfy, all day shoes”

    The Good: Very comfortable for riding and walking. Paired with XT trail SPD's. Light weight with good protection..

    The Bad: Nothing at all

    Overall Review:

    These are fantastic shoes. Very comfortable on and off the bike. Was a little unsure on the looks at 1st but don't notice them now.

    Vital MTB Retail Partners:
    Chain Reaction Bicycles Jenson U.S.A. Competitive Cyclist Backcountry


    Riding Type Trail
    Construction Lace cover // Synthetic and mesh upper // EVA midsole // Mid ankle protection with perforated neoprene // Toe and heel protection
    Pedal Type Clipless
    Sizes 3.5 - 13
    Colors White

    0 lb 14.5 oz (410 g)

    Miscellaneous Energy Ride // Trail Grip Outsole // Contagrip // Ergo Ride // XL Vent Tongue // Quick Lace // Ergo Fit OrthoLite // Higher volume fit
    Price $130.00
    More Info

    Mavic website

    Vital MTB Retail Partners:
    Chain Reaction Bicycles Jenson U.S.A. Competitive Cyclist Backcountry