Carnac Sirius ligne Pro £137
RSI 0208 965 2510
Carnac in the north of France is famous (well among pre-historians anyway) for its huge stone block alignments that have remained intact for thousands of years. Amongst cyclist, pre-historic or otherwise, Carnac shoes have become famous for a similar level of solid indestructibility.
Whether we’ve got particularly destructive hooves, we’re not sure, but it’s not often we have a pair of shoes that stay happy and healthy for over a year. Most look very sorry for themselves after only a few months. Among the team we’ve got a pair of Carnac shoes bought over a decade ago that are still going strong.
Anyway enough of pre-historic stones and shoes, what of the latest shoes from the French cobblers?Test Logbook:
We’ve beaten seven shades of shot out of these shoes round Yorkshire, Wales and the rocky trails of the Sierra Nevada for several months. So far all that’s happened is a strap pressure point we noticed on the first ride has disappeared and we’ve lost the stick-on reflector off one heel. The sole and tread don’t look as new as they once did, the upper probably will if we get round to cleaning it, but if anything everything is working better than before now the initial hard shininess has gone.
Heart and Sole
The sole of a race shoe is crucial to transferring maximum power to the pedal, but if it is too stiff you’ll ache and blister during extended rides. There’s no clever ‘peek a boo’ carbon, or intricately carved support structures to tempt the eye, just a good solid sole. The good news is that Carnac have also dropped their old “different insert for every cleat type” sole fitting, in favour of conventional twin slot SPD style fitting.
They might be simple soles but the Carnacs offer an excellent balance of no obvious sole deflection of flop however hard you pedal but there’s no ache or pressure hot-spots around the cleat by the end of the day either.
The tread hasn’t changed in a while, but then again neither has mud. Simple cut out curved blocks are stable enough for scree scrambling, clear mud quickly and there’s a good platform around the cleat to stop undue steel skating. The sole is ready drilled to handle a pair of studs for winter.
Uppers or downers?
While every other top shoemaker insists on some sort of cunning ratchet system to fasten round your foot, the Sirius Ligne Pro stays with the proven simplicity of heavy duty Velcro. Not just any old straps though, but carbon wrapover strips with the top strap passing through a ladder lock buckle which keeps strap tension totally secure even without the Velcro done up.
The fit and structure of the upper is important to the totally-secure feel of the shoe. A neoprene tongue comes right up the front of the ankle, while large plastic plates on top spread the strap pressure over the top of the foot. The main strap is also anchored right under the sole on both sides so that isn’t going anywhere. The only thing to note is that it makes the shoe slightly harder to get on and off than most, so look elsewhere if you’re into sudden shoe swapping for duathlons etc.
The ‘last’ (template the shoes is made around) is also broad enough for plenty of toe wriggling space around typically wide and blunt north European feet – as opposed to those winkle picking Mediterranean folk. The tough toe box with it’s double layer of thick leather also means you’re much less worried about stubbing and scuffing your tender pinkies than you are in more lightly upholstered speed slippers like Sidi’s.
The rest of the upper is also tough stuff. A mixture of thick black and silver leather, tough thick mesh and plastic reinforcement strip around the padded ankle cuff, with a big moulded plastic heel cup to your foot stable and protected. The mesh is a pain in wet weather or water splashes, but it’s not too windy and duct tape across the inside will seal the shoe fairly well for winter.
Inside the shoe there’s another high quality bespoke touch from Carnac. The insoles use a flexible plastic cradle under the instep to support the foot and stop ache and numbness. It’s not as bells and whistles as the Specialized Body Geometry shaping, but it certainly contributes to the snugness and superb long day comfort of the shoe.Verdict:
As a hard riding race or trail shoe, nothing we’ve used comes close to the Carnac Sirius as a balance of performance and protective feel. It hasn’t got the bells and whistles of other expensive shoes, but it does have legendary durability and simple, faultless performance from every part of the design. All this costs in price and in weight (they’re 450g each – 100g heavier than the equivalent Sidi’s) which obviously won’t suit everybody – or be even remotely affordable – but they’re a great investment for your feet if your wallet will stretch.