(The Gear Loop) - As cycling continues to boom in the wake of the pandemic, more and more people are choosing to take their two-wheeled activities off the beaten track. Over the course of the last five years, gravel riding has gone from barely being recognised as a legitimate subgenre of cycling to having its own UCI-sanctioned 12-race series, not to mention an impressive spread of gravel-specific products.
One such piece of kit is the new Gran Tourer II from QUOC. It’s an updated version of the British cycling-footwear brand’s cult-classic Gran Tourer shoe, built specifically for the rough stuff, with QUOC’s proprietary dial retention system, a beefy lugged sole unit, vibration-damping insoles, and a much sturdier, stiffer build than its predecessor.
We wanted to see how the new shoe stacked up against the competition, so we spent the last two months putting the Gran Tourer II through its paces on everything from fast gravel rides to overnight backcountry epics.
This new model from QUOC brings (quite literally) stiff competition to the gravel shoe arena. It’s perfect for riders looking to go fast off-road, and will work well for a spot of bike-packing or touring for those who prefer a stiffer shoe. It’s a solid alternative to some of the best-selling gravel shoes on the market right now, and blows the competition out of the water when it comes to looks.
QUOC Gran Tourer II
- Excellent power transfer
- Good looks
- Dial mechanism works brilliantly
- Grippy sole
- Could be too stiff for some
- Taking them off can be a battle
In the loop
A quick look at the QUOC Gran Tourer II.
- Updated version of QUOC’s original Gran Tourer shoe
- Features QUOC’s in-house designed dial retention system
- Stiff nylon-composite midsole
- Quick-drying padding in key areas
- GravelGrip rubber outsole
- Single-piece uppers
- Air-hole ventilation
Fit and features
Every rider is different, but for us the Gran Tourer II fits perfectly. It runs true to size, has padding in all the right places, and allows the toes to move freely within, even when the retention system is fully tightened.
A lot of gravel shoes (and cycling shoes in general) run very narrow, which can make for an uncomfortable ride for those with wide or flat feet. There are no such complaints here though. The fit is sufficiently roomy, and even with only a single dial, the shoe still hugs the entirety of the foot well and locks it firmly in place.
Flexible isn’t a word we’d use to describe this shoe. The sole is very stiff, which is excellent for driving every last one of your watts through the cranks, but not so great if you find yourself doing extended periods of hike-a-bike.
That’s not to say they’re un-walkable - far from it - but it’s certainly something to consider if you often find yourself off the bike during your backcountry excursions.
The uppers are pretty solid, too. We liked this as it really made us feel locked in with our bike, and added to the feeling of responsiveness and overall stiffness.
One of our favourite things about this shoe is the dial. It turns clockwise to tighten and one click anti-clockwise to release. It ratchets up in very small steps, which means you can really fine tune the fit by fractions.
It turns nice and easily too, making it simple to operate with gloves, freezing-cold hands, or a combination of the two, as is often the case here on the Northumbrian coast.
The Gran Tourer II offers road-shoe levels of power transfer with walking boot-esque grip and traction on dirt, gravel and even mud.
Compared to the original Gran Tourer, the uppers are far less forgiving, but this makes sense when you take the shoe into the environments for which it was designed. Scuffs, scrapes and thorns are no match for the hardy microfibre upper, and the smoothness of the material makes it nice and easy to wipe down when it inevitably ends up caked in trail slop.
We’ve ridden this shoe in all conditions and found the ventilation to be good in warm weather without letting too much of the cold in on wintery days. That said, because of where the air holes are located, things can quickly become uncomfortable on the coldest of days, particularly on longer rides. Still, that’s what overshoes are for. You can’t have it all.
Fully recessed cleats mean that mud isn’t an issue. Our favourite local off-road loop features two steep muddy sections that have to be walked and are notorious for clogging cleats. No such problems with the Gran Tourer II. We were able to clip in as normal and continue on our way without having to dig muck out of the soles with a stick, as per usual.
We have to mention the looks, too. This is one of the best-looking off-road shoes out there right now, if not ever…. in our humble opinion. All the colourways look great, with QUOC’s signature extended rubberised rand running around the edge, but the pink and gum version we tested is the clear winner, if you ask us. Pairs perfectly with chich Rapha, MAAP and Le Col gear.
In terms of fit, we found the Gran Tourer II to be fairly comfortable, with plenty of width in the forefoot. This is in contrast to other gravel shoes we’ve tested, which tend to run quite narrow. Overall, it’s a great mid- to upper-range gravel shoe, particularly for those harder, faster off-road efforts that require a good amount of stiffness from a shoe.