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Rapha Grand Tour Shoes Review

My Trek FX 7.5 had platform pedals.  I didn’t need special shoes to ride it.  My steel Alchemy would be delivered with clipless pedals.  Any shoe would no longer do.  I needed cycling shoes.  Some research on the internet pointed me toward the Sidi Genius 5-Pro Mega.  The “Mega” designation indicates that this shoe is wider than the standard Sidi Genius 5-Pro.

Sidi Genuis 5

I was guilty of showrooming with this purchase.  I tried the shoes for size at a bike store, but bought online.  A practice that does not support local retailers.  A practice that I try not to repeat.

Despite being “Mega” the Sidis are slightly narrow in the forefoot for me.  This isn’t a problem on shorter rides, but I develop “hot foot” once the ride exceeds about 60 km / 37 mi or so.  At times I have had to completely unfasten the caliper buckles and loosen the velcro straps to get some relief.

The Sidis came with me to Den Haag.  I swapped out the insoles, which helped a bit with the “hot foot” problem.  Perversely the shoes didn’t keep my feet warm enough in the Dutch winters.  There wasn’t enough room in them for thick woolen socks.  A pair of Endura neoprene  shoe covers delayed, but didn’t prevent, the onset of frozen toes.

My next cycling shoe purchase was the Shimano SH-RW80 Winter Road Shoe.  I liked those shoes so much that I wrote a review that appeared on roadbike review.com.  I took the advice of other reviewers and went two sizes larger than my Sidis.  That gave me plenty of room in the toe box for my wide feet and thick socks.

20080_1_Shimano_SH_RW80GORE_TEXRennrad_Winterschuh-700x525

As Spring 2012 approached I saw posts in cycling blogs about a new shoe.  The Rapha Grand Tour shoe.  First John Watson posted thirty nine captioned photographs of these shoes in his excellent Prolly is Not Probably.  Soon after Wade Wallace ran a review and posted more photographs in his equally excellent Cycling Tips.

I looked at the Rapha site.  I was smitten with the version of the shoes in white.  My biker chick liked them too.  All of a sudden I needed new shoes!

Rapha Grand Tour New 2

It was my good fortune to be in the UK in April 2012.  I went into Condor, Rapha’s retail partner in London.  They had a pair in my size.  The shoes smelled soft and warm in the way that only leather does.  The perforated uppers had style.  The single black strap and the absence of large logos gave the shoes a minimalist look.

I love my Grand Tours.  I still have the Genius Pro-5s, but they are very much my back-up shoes.  The only time I wear them is when the Grand Tours are sitting in a cool airy spot, tongues flipped up and insoles removed, drying out after a wet ride.

You can read the online reviews of these shoes or go to the Rapha site to get all the technical details.  For me the winning qualities are the fit and comfort that make these shoes unnoticeable when I am riding.

I have put almost 11,000 km / 6,835 mi into these shoes in fourteen months.  They get better with age.  Like the leather in Brooks saddles, the leather in these shoes breaks in with use.  The Grand Tours have moulded to the contours of my feet.  The customizable cork / EVA footbeds have also formed themselves to the soles of my feet.  These shoes fit like gloves.

Robust gloves at that.  This is what the sole of the shoe looks like out of the box.

Rapha Grand Tour Sole 1

These are the soles of my shoes today.

Rapha Grand Tour Sole Now

The heel cups and toes are scuffed, and the soles are scratched from the times I walked on stones and gravel.  The white rubber bumpers on the heels show the most wear.  These are non-replaceable so it will be interesting to see how long it is before they wear down to the carbon soles.

Rapha Grand Tour Toe

One buckle bears evidence of a low-speed fall.

Rapha Grand Tour Buckle Now

Apart from that the shoes are holding up very well.

Rapha Grand Tour Now

Even the insoles, with their homage to Fausto Coppi on the left and Jacques Anquetil on the right, show little sign of wear.  These are the insoles before any use.

Rapha Grand Tour Insole New

These are mine now.  The images and text are still legible despite thousands of kilometers in all weathers.

Rapha Grand Tour Insole Now

The Grand Tours have not needed any special care.  Just a wipe down with a damp cloth, careful drying when they get soaked, and the application of some shoe cream once in a while has kept them looking good.   I expect to get at least another 11,000 km out of these excellent shoes.

Apart from a proper bike fit and quality bib shorts, shoes are the key to a comfortable ride.  In that regard the Rapha Grand Tour shoes are worth their weight in gold.

About alchemyrider

I left Malaysia in 2008 as a non-cyclist. I am back home now with two road bikes and all the paraphernalia that goes with being addicted to cycling.

13 responses »

  1. Hi there

    Thanks for writing a review on the GT shoes. Just wondering how they’ve held up since that review?

    How many kms have you ridden on them now? Have the heel pads worn out to the carbon yet?

    And did the heel cups fall apart on you at all?

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Hi there,
      I’ve put another 7,500 kilometers into the GT shoes since I wrote the review. About 18,500 kilometers since April 2012. They have been in two crashes since the review, and on a few rides through thunderstorms. The uppers have a few scrapes on the heels and toes from the crashes. But no ill effects from being soaking wet.

      The heel cups are fine. The heel pads are worn almost to the carbon. One pad has come loose on one side. I keep meaning to glue the loose side down, but haven’t got around to it yet.

      So my only criticism is the non-replaceable heel pads.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Rapha Grand Tour Shoes Extended Use Review | Old Roots, New Routes

  3. how was the sizing comparison of this GT shoes assuming you owned Sidi..or compared to other brands that your wearing? Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi,

      My first pair of cycling shoes are Sidi Genius 5-Pro Mega, size Eur 44. I still have them. The size 44 GT Shoes felt slightly tight when new, but 44 is the right size for me. 44.5 in the GT Shoes would have been just a bit too big.

      Johan

      Reply
  4. Hi Johan, did you find any stretch in the length of the shoe? I have a pair 46.5 and 47…my toe is snug against the front of the 46.5 but I am concerned that the 47 could start feeling loose if there is much stretch after breaking them in. I usually wear 47 in SIDI.

    Reply
    • Hi Walter. I apologise for the tardy reply.

      I haven’t noticed any stretch in the Grand Tour shoes. I think I bought a half size too big anyway at 44.5. I now have a pair of Climber’s shoes, size 44.0. Those fit nicely, and do not seem to have stretched either.

      Cheers,
      Johan

      Reply
  5. Hi,
    Do they streach to a bigger size after use?
    I’ve just bought these super cool shoes in size 46, and they are very comfortable from the very first time.
    But I’m a bit concerned that the leather will streach to a point that my heel will plunger.
    There’s a 1-1,5 cm to the tip of the shoe.
    Best Regards
    Kasper Obel, Denmark

    Reply
    • Hi Kasper,
      I haven’t noticed any stretch in my Grand Tour shoes.
      I have had them for about 4 years now. On a few rides the shoes got completely soaked in the rain. Even that did not cause any stretching.
      Enjoy your shoes.
      Best wishes,
      Johan

      Reply
      • Hi Johan,
        Thanks for the reply.
        So your shoes were not extremely tight at first?
        My shoe fits perfect from the start, and in some reviews people say that their shoes started up being extremely tight.

        Such a shame buying a pair too big or to small.

        B.R. Kasper

      • Kaspar my GT shoes fit very well from the start. In fact I probably bought a half size too big. It hasn’t been a problem though. I still love the fit of these shoes.

    • I’ve owned a pair of gt shoes since Jan 2015. For the first 8-9 months they fit perfect, size 41.5eu which is what I usually wear. Since the fall/winter, the shoes have stretched noticeably after wearing thicker socks. Now when I put them on with summer pro team socks, I have to Velcro them down way more and ratchet down the strap to the last notches. I would say they fit more like 42eu now. If I were to do it over again, I would have bought a size smaller. I would recommend you to buy it in two sizes and choose the tighter one. They will for sure stretch. Mine did

      Reply
      • I don’t have that challenge Cefiro. Where you make your feet ‘bigger’ by wearing thicker socks than you usually do.

        In your case I can see the logic of buying a size larger to accomodate thick socks. I never ‘expanded’ my feet so haven’t forced my shoes to stretch.

        Johan

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