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Giro Privateer R Clipless Mountain Bike Shoe ReviewBest Clipless Mountain Bike Shoe Review

Best Budget XC Clipless Mountain Bike Shoe

  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 70% 70%
  • Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability” 80% 80%
  • Comfort and Fit 70% 70%
  • Durability 70% 70%
  • Weight 90% 90%

Best Application: XC, Trail

Closure: Replaceable N1 Ratcheting Buckle Closure at Ankle, Two D-ring Velcro Straps at Midfoot

Sole: Nylon

Outsole: Co-molded Nylon and High Traction Rubber

Weight: 386g (size 43.5)

Upper Material: Microfiber

What We Like: Durable for XC Shoes, Lightweight, Good Power Transfer, Great Value

What We Don’t: Narrow Fit, Less Durable Than Terraduros

Price: $99.95

If Giro makes premium shoes to compete with the top offerings from other brands, their mid to budget offerings blow the doors off of those from other manufacturers. With the Giro Terraduro a no brainer choice for best value all-mountain and enduro shoe, the Giro Privateer R was just as obvious of a choice for best value XC shoe.

In mountain biking, like in motocross, “privateer” refers to a rider who does not have a sponsor that pays for everything. These riders are the heart and sole of professional mountain biking, and they have to rely on gear that provides the same performance that factory-sponsored racers get, but at a fraction of the cost, and the Giro Privateer R defines that type of gear to a T.

A note on sizing: Like most Giro shoes, the Privateer R runs a bit small and narrow, although not to the same degree as the Terraduro. Still, unless you have quite narrow feet, we recommend sizing up or opting for the Giro Privateer R HV.

Compare to Similar Products

See Our Best Clipless Mountain Bike Shoe Review!

Shimano ME7

  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 80% 80%
  • Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability” 100% 100%
  • Comfort and Fit 90% 90%
  • Durability 90% 90%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Pros

Comfortable

Versatile

Great Power Transfer

Great Off the Bike Traction

Cons

Not the Cheapest Nor the Lightest Clipless Mountain Bike Shoe

Best Application: Enduro/All-Mountain

Closure: Speed Lace System and Upper Ratchet Strap, Large Velcro Panel Over Laces

Sole: Carbon Fiber Composite

Outsole: Michelin Rubber

Weight: 425g (size 44)

Upper Material: Synthetic

Giro Empire VR90

  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 100% 100%
  • Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability” 60% 60%
  • Comfort and Fit 70% 70%
  • Durability 60% 60%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Pros

Ultra-Lightweight

Amazing Power Transfer

Cons

Too Narrow for Many

Questionable Durability

Best Applicaton: XC

Closure: Laces

Sole: Easton EC90 Carbon Fiber

Outsole: Vibram Mont Molded Rubber High Traction Lugged Outsole

Weight: 338g (size 43.5)

Upper Material: Microfiber

Shimano S-Phyre XC9

  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 100% 100%
  • Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability” 40% 40%
  • Comfort and Fit 90% 90%
  • Durability 90% 90%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Pros

Dual Boa Closure

Amazing Power Transfer

Cons

Expensive

Lack of Durability

Poor Off Bike Performance

Best Application: Cross Country Racing

Closure: Dual Boa IP1

Sole: Dynalast Carbon Fiber

Outsole: Dual-density Michelin Rubber

Weight: 390g (size 45)

Upper Material: Teijin Synthetic Leather

Giro Terraduro

  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 70% 70%
  • Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability” 100% 100%
  • Comfort and Fit 70% 70%
  • Durability 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Well Rounded

Great On and Off the Bike

Great Value

Cons

Fairly Heavy

Best Application: Enduro/All-Mountain

Closure: Replaceable N1 Ratcheting Buckle Closure at Ankle, Two D-ring Velcro Straps at Midfoot

Sole: Nylon

Outsole: Vibram High-Traction Lugged Outsole

Weight: 458g (size 43.5)

Upper Material: Microfiber

Giro Privateer R

  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 70% 70%
  • Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability” 80% 80%
  • Comfort and Fit 70% 70%
  • Durability 70% 70%
  • Weight 90% 90%

Pros

Durable for XC Shoes

Lightweight

Good Power Transfer

Great Value

Cons

Narrow Fit

Less Durable Than Terraduros

Best Application: XC, Trail

Closure: Replaceable N1 Ratcheting Buckle Closure at Ankle, Two D-ring Velcro Straps at Midfoot

Sole: Nylon

Outsole: Co-molded Nylon and High Traction Rubber

Weight: 386g (size 43.5)

Upper Material: Microfiber

Giro Chamber 2

  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 70% 70%
  • Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability” 80% 80%
  • Comfort and Fit 80% 80%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Weight 50% 50%

Pros

Well Protected

Durable

Wide Range of Cleat Adjustment

Cons

Heavy

Narrow for Riders with Wide Feet

Best Application: Enduro, Downhill, All-mountain

Closure: Laces Plus Power Strap

Sole: Tri-molded SPD Compatible

Outsole: Vibram Megagrip

Weight: 525g (size 44)

Upper Material: Water Resistant Microfiber

Shimano XC7

  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 90% 90%
  • Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability” 70% 70%
  • Comfort and Fit 80% 80%
  • Durability 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Pros

Top of the Line XC Performance at Half the Price

Cons

Still a Pricy Shoe for Marginal Gains Over the Giro Privateer R

Best Application: XC

Closure: Boa IP1

Sole: Carbon-Reinforced Nylon

Outsole: Dual-Density Michelin Rubber

Weight: 365g (size 45)

Upper Material: Perforated Upper

Five Ten Kestral Lace

  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 70% 70%
  • Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability” 90% 90%
  • Comfort and Fit 60% 60%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Patented Five Ten Grip and Durability

Cons

Heavy

Comfort Issues

Best Application: Enduro/All-Mountain  

Closure: Lace-Up with Hook and Loop Ankle Strap

Sole: Nylon

Outsole: C4 Stealth

Weight: 484g (size 43)

Upper Material: Polyurethane-coated synthetic

Pearl Izumi X-Project P.R.O.

  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 90% 90%
  • Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability” 90% 90%
  • Comfort and Fit 80% 80%
  • Durability 40% 40%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Pros

Great Pedaling Efficiency

Comfortable and Grippy off the Bike

Cons

Expensive

Least Durable Shoe in Review

Best Application: XC, All-Mountain

Closure: Two BOA IP1 dials

Sole: Carbon Composite

Outsole: Molded Carbon Rubber Tips on TPU Lugs

Weight: 419g (size 44)

Upper Material: Advanced 3-Layer Seamless Composite

Rigidity and Power Transfer

The Giro Privateer R offers good power transfer while pedaling thanks to its co-molded nylon outsole. The power transfer of the Privateer R is not on par with top cross country race shoe options and lags just behind that of our top all-mountain/enduro pick, the Shimano ME7.

However, it is plenty stiff enough for recreational racers and anyone not trying to squeeze every fraction of performance out of both their body and their bike.

Traction and “Hike-a-Bike-Ability”

Giro’s rubber outsole is soft and grippy, providing great hike-a-bike traction for an XC oriented shoe. Its widely spaced lugs mean that you do not have as much rubber on the ground as with the Giro Terraduro, but this also allows the Privateer R to do a great job of clearing mud, particularly around the cleat area, which is most important on a clipless mountain bike shoe.

Comfort and Fit

Like most Giro shoes, the Privateer R runs on the small side, though less so than some Giro shoes. Typically, sizing up a half size, opting for the Giro Privateer R HV, or some combination of the two will dial in the fit.

Once you have achieved a good fit, the Privateer R is a very comfortable shoe, very similar to the Terraduro. A medium arch support insole and supple microfiber upper work together to wrap around your foot like a glove.

Also like the Terraduro, the Giro Privateer R uses a combination of two D-ring mounted velcro straps on the toe and midfoot and a ratchet strap below the ankle allows for a highly adjustable fit.

Durability

The soft, grippy sole of the Giro Privateer R does not live up to the Vibram sole of the Terraduro in the durability department. Frequent hike-a-bikes over rough terrain will drastically shorten the lifespan of the sole, which is a shame because it performs so well in those situations.

As for the upper, it is quite durable, if not as protected as the Terraduro. The Privateer R is still armored with a rubberized coating at the toe and heel, although this protection does not wrap around the entire shoe. Still, the upper should outlive the sole, and you should get a fairly long life out of the Giro Privateer R as long as you minimize your time in them off of the bike.

Weight

At 386g, the Giro Privateer R is an impressively light shoe, particularly for one at its price point. Its weight puts it just behind the Giro Empire VR90 and Shimano S-Phyre XC9, which cost three and four times as much, respectively. It is a rare item in the cycling world that provides both cost and weight savings, but the Giro Privateer R is just such a product.

The Bottom Line

Boasting a lightweight and good power transfer at only $109, the Giro Privateer R is an extremely solid all-around cross country shoe. Furthermore, it is sturdy enough to pull its own weight on light trail and all mountain rides, making it an extremely attractive option for all mountain riders who skew toward the tamer side of the mountain. If your days tend to get a bit gnarlier, we would recommend the Giro Terraduro or Shimano ME7. However, for cross country racers who don’t want to break the bank, the Giro Privateer R provides unbeatable bang for your buck.

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