Louis Garneau Tri-Lite Shoes

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Manufacturer Description

In an effort to drastically reduce the weight, the new Tri-Lite is feather lightweight with the power transfer needed by competitive triathletes. The shoe weighs in at an amazing 226 grams.  This shoe also has a Euro Fit.

Features

  • ELITE FIT
  • X-LITE composite carbon outsole with patented multivent system
  • Lightened heel with one-way stretch Lycra
  • HRS-90 system reinforced with a 0.4-mm membrane
  • Reversed Velcro upper strap tab
  • Synthetic leather and nylon-laminated cycling mesh upper
  • COOLMAX Ergo Air interchangeable insoles
  • Reversed straps
  • Visual display of cleat position compatible with DURA-ACE, TIME, LOOK and SPEED PLAY cleats
  • Heel reflector
  • Featherweight
  • Measured Size 43 without cleats
    • Forefoot Width – 95.9 mm (3.8 in)
    • Weight – 235 g (8.3 oz)
  • Retail – $180

YMMV Review

Louis Garneau has been making cycling clothing since 1983. What started in his father’s garage know has become a large player in the cycling, running, triathlon, and even winter sports. Louis Garneau started and is still headquartered in Canada but can be found the world over.  In the winter, I did a review of the Compression Top and Tights; I like their choice of fabric on these and looked forward to testing out another one of their products.  This spring I set up a review for their Tri-Lite Cycling Shoes.

Top View

Testing

I tested the Tri-Lite Cycling Shoes on my training this spring and early summer.  I also had two races that I used them for.  These races were entirely different from each other; one was drizzly and 50 degrees and the other sunny and 90 degrees.  My training rides fell n between these two extremes.  At this point, I would estimate that I have 500+ miles on the shoes.

Design ★★★½☆

Appearance (20%) ★★★★☆

Construction (30%) ★★★½☆

Straps (15%) ★★★☆☆

Sustainability (10%) ☆☆☆☆☆

Weight (25%) ★★★★½

The Tri-Lite is feather-light triathlon cycling shoes.  What makes a triathlon shoe compared to “regular” cycling shoes you may ask? Two main differences are often seen but there may be more.  Triathlon cycling shoes normally have a very simple Velcro retention system for fast transitions and a plush interior to allow the rider to wear sockless.  The Tri-Lite has been designed to perform at a competition level by serious triathletes and enthusiasts.  I personally have never had triathlon shoes, so I was excited to give these a try. Out of the box, I liked the look of the Tri-Lite’s.  I know appearance should not be a major factor, but it definitely helps.  I like that they are not very flashy and will not look funny no matter what kit I wear.

Carbon Sole with Shimano Cleats

The foundation of all cycling shoes is the sole.  A stiff sole helps the rider transition power to the pedals while saving energy due to the stiffness of the sole.  Most shoes either use nylon or carbon for their sole with the latter being stiffer and more expensive.  The Tri-Lite uses the Louis Garneau X-Lite composite carbon sole. The sole has a multivent system built into it to increase breathability.  The sole is compatible with Shimano, Time, Look, and Speedplay Cleats.  I personally run Shimano on my tri bike.  The upper is made from a combination of synthetic leather and nylon-laminated mesh.  There is a lot of mesh to make the shoes as breathable as possible.  The shoes have reversed straps for faster transition while maintaining an optimal fit. The smaller strap is located over the forefoot and  can be set and left unchanged.  The upper strap is much wider and is the primary one.  In the back heel, there is a reflective loop that doubles as a reflective accent and a loop to grab onto.

The other structure element of the shoes that greatly affect the performance is the heel cup.  Louis Garneau uses their HRS-90 system to keep your heel in place.  By keeping the heel in place during the power stroke you can generate more power and therefore ride faster.  The system uses a 0.4-mm membrane which provides good support and comfort without sacrificing performance.  As I said in the beginning, the inside is another big difference compared to standard cycling shoes.  The inside of these is lined for increased comfort.  The use Coolmax Ergo Air interchangeable insoles for more comfort in hot weather.  Since they are removable they can be swapped for whatever your preference is.  The inside of the heel uses a really cool fabric.  It is a one-way stretch Lycra.  This Lycra locks your heel in place as it is easy to slide your foot in but grabs when you try to lift it up.  In combination with the straps and HRS-90 system, it helps with increased power transfer.

Looking at the Louis Garneau website and at the materials used in these shoes, I did not see any information about sustainable materials or initiatives.  For this reason, I gave them a zero for sustainability.

Inside View

Fit ★★★☆☆

Adjustability (10%) ★★★☆☆

Comfort Next to Skin (15%) ★★★★☆

Foot Length (10%) ★★★½☆

Foot Volume (10%) ★★☆☆☆

Heel Width (10%) ★★★½☆

Midfoot Width (10%) ★★★☆☆

Toe Box Width (10%) ★★★½☆

The Tri-Lite Shoes were different than my regular cycling shoes, mainly due to going sockless.  I normally like to wear socks, especially when cycling so this was a change for me.  In my previous races, I had always taken the time to put on socks, but then I never had a pair of shoes made to be worn without them.  In my training, I only wore these with socks once, my first ride.  After I knew the fit was good I was willing to give them a shot without socks and never felt the need to go back.  The interior of the shoes was comfortable and did not give me any blisters even up to 56 miles of riding.  I even liked them with the included insole which is not always the case.  Most of my cycling shoes use the Superfeet Blue insoles, but I did not feel the need to change these out.

Vent in the Carbon sole

The fit of the Tri-Lite’s is pretty good.  They classify it as an Elite Fit which I am not sure what that means.  I found that the length was good.  I tested a size 43 which corresponds to a US size 9.5.  While this is slightly larger than I normally wear in running shoes, I like to have a bit more room in my cycling shoes.  This might have led to the shoes having more volume then I like.  It was not by much, but I had to strap down my shoes are far as they could go.  Even then they were not super tight but enough not to hinder my performance.  When strapped at the limit it caused the end of the strap to occasionally rub against my crank arm, which was annoying.  I do not think I would have been comfortable in a 42.5 so 43 was the right choice.  Through the whole shoe, I felt like the fit was a good width.  For some reason, I have a tendency to over tighten the midfoot of my shoes to cause pain and have to adjust during a ride.  With these I did not have that problem.  Some might have been because  I already had them maxed out.  I also feel like they had a good width to them as well.  It is important to have these shoes be comfortable because depending upon the race you may have a long run to complete.

Heel with One-Way Lycra

Performance ★★★★☆

Breathability (30%) ★★★★½

Durability (20%) ★★★½☆

Easy Transition (25%) ★★★★☆

Sole Stiffness (25%) ★★★½☆

The most important factor with these is of course performance.  The Tri-Lite’s come in at an impressive light 235 g (8.3 oz).  Lighter shoes mean less resistance to pedaling and therefore, faster cycling.  The upper is made of both synthetic leather and mesh. This mesh truly breathes well.  In the Pacific Crest Triathlon, it was about 50 degrees when I got out of the water, and I must say I did not appreciate the breathability on this day.  After 28 miles of riding in slowly improving conditions.  My feet were the only part of me that did not warm up; it actually took 2 miles of running to do so.  Now in my other race I did enjoy the breathability as it was much different conditions with race start temperatures in the low 70s increasing to near 90 by the time I was off the bike.  Even with water being poured over my head and inevitably running down to my shoes, I did not notice them being uncomfortable, they stayed cool for the whole ride.  I could not say the same for the run, which was just plain hot!

I have am normally not one to beat up my equipment so it takes something pretty major to get a low durability rating from me.  I have put about 500 miles in these shoes and not had any issues as of yet.  If anything changes I will update this review.  The carbon sole is plenty stiff for me.  I do not generate any exceptional power numbers as I am a middle of the pack rider.  For me these felt stiff and comfortable.  This is normally the trade-off with cycling shoes.  In some of my older nylon soled shoes I can tell they are getting a little soft; I could not detect any softness with these.  So ultimately the main reason to get a pair of triathlon shoes is for comfort and speed.  While the Tri-Lite might not make you a faster rider, they will help with your transition times.  They are really easy to get on quickly and go.  Since you do not need to wear socks with these that even make them faster.

Louis Garneau Tri-Lite Shoes in Action

Overall ★★★½☆

Overall, my first experience with a pair of Triathlon Shoes has been a good one.  The Tri-Lite’s are comfortable and performance oriented.  Over the 500 miles I have in these, I have not had any blisters or rubbing.  The heel lock is truly impressive and helps keep my foot in place even with straps that I would prefer to be slightly tighter.  I did go with a 43 instead of a 42.5, but I am happy I did even though there may be slightly more volume than I prefer.  The length and width are just about perfect, and I can deal with the occasional flap of the strap against the crank arm.  The shoes are very breathable and well made.  If you are looking for a Tri shoe, I would suggest giving these look.  I do not think you will be disappointed.  The Tri-Lite’s retail for $180 which is a solid price for a carbon soled shoe.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Very breathable
  • Comfortable inside of the shoes
  • Stiff sole
  • Good heel lock for power transfer

Cons

  • Might have a bit too much volume
  • Caused the strap to be slightly long

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Adventures

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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