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Crankbrothers Mallet E Speed Lace shoe review

Well known in the pedal market, Crankbrothers has now stepped over to the MTB shoe market. We have been testing the Mallet E Speedlace to see how it competes with the established players

Crankbrothers Mallet E Speedlace shoe
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

The snug fit needs checking, but the balanced torque vs walk-sole performance makes for good all-round use. Included cleats mean they are OK value if you run Crankbrothers pedals, too

For

  • Easy clip in/out
  • Snug, secure upper
  • Medium pedal stiffness
  • Pliable and grippy for walking
  • Sturdy protection
  • ‘Free’ Crankbrothers cleats

Against

  • Long, narrow fit
  • Too soft and twisty for some
  • Potentially surplus cleats
  • Slippery on platform pedals

Crankbrothers has launched three different shoes in three different versions to match its pedal range. Mallet is its DH shoe, the Stamp its flat-pedal shoe, and the Mallet-E is the clipless enduro/trail option. 

Design and performance

From the bottom up the Es use a harder ‘mid friction’ MC1 sole compound. It’s deliberately not as sticky as Five Ten Stealth Rubber, Specialized Slipnot, or Ride Concepts to allow easier twist release movement on a platform-style pedal, but it will skate around if you’re unclipped. A more pronounced ramped tread than most means it’s good for technical push-ups and hike-a-bike. Twist mobility at the rear and a flexible toe helps comfort when walking, while silicone grippers in the heel help stop lift as well. 

The cleat sits in a relatively deep pocket with long ramps at either end to guide your foot into the target. The slots aren’t extended back into the mid-foot like the Mallet shoe but there’s still enough adjustment on the ladder marked slots to cover all conventional cleat position users. While they’re designed to work with all pedals, you also get a set of Crankbrothers cleats (worth $26.99) pre-fitted. That’s presumably to encourage you to get matching pedals too, but it’s a pain if you’re on Shimano or Time. The cleat bolts aren’t fully tightened or greased either, so make sure you remove them, get some anti-seize paste on and then tighten properly even if they’re in the right place for you. 

Crankbrothers Mallet E Speedlace shoe

The cleat has a deep recess to help guide the cleat into the pedal mechanism (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Sole stiffness is a good middle ground between the firmest pedaling shoes (Five Ten and Ride Concepts) and floppier designs like Fizik and Shimano so you’re getting a decent feel and connection, including torsional twist for when you’re pulling aggressive angles. You won’t feel noticeably undermined when you need to get the power down on kick climbs or between corners though. The sole extends up around toe, forefoot and heel for extra rub/bump protection with a hard TPU toe box, side strips and heel cups for extra protection. The upper itself is fairly thick and stiff with a tough rubberized finish that shrugs off splashes well but vents through a few toe perforations and mesh side panels. 

Half sizes in between most of the sizes mean loads of fit options but the last is relatively long and narrow, so our EU 45s felt snug on wider feet even for testers who normally wear a 44. Stout tongue elastic also increases the pressure even before you pull the Speed Lace toggle snug and tighten the wrap-over Velcro strap to really lock things down. The hidden eyelets also hold tension much better than most competing systems so it’s actually easy to over-tighten if you’re not careful. There’s a stretch pocket on top of the tongue to hide the mechanism, but you’ll need to hook it up from under the strap where it naturally sits to avoid an obvious pressure point. 

If you prefer a dial closure there’s a Boa and strap version for $199.99 as well as a lace-up option for $149.99.

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Crankbrothers Mallet E Speedlace shoe

The Speed Lace system is easy, if not too easy, to tighten (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Crankbrothers Mallet E Speedlace shoe

The shape is best suited to those with narrower feet (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

Slightly narrow and snug sizing needs checking but otherwise a secure feeling, reinforced mid-weight shoe for riders who want easy in/out clipping and a comfortable walk rather than super sticky or super stiff performance. Value depends on your cleat preference though.

Tech Specs: Crankbrothers Mallet E Speed Lace shoe

  • Colors: Green/gum (tested) Black/silver
  • Sizing: EUR 37 - 48
  • Weight: 1032g (pair of 45s with cleats)
  • Price:  $169.99 / £149.99 
Guy Kesteven
Guy has been riding mountain bikes since before they were mountain bikes and is right handy on an offroad tandem (of course he is).