The Ventana’s target is comfort and confidence on all-day trail adventures and enduro riding. It’s the spiritual successor to the popular workhorse, the Terraduro, but with a more relaxed fit. We have previously tested the Ventana Fastlace version, but how does the Boa closure stack up?
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The Ventana is a shoe with all-day intentions: the tongue and the heel collar are well padded with a dense foam, the nylon shank in the sole deliberately has a little flex in it, and there’s also a slender layer of EVA cushioning under the foot - like in a light hiking boot - so you’re separated from the ground by more than just the rubber outsole when you hop off the bike.
On top of that, it’s a shoe that’s designed to be knocked about. The heart of the upper is a breathable ripstop fabric called Synchwire. On top of that some abrasion-resistant overlays on the inner and outer sides, and burly rubber reinforcement around the toe bumper and heel cup. Synchwire is bonded rather than stitched to the other parts of the shoe, which makes the finish smoother and potentially less likely to split in areas of stress.
It’s a broad shoe with a roomy toe box and a relaxed shape through the arch area and the heel - more like a casual shoe than a performance shoe. And this is the Boa version of the shoe, so it tightens with the tried and trusted one-way dial, rather than with the pullcord of the cheaper Fastlace version. As ever, the Boa was fine - quick to snug up; quick - if a tad stiff sometimes - to release; and no hotspots from the laces.
Finally, you’ll notice that the cleat mounting point is set more towards the medial (inner) edge of the Ventana than on most shoes. That gives a wider downhill-style stance like on the Giro Chamber, but it won’t suit everyone – more on that below.
As someone who normally wears XC shoes, I thought the Ventana would be a bit of a chore to test - heavier, flexier, bulkier, less sculpted in the fit than my normal favorites. It’s all of those things, true, but over the last couple of months, I’ve preferred wearing it for most of my off-road rides.
Why this epiphany? I’ve never thought of my XC shoes as uncomfortable in the slightest, but the Ventanas were just more relaxed on the foot, more forgiving on the pedal, and easier to walk in. And they play nicely on flat pedals, too, at least for the kind of midrange riding I’ve been doing lately, which made them an easy all-round pick.
I wouldn’t race in them, but not once in my everyday testing did I wish they were stiffer or lighter. I also didn’t have any trouble with the offset positioning of the cleat fixing, which makes the foot sit slightly more to the outside of the pedal than usual - in fact, I liked being a few millimeters clearer of the cranks. (If you’re susceptible to knee pain you might want to take advice before altering your stance like this though.)
Downsides? The Ventanas feel pretty direct for the kind of shoe they are, but they don’t feel fast-fast. You feel like you’re wearing a shoe, on a pedal, rather than getting the sensation that your foot is a full-on part of the bike. You go back to the stiffer XC shoe and you have an ‘aha’ moment as you notice your pedal-mashing turning into acceleration a fraction faster.
Also, while the rubber sole is great on firm surfaces, wet or dry, its grip is definitely not great in mud. Less bad than I thought it would be, but on steep banks, you are going up with your feet sideways and pining for toe studs.
And the commuter grey/school shoe colorway isn’t what I’d normally choose, but, hey - I’m a middle-aged dad so don’t ask me about taste.
So are they the ‘sweetspot’ shoe Giro designed them as. Yeah, I think they are.
My only real quibble was that ironically for a shoe designed for comfortable hike-a-biking, my heel tended to slip upwards in the shoe when walking. At first, I thought the Boa was coming loose, but I don’t think it was that; it’s just a more relaxed fit around the tongue and collar of the shoe.
If the heel fits snugly for you and you’re happy with the wider stance, the Ventana could be the robust hike-a-bike adventure shoe you’ve been looking for. They’re a satisfyingly direct knockabout shoe for all-round, all-day riding, and most people would find them comfortable enough for multi-day trips too.
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Tech Specs: Giro Ventana Boa shoe
- Weight: 434g (size 43)
- Price: $180.00 / £159.99
- Sizes: 39-48 (men), 36-43 (women)
- Fastening: BOA L6
- Sole: Injected EVA cushioning midsole, with Giro’s Sensor rubber outsole
- Colors: Black/Olive, Black/Dark Shadow