The Giro Ventana shoes take the inboard offset cleat position of Giro's Chamber DH shoe and tops it with a brand new welded upper secured with a simple but effective cord and wrap strap double act. Throw in some stub protection and well balanced sole stiffness for hard riding and it’s potentially a brilliant shoe for wider stance fans. That cleat position can affect support and release predictability though.
We’re clearly making a big deal about the inboard cleat position on the Ventana but that’s because it’s the make-or-break feature on this shoe. While other makers are also trending towards a further back and further in cleat slot position that mimics flat pedal stance more, checking the test shoe rack shows the Ventana and Chamber shoes are still noticeably more inboard of the centreline than most. The sole uses a low profile ‘Sensor’ rubber tread with extended stub protection on the toe and there’s and big cleat pocket to make access easy. Stiffness is definitely geared towards purposeful pedalling too.
The upper is a multi-section mix of close weave ripstop mesh, structural ‘Synchwire’ sections and an extra reinforcing strip for the main wrap-over Velcro strap. There’s additional rubber protection around the toe, a sturdy heel cup and both broad tongue and heel top are well padded but there’s no raised inside cuff like the outgoing Terraduro boot. The cord-locked Fastlace system tucks into an elastic keeper strap and there’s a Ventana with Boa top closure and lower strap for £159.99 if you want maximum lockdown and slightly lower weight.
The Fastlace name certainly suits though as the well-judged fit, structured - but not over stiff - upper, and simple wrap strap and pull-tight lace closure makes these a joy to put on. Obviously enduro/trail riding isn’t a triathlon so nobody has a stopwatch on your changing times but they definitely get your ride started in a refreshingly faff-free way. The fit was well-liked by a range of testers too, with no pinch points or hot spots even on long, hard summer rides but enough support for putting the power down too. While they’re not weatherproof, they dry quickly, breathe easily and don’t weigh a tonne like some enduro shoes.
The sole feel is well-judged too; stiff enough to strain an ambitious gear round without feeling like you’re losing most of your watts, but with enough give to keep your soles sentient to trail feedback on long, hard-baked descents. They walk OK too, although the ‘Sensor’ rubber is definitely harder than ideal for wet grip and the low lugs don’t give much bite either.
While the lower profile should make them work well on a platform style clipless shoe, the rubber compound meant they skated and slid more than we’d like whether clipped in or not. Together with the inboard cleat position meaning less outboard foot support, that meant we had to raise the grip pegs to reduce accidental unclip or foot slip issues. The inboard cleat position definitely aligns the shoe more with DH rather than trail riders too.
The wider, more centralised foot stance was loved by some - particularly persistent heel/crank scuffers - but testers with a more trail/XC background consistently failed to find the cleat underfoot. We were very glad of the extra stub protection as we kicked and scuffed significantly more trailside rocks and stumps than normal, to the point where it became a slight psych issue. The wider Q factor and easy outward roll or release of the shoe when trying to force power or traction through them at weird angles caused trouble for some riders too.
There’s a lot to really like about the Ventana. Fit is excellent, the fastening system is fast and secure, the upper is tough and well protected and the sole is a really good balance of pedalling stiffness and trail feedback. The comparatively slippery sole compound and very inboard cleat position will be a deal-breaker or a deal-maker for some riders though. There are another 23 shoe designs in the Giro MTB range though, of which 21 have a more conventional cleat position so don’t think you’re out of options if the Ventana is a bit ‘far out’ for you.
Tech spec: Giro Ventana Fastlace
- Sizes: 39-48 (mens) 36-43 (womens)
- Weight: 946g (pair size 44 with cleats)
- Price: £129.99