Suplest probably isn’t a brand that's on your radar, in fact, the Swiss shoe brand claims that they are probably the smallest premium cycle shoe manufacturer in the world. While they mainly focus on road shoes, they also sell a number of off-road specific footwear too from flat pedal mountain bike shoes to gravel.
The Mountain Performance is the cross-country and gravel shoe offering featuring a stiff sole and a single Boa closure and is sandwiched between the Mountain Pro and a more affordable Mountain Sport model.
Design and specification
The shoes are made from a microfiber outer material and lined with a softer mesh material. Around the front of the foot, there's a thin layer of carbon on the upper where the Li2 spec Boa is mounted, as well as one of the textile Boa lace guides. Suplest says this helps spread out pressure distribution for a more comfortable fit and reduced pressure points.
The Li2 Boa gives micro tightening and loosening adjustment as well as the pop release to instantly loosen the shoe, Suplest uses what they call Anatomical Wrap to secure the shoe around the foot. This wrap-around outer and single dial closure is similar to Shimano’s RX8 although the Suplest’s Boa lacing crosses over a second time to also tighten the forefoot, rather than using an additional Velcro strap.
Inside there is an insole from insole specialists Solestar which is said to optimize power transmission and improve efficiency. The insole is stiff and supportive and features arch support, a metatarsal button, and venting around the toes. The carbon sole itself is also decently stiff, being rated at eight out of ten on Suplest’s stiffness scale (compared to the Pro model which gets full marks, and the Sport model which is rated at five). The entire sole is coated in SUPtraction rubber and features low-profile tread lugs with a pimpled pattern for extra grip.
The front and rear of the shoe are reinforced for extra protection and there is a 3D-heel counter to help keep the foot stable and avoid any lift when riding.
The shoes are only available in an all black or the blue design I have on test and come in a range of sizes between EU39 and EU47.
I found the Suplest Mountain Performance shoe to be very comfortable when riding off-road. My feet felt very snug and secure without any of the unforgiving tightness that usually comes with performance shoes. When setting off on a ride I found I needed to make a few minor adjustments as my feet settled in but once in place and tightened up I didn't need to do any further fiddling down the trail.
The upper applies pressure very evenly across the foot so there weren't any hot spots or pressure points when I had them tightened up. This gentler fit approach means they are a superb option for longer distance gravel racing where you need the close fit and clout for fast acceleration but also enough comfort to ride hard all day.
The combination of an insole and carbon sole further enhances comfort. The shaping of the insoles is very supportive and the stiff but not jarring sole filters out enough trail chatter without sacrificing pedal stamping power.
The long cleat slots on Suplest’s Mountain shoes give a wider breadth of cleat placement options. Coming from a mountain biking background, I prefer a rearward cleat position and the cleats can be positioned much further back on the Surplest Mountain Performance than any other gravel shoes I have tried.
The shallow tread gives a stable connection with Shimano SPD pedal platform I used to test these shoes and is nice to walk around. It's not the grippiest on rocks and can be pretty slippy they are wet, although walking on wet geology is never a cycling shoe's strong point.
The Suplest Mountain Performance is a very comfortable and extremely well-thought-out gravel and cross-country shoe. The fit is snug but gentle and the combination of insole support and a stiff carbon sole help deliver power effectively and efficiently. I'm a big fan of the longer cleat slots too which allow a more rearward position if required.
Tech specs: Suplest Mountain Performance gravel shoe
- Price: $TBC / £TBC / €289
- Color: Black, black / petrol
- Retention: Boa Li2
- Weight: 756g (EU43)
- Sizes: EU 39-47