This is important – New shoes.
The choice for this season is DMT’s Borealis. This option first came to our attention when it was launched at the end of 2013. With a carbon/polyurethane-interchangable sole, front-studs for off-road escapades, and a shiny black finish, how could we resist but give them a try?
Legend has it that Michael Jordan would wear a pair of new shoes for each game. Supposedly, because like a new suit it made him feel good. I guess there’s a lot of that in road shoes too. Experts would argue that they are also important, as one of the main contact points on a bike, it essential to get it right.
Previously we had a pair of the original mark1 S-Works MTB’s. Which had survived a smashing for some 3.5 years. It would have probably endured even longer, but with: the toe-protector coming off; the carbon sole separating from the upper; and ultimately the replaceable sole becoming redundant after the screw-fittings chose to disintegrate, it was time to look for a suitable replacement.
The exterior of the Borealis is nicely packaged. The skin is made from a patent-kind of micro fibre that is comfy through it’s suppleness and exceptional venting, thanks to well placed webbing up front. This is further supplemented by the slits on the tongue that lie between the velcro fasteners.
These velcro straps are both proven and a speedy way to get in and out. Unlike the S-Works, that came with BOA dials, you don’t have to worry much about the system seizing up. However, you don’t get the same accurate fitting the BOA offers. All the same, it’s not much effort to adjust velcro, and when using the shoes for city cycling, it doesn’t look out of place either.
We put the Borealis on a hundred-mile test run in the harshest day of the winter, and they held out well. Comfortable on the inside, yet stiff and solid on the out, they only needed a good pair of wool socks and overshoes to complete the set up.
Out with the old, in with the new:
Quite accidentally the flash on the camera comes on and POW! What a surprise; my ‘ol shoes never had this effect. Surprisingly, DMT and their resellers fail to mention just how good the reflective material is. Strategically placed, the reactive finish is striking, but doesn’t wrap around to the heels for absolute visibility. Still that’s when good lights come in.
Click on the thumb nails for more POW!
According to the manufacturers the sole is a combo of carbon and polyurethane. What’s more, it’s supposedly perforated; presumably this makes it more breathable. For what purpose? We don’t know. The interchangable treads of the Borealis make the shoe even more versatile. They even come with fearsome looking studs to give you the edge when scaling muddy terrain come the CX season. Yet are easily replaced with flat-head screws for the less tackling tarmac of the urban commute.
The choice of rubber is a good thing too. It’s the soft type; which on the one hand, means it will break down faster than your non-interchangable options, but on the other hand, are easier on the joints when striking down. Additionally, the heel cup is solid. we’ve knocked these on narrow steps and besides a little scuff, appear to be hard as nails.
The only fault we could find in this department, and this is actually a school-boy error, is that the fitting-screws have easily come loose. This is easily rectified by popping into your friendly local bike shop, and asking for replacements. Once greased up, you’re ready to go.
The inside of the Borealis is designed equally well. It comes with a thermo-moldable insole, which has a novel arch support that adorns its centre. After 5 months of wear it continues to be supportive and scent free! Most shoes require a personal preference when it comes to insoles. However, we found this very comfortable, and would opt for this insole for our other shoes.
Unlike my previous SIDI’s, that often wear away, exposing the harsh skeleton of the heel cup. The lining is excellent. No annoying stitches or edges to spoil the ride, the foot is protected by soft leather like micro fibre.
We tested a size 44. Compared with the American designed S-Works, of the same size, they come in slightly narrower at the toe-box area. From the heel to the ball, the width is consistent throughout. When transferring power through to the pedal there is absolute comfort. Either through a pull-up, or a pedal stroke down, the transfer is efficient and at no point was there any slack. Of course, these are all personal observations, but with another DMT shoe soon to be picked up by a fellow Baroudeur, who wears a size 47, it will be interesting to compare results.
Not many resellers carry DMT. Which is a shame, they sponsor Philippe Gilbert, and not only do they design shoes as striking as SIDI, they work too.
Originally purchased for £135, the Borealis price has dropped to £116 at Wiggle. We would have purchased them at Always Riding, a fine London based online store, but they don’t seem to carry them any longer.
The Borealis doesn’t come with a BOA system. If you’re looking for the perfect fit, then there’s the option of the Lynx which does ship with BOA. However, the Borealis is excellent if you’re seeking a snug fit, and with the Lynx at £40 more; it’s really comes down to personal preference. Personally, having BOA fail on us twice, both on road and MTB shoes, we’re leaning more towards velcro. Besides, in our humble opinion, they’re simple, functional and look good too. Perhaps velcro is the new retro!
We don’t currently have scales to weigh the Borealis, but we hope to remedy this. For the meantime, they are comparable to the S-Works MTB shoes; marginally weightier, because of the velcro, rather than the BOA’s.
Overall, we are are delighted with how the Borealis functions. However, there is one major fault, and that is, it lacks the vital accessories. DMT are backed by Nike, and yet Wiggle are the only carrier of the interchangeable sole. Currently they only hold a size 39. Which of course is useless to most people.
Named after the northern winds, the Borealis is tough and a good looking MTB shoe. If you like the Borealis, check out the GUL wetsuit glove review. It might just be the perfect match.