Etnies Marana Mid Crank MTB Shoe Review
Words by Robert Johnston
Photos by Adam Lievesley
Etnies have been synonymous with Skateboarding and bmx riding for many years, and used to offer my go-to set of bmx shoes – the Number mid. These were discontinued a few years ago, resulting in me going elsewhere in search of that perfect level of support, pedal feel and grip. The Marana Mid Crank was released by Etnies last year, taking the classic Marana mid profile and adding a myriad of bike-specific features without spoiling the looks. With such fond memories of Etnies shoes I had to get myself a set to put to the test.
Etnies drafted in the expertise of Michelin to handle things in the rubber department, and as such the shoe proudly sports a Michelin logo on each of the heels. Between your feet and this rubber is the stiffest shank that Etnies make, providing a great deal of support; an STI Evolution foam midsole; and finally a Pro1 insole as the final layer underneath your feet. Protection is provided in the form of an injected rubber toe cap and an asymmetrical mid-top upper, keeping your toes and ankles safe through the rigors of aggressive bike riding. A Scotchgard™ treatment is applied to the upper to resist the elements and keep your feet dry, combining with the quick-drying 3M™ Thinsulate™ material used for the main bulk of the shoe, to create a purpose built item that should keep mountain bikers happy in all but the wettest of conditions. A tongue pouch for lace secretion rounds out the feature packed Marana mid crank shoe; retailing for $119.99 and available in the usual range of sizes, including half sizes between the most common.
Testing the Marana mid cranks began on the mountain bike at the beginning of the UK winter. Of course, this made for some sloppy conditions that provided the ultimate test of shoe-pedal grip. As a long time Five Ten user, I suppose I take shoe grip somewhat for granted, and as such any flat pedal shoe has a lot to live up to. The Maranas’ Michelin sole certainly doesn’t have the out-and-out, stick to the ceiling tackiness that a worn in Five Ten provides; but after a few rides to break them in, the Etnies sole provides reasonable grip on an aggressive set of flats. I’d suggest they have 70% of the grip that a Five Ten provides on the same pedal. This is not necessarily a negative for all riders, as there are many out there that will appreciate the easier repositioning of the foot using the Etnies, and a user who regularly likes to take their feet off – be it for trick purposes or a Sam Hill style foot-out corner – will likely get along with the Marana. It’s clear that Etnies listened to Brandon Semenuk when co-developing this shoe, as it truly is a freeriders dream.
With this in mind, and conditions worsening in the UK, I delegated the Maranas to bmx use exclusively, and this is where they really began to shine for me. They have a stiff but relatively thin sole, offering a great balance of pedal feel and foot support in use – they’re certainly not a soft, floppy skate shoe. There’s enough cushion in the STI Evolution midsole to take the sting out of the harsher landings, both on or off the pedal, without it ever feeling vague underfoot. The mid-top is perfect for fending off the dreaded crank bite that plagues me as a clumsy bmx-er, and the toe-cap stood up to a high-speed pedal clip in the skatepark that I’ve no doubt would have made for some serious pain to my digits in a lesser constructed shoe. The overall weight of the shoes, at 490g each for my size US11.5’s, feels relatively light on the foot compared to some heavy-hitting mountain bike shoes, which gives a more agile feeling when on the pedals. After the couple of wet rides they had to endure on the mountain, the Maranas dried off quickly and avoided the dreaded “swamp” smell that other shoes can sometimes suffer from when they don’t let go of the moisture, so the Thinsulate material seems to work as advertised.
My feet are quite middle-of-the-road in terms of fit, and as such the size I wear in most brands was spot on with the Marana mid cranks. They don’t seem overly wide, so it may be worth sizing up a half-size if you’re of the wider-footed variety.
Durability of the Etnies has been slightly better than the usual lifespan of a set of Vans in the skatepark, with the upper seeing a few stitching tears here and there, but overall proving to be a well constructed set of sneaks. The sole is still in remarkable condition, with the Michelin rubber showing next to no wear after 5 months of bmx abuse, which helps to justify the price tag, especially if you’re a fan of the looks – I certainly am.
I have one gripe with the Maranas – one that is easily sorted, but slightly annoying nonetheless. The laces that come fitted on the size 11.5 (US) tested were not quite long enough to be threaded through all of the loops on the shoes. Skipping a single set of loops allowed for just enough lace when cinched tight, but you then lose a little of the stability that could be achieved. A new set of laces solves the issue for little cost, but it’s just a small detail that I’d like to see improved.
The Etnies Marana Mid Crank provides another great option for flat pedal footwear, especially for those who do not seek ultimate grip, such as bmx riders and freeriders. The shoes are well constructed, offer great pedal feel and reasonable grip, and hide a lot of functionality under a classic skate-style look.
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