Crankbrothers Mallet Trail BOA Clip Shoe Review


Words by Robert Johnston  |  Photos by Finlay Anderson

Today Crankbrothers is launching their new Trail shoe range. They’ve come to market with Clipless and Flat pedal offerings in the Mallet and Stamp shoes respectively, with BOA and Lace versions in each to tailor to rider preference and budget. We received a set of Crankbrothers Mallet Trail BOA shoes to put to the test a few weeks before their official release, and it’s a shoe that proved to perform great, after a couple of rides bedding in. Read on to learn all about them and find out how they stack up.


• BOA Li2 Fastener + Strap (Mallet BOA)
• MATCH Outsole
• Fiber-Reinforced Nylon Shank
• Mid Friction MC1 Rubber


  • Effective Fastener Pairing

  • Well Balanced Stiffness

  • Adequate Protection

  • Light and Slim


  • Low Profile Outer Edge

  • Elastic Collar Isn’t Tight


The Crankbrothers Mallet Trail BOA shoes are designed to fill in the gap between their pure gravity offerings and a XC-style shoe. They’re given a mixture of characteristics that should make them suited for Trail through to Enduro bikes, and even Downhill for riders looking for a lighter offering. Crankbrothers offers them in sizes US 5-15 (EU 37-49) for $219.99/€219/99, and the US 9 is claimed to weigh 410g per shoe.

Crankbrothers Mallet Trail BOA Clip Shoe Review

The Ripstop upper features a fairly high ankle area that’s bolstered by an elastic collar to prevent dirt ingress. They’re fastened by a combination of a BOA Li2 system and Hook-and-Loop strap to tailor the fit.

Protection is added in the form of a TPU toe box, which has a fairly low volume for a more efficient feeling shoe when pedaling hard. The heel is given a layer of padding to aid in comfort and stability. A padded tongue is given full gusseting to keep dirt out of the shoe, and is perforated to improve breathability.

Crankbrothers Mallet Trail BOA Clip Shoe Review

Under the foot, Crankbrothers has updated their Match outsole to cater to the trail crowd and improve the performance and durability. For the Mallet Trail BOA they opted to use their mid-friction MC1 rubber compound for improved pedal entry and exit. This is given a highly shaped tread with purposeful lugs for walking traction. The toe is slightly ramped to improve walking feel without compromising stiffness.

Controlling the stiffness underfoot is a Fiber-reinforced Nylon shank, which is wider and longer than their previous offerings to improve support and power transfer. The cleat track extends fairly rearward for a more gravity-style foot position if desired. Crankbrothers equips this with markings to indicate both lateral and fore-aft positioning to make setup easy.

Crankbrothers Mallet Trail BOA Clip Shoe Review


SETUP AND FIT | The Crankbrothers Mallet Trail shoes are almost like an Enduro shoe that’s crashed into a Cross Country shoe. There’s a low-profile XC-style fit for the front ½ of the shoe, and slightly more voluminous enduro-style rear end to it. The toe box is suitably protective for more aggressive riding, but riders who find themselves often smashing their feet on the trail may wish for a slightly more protective shoe overall.

The large strap and BOA system combine to make a shoe that can be snugged down well around the foot. I suffered from pain due to pressure on the outside of the foot initially – It’s quite low volume here, so I was filling out this portion of the shoe. Thankfully though, it eased off after a slight bed-in period over the first couple of rides. The slightly padded tongue prevents any pressure hot spots on the top of the foot. However, it does lead to a slight bed-in period at the start of a ride where the fasteners have to be re-tightened once or twice to keep the shoe snug. The padded heel is comfortable, locking in the heel a touch and making the shoe more secure on the foot.

Down on the sole there’s a reasonably rearward cleat track for a gravity-focused cleat position. I ran the cleats slammed back as far as they would go, and was left in a comfortable spot. It’s not the deepest track going, so non-Crankbrothers cleats can protrude a touch if used with a spacer below.

Crankbrothers Mallet Trail BOA Clip Shoe Review

PERFORMANCE | The Mallet Trail shoes are a nicely balanced shoe in terms of weather resistance and breathability. They’re not ultra-airy, but so far provided a comfortable place for my feet up to the 14-degree maximum temperatures Scotland has been blessed with this Winter. Down towards freezing, it’s clear they’re not a Winter-focused shoe, which will likely come as no surprise. I was comfortable on rides down to 5C/40F with a standard sock, but I do have fairly warm feet. They shook off some puddle splashes without letting any water through, but are certainly not waterproof above the TPU bumper. After a while they will let some through the upper and into the foot. Drying them out proved to be unproblematic, with a couple of hours on a radiator getting them back to dry and ready to get at it again.

As with just about every shoe I’ve tested featuring an elastic gaiter, the Crankbrothers Mallet Trail’s cuff tends to go a touch baggy once the foot is flexed on the pedals. It still acts to keep out dirt better than if it wasn’t there, but I’d love to see a way to tighten it and close off the gap better.

I experimented with a set of Crankbrothers Mallet Enduro pedals initially, then switched out for my old faithful Hope Union Gravity Clips to check their compatibility. The Crankbrothers cleats required a spacer underneath as fitted out of the box, whereas the Hope cleats were okay running directly onto the cleat track. Both pedals played nicely with the Match sole, with similar success for clip and release. Hope pedals usually outrank the Mallets in this respect for me, so the Crankbrothers sole must be helping.

Under the foot, the Mallet Trails strike a nice balance between XC efficiency and Enduro comfort. Stiffness is slightly above average and the cushioning reasonable if not exceptional, making them a happy place for my feet for mid-length descents and laying down the power. I found on extended descents – especially in rougher terrain – some pain would creep in around the outer edge of my foot. This is the same zone as I suffered from being overly tight to begin with, so it could simply be a slight swelling of my foot leading to this discomfort. On mellower terrain the light weight and relatively low profile of the Mallet Trail shoes provide a comfortable time, avoiding the feel of carrying excess bulk.

Off the bike, walking traction on soil is reasonable and they feel fairly natural. As with most clipless shoes, walking on rocks is a little perilous, but fairly manageable even so.

DURABILITY | I managed to tear some of the sole rubber with the Crankbrothers pedals in the first couple of rides. Following this, they stood up to the abuse for the rest of testing, and still clean up well. There’s been no degradation to their performance and no frayed stitches or unglued bonds. They’re in it for the long haul as far as I can tell.

The Wolf’s Last Word

I really like the Crankbrothers Mallet Trail shoes. They strike a good blend of weight, comfort and protection; making them very versatile from more pedal-intensive trail missions through to light enduro riding.

Price: $219.99 /€ 219.99


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