Road shoes - Ratchet vs Lace-ups

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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by dillonko

Am currently in the market for a new pair of road shoes, and eyeing a pair such as the new Giro Empire.

It's a personal thing, but i don't really enjoy the look of Ratchet system shoes. The Giro Empire or Vittoria's retro-modern shoes seem to fit the bill, lace-ups and all.
I used to only ride vintage, but have "moved up" to a semi-modern ride as of late, and so my only experience with cycling shoes are stiff-soled leather ones by Quoc Pham (love them btw) for use with clips and straps.

Anyone has any thoughts on the practicalities of a ratchet vs lace-up system for clipless, or better still, a review on the Giro Empire in specific?
(disclaimer: i have a higher tolerance for self-inflicted pain and much less for equipment-inflicted pain)

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by bricky21

The fit matters most. I have D2's, and they fit so good that 3 velcro straps is all they need.

by Weenie

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by winky

Yeah. Old-timers who have lived through the age of lace-up cycling shoes and toe clips know that a lace-up shoes offers much more customization in terms of adjusting the fitted feel of the shoe. The downside is the lack of on-the-bike adjustability, but that doesn't stop Taylor Phinney from using them.

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by Rick

I feel like my Specialized S-works give me better control than a lace-up. Remember that laces have a lot of friction across each other and at the eyelet crossings. The S-wrks ratchets, cables, and cable-guides are super smooth, almost frictionless. I actually preferred 3-velcro straps to laces.
I think the 2012 S-works system is pretty close to perfection. I haven't used 2013, but it is not changed much.

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by Geoff

Oh, you crazy kids.

I must be one of the 'old-timers' you are talking about. When I was a Cadet, the shoes were either made of leather, or leather with a wooden sole, instead of leather with a steel shank. There were only laces, as there were no other fasteners yet invented. My first pair were a beautiful pair of Sabatini perforated leather shoes, complete with our team logos. Cool. You hipster kids would love them.

When Adidas came out with the 'Eddy Merckx' shoe, it had a nylon sole and a ballistic nylon upper. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! A shoe that didn't stretch and bleed al over your socks in the snow and rain (our socks were only white, too)! The shoes still had laces.

I won my first pair of Look pedals and shoes ina race in Ontario when they were first released. The shoes were fastened with velcro straps. I couldn't believe that we could now adjust the shoes on-the-fly. I could have comfort during the stage and then tighten the straps for the sprint! What would they think of next!

Turns out, it's laces, again... :noidea:

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by Northoceanbeach

you don't need to quote the post above

lol, I guess, but I don't think they'll make too much of a comeback.

I have the same s-works as above poster and agree that it's pretty much the perfect system. So perfect in fact that when I got a pair of Lowa hiking boots last week, I was confused why I couldn't get them to fit my feet like my bike shoes. I was tugging on this lace and that, and after I got it tight enough it would slip here just a little and once tied, it wasn't perfect. I say BOA for everything.

I truly wouldn't be surprised if it starts to spread to hiking, then running, then everybody will be wearing it.

Laces are ok for dress shoes.

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by Imaking20

I've been a big fan of boa systems since using them on motorcycle boots (Sidi Vortice) then my Lake CX170... I'm not so fond of my 2012 S-Works though. In actuality, the whole shape of the shoe just doesn't really work for my foot. Bummer. Hoping to try the Empire next *drool*
Acid Minty

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by VMac

Geoff wrote:Turns out, it's laces, again... :noidea:

Ha, definitely not the Next Big Thing. Why does everything have to be? Diversity and choice are great things. I pick up my pair of Empires tomorrow, and I am very optimistic based on some friends' feedback. The will not be replacing my S-Works... they will be augmenting them.

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by tommasini

Laces are out unless you ride with toe straps.....which I grew up with and would never return to after clipless came along.

With today's modern clipless pedals the upper of the shoe is called upon to do much keep in mind that what you thought was adequate tension when you pumped up your tires and rolled out might not be so great once you're in the pack headed down the road. If you had toe straps you might make up for it a bit but with clipless you're stuck (if using laces). Also you may need to adjust tension in the shoe during a long hot day ride where the feet can swell or to tighten things up prior to a sprint - for those reasons and more the ratchet system is supreme.

Laces "look" retro and that's exactly what they are - for a time gone by

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by fdegrove


Boa and other similar systems are what exactly?
Aren't these system essentially on the fly adjustable laces?

90% of the time three Velcro straps do just fine for most of us I'd reckon....

Ciao, ;)
Being a snob is an expensive hobby.

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by dmp

I'm not sure why anyone would want laces. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we rode in lace up shoes, I used to tuck the laces into the shoe, lest a stray lace get caught in between the chain and chainring. That was not a pleasant event- don't ask how I know- but neither was the irritation caused by the lump of those laces rubbing between your foot and the shoe. I am not entirely sure, however, that the ratchet system is all that much better than just 3 velcro straps (I ride in Sidi Ergo's so I have 1 ratchet, 1 boa, and 1 velcro, the first 2 of which are not that easy to adjust on the fly).
Last edited by dmp on Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by vittoriashoes

Hello all. And thanks for the comments on your preferences.

I do have to say as someone that has all of the different systems and has the chance to use them and other prototype systems, there is still nothing wrong with simplicity.

Our Vittoria Classic line is a wonderfully simple shoe. Lorica upper, UniDirectional Carbon Sole and laces. For those who want a cable closure, velcro straps, buckles, those are great. But remember, there are many people who can not use those systems. Pressure on their forefoot, instep, arch, whereever. There are many people who use our Unique three velcro race shoes($350, 200 grams) because they can not handle the pressure of a cable closure like on our Hora or Hora EVO.

While some people feel laces are a by-gone style or design, we sell many many pair of our Classic models to Track Racers. The fit and how tight you can get the shoes in all areas of the foot are a real advantage. If there was no advantage to a lace up shoe, they wouldn't be making them for every sport out there, including the new shoes by that "G" company.

Just my opinion being in the biz for over 25 years.

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by dvincere

I love using laces again with my me Empire shoes. There's a nice piece of rubberized cloth to tuck the laces under mid way up the shoe so they'll never get caught in a chain ring. Choose a lacing method that distributes pressure well for you and go. It's very secure and the most customizable for fit preferences. The again, I'm capable of getting my fit right before I ride off which is apparently a lot harder to do than I thought based on the number of people here constantly adjusting. Previously I raced with three Velcro straps. Didn't like the hassle of a clippy strap or boa breaking before or during a big race. That's apparently why Mr. Phinney switched full-time, after busting a buckle. Go with what you like. I'm glad for all these options and won't hate in any of them. They all work for some people. Laces work best for me.

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by Northoceanbeach

Probably a little better on the track because you don't have to deal with changing weather and feet swelling/shrinking so much.

by Weenie

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by topflightpro

I am not a fan of the BOA system on my Lakes. Mine have a single ratchet.

My complaint is that when I put on the shoes, everything is fine. But when I pedal, as I pull up in the stroke, the BOA system allows my heel to pull out of the shoe as the lacing tightens around my toes. It just allows for too much movement.

I suspect that shoes with multiple BOA ratchets do not have this problem.

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