First Look: Giro’s Flashy Privateer Shoes

Nothing says racer! like white shoes. Well, except for shaved legs and sub-2in semi slicks. White, my friends, is for winners.

Targeted at the self-financed mountain bike racer (in other words: most of us) and all around rider are Giro’s new Privateer mountain shoes. Building off the success of last year’s high end offerings, the Privateers are a flashy 2 strap/1 ratchet shoe that come into more riders’ reach at a reasonable $150. Not into white? The Privateers are also available in a more earthy black/gum option as well. After a couple of months in what I (affectionately) think of as the Imperial Stormtrooper shoes, how are they feeling? Hit the jump…

Out of the box, the Privateers are an impressive shoe. There’s a bit of unkempt fabric peeking out from behind the top strap, but the overall construction (breathable synthetic upper, DuPont Zytel plastic outsole) is impressive. The Giros run well on the small end of the market: though I ride a Specialized 43 and Shimano 43.5, it took a 44 for my low-volume feet to be comfortable. If they’re available locally, trying a pair on would be a good idea.

Though it feels like an odd thing to highlight, the thing that I notice about the Privateers every time I pull them on is the ratchet. With a feel that has eluded almost all of their competition, Giro’s ratchet is somehow the more satisfying and easier to use than any that I’ve used in ages. The overall fit is snug but comfortable, and my low volume (but average width) feet fill the Privateers’ volume well (an appropriately named Privateer HV is also available for riders with higher volume feet).

On the trail, the offset straps have been comfortable on several-hour rides and the soles have provided plenty of off-bike traction. The Zytel midsole isn’t nearly as stiff as some other sub-$200 shoes’, limiting comfort on longer rides and while on the single speed. The heel cup is deep and well padded, providing good security. Off-bike comfort and traction are good, and mid-shoe tread keeps a missed pedal from being a painful experience: the Privateers would likely be a good cyclocross shoe.

Despite the unkempt fabric under the top strap, the Giros seem very well made. The white material wipes down easily and still looks reasonably new. Though bigger or more powerful riders might do well to spend a few more dollars on something stiffer, the Privateers seem like a solid mid-range choice. Stay tuned for a final verdict at the other end of summer…


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Mr. P
10 years ago

marc, do the lugs have a hard plastic on the lugs that slip on pavement or rocks? Or are they more grippy like a Shimano sole?


10 years ago

Not bad looking but my guess is Giro has never seen what North Carolina red clay can do to mountain biking shoes.

tim o
tim o
10 years ago

@Huffman: “Not into white? The Privateers are also available in a more earthy black/gum option as well.”

10 years ago

tim o, didn’t say I didn’t like the white, they are pretty snazzy, it’s the red clay that doesn’t play well with the white.

If someone wants to send me a “test” pair I’d trash them about in the NC red clay this summer then do a full report with photos! That’s just the stand up type of guy I am.

The black/gum version do look good too, don’t know why they didn’t show them here.

Hard to think that $150 is the new “reasonable” price for shoes but that’s what it seems. My first pair of SIDI top of the line MTB shoes were $100. Bet they are pushing $500 now.