As gravel riding and bikepacking continue to grow in popularity, riders are venturing further into remote riding regions. So, the idea of having a specific shoe to cope with this rugged terrain makes sense, right?!
This type of riding requires a pair of kicks which will not only allow efficient pedalling, but are comfortable and – most importantly – easy to walk around in. Let’s face it: if you’re venturing beyond the tarmac you’re likely to have to hike-a-bike at some point, and a good, walkable, pair of shoes will make that less difficult than it needs to be. Not to mention, after a tough day in the saddle you’ll have more chance of making it for a handle at the country pub, without falling over. Win-win.
Over the past few years, as I’ve taken on more adventures, I have tried several different types of shoe, so trust me when I say: road shoes (and pedals) don’t work, they suck! In the last couple of years, mixed-terrain riders have started adopting mountain bike shoes and pedals. Ultimately, we still want a well performing, aesthetically pleasing shoe without any drama, especially when adventuring far from home.
Recently, a package landed on my doorstep and like a kid at Christmas, I ripped open the courier bag. Straight away, it was obvious Quoc put a lot of effort into their packaging. Complete with simple lace-up construction, the shoes look deluxe and the best part is you also get a slick looking bag and a pair of technical merino blend socks as well. Let’s be frank, who doesn’t like a new pair of socks?! I was excited and I hadn’t even worn them yet...!
To try ‘em out, I lined up a few gravel rides and a multi-day bikepacking trip. The first ride meant an early start, so putting on the socks was a warm welcome first thing in the morning. Next, I laced up the Quocs. They feature two locations of patented lock-lacing, which took a bit of getting used to - but it was early morning after all! With the dawn’s first rays searing through the trees and the crunch of gravel under my tyres, I was rolling. Initially, the Quocs laced to my feet felt good albeit not super-amazing, but it was only my first time in them.
The shoes are supportive, however, the main upper body is quite stiff, so it does take some effort to get the right fit across your feet. After a few tries, I figured out that you need to pull the laces through the double-locking eyelets. This allows the laces to stay tight. You can then tighten and adjust them to your desired fit. I particularly liked the elastic strap provided to stow the laces. The Quocs felt stiff enough for me to apply power through the pedals, and this is helped by the reinforced sole. When I jumped off the bike to capture an all-important ‘gram, they gripped to the gravel.
As my rides in these kicks increased, the Quocs got better and more supple. I liked them so much I decided to take them on a bikepacking mission over summer. The route devised was bloody ambitious. It was the sort of journey that required traversing mountains to get to the sea - stream crossings with the bike on my shoulders would be a daily occurrence. Thankfully, Quoc know a thing or two about wet riding. Being based in the UK does have its benefits… sometimes. Quoc wanted to craft a shoe that resists water from getting inside. This involves heat-welding a wide rubber strip all the way around the shoe, above the sole. Laser perforations sparingly scattered across the synthetic upper, provide ventilation. The result is a shoe that Quoc calls ‘waterproof’ up to the top of the formerly mentioned rubber band. I found that whilst the shoes did resist some of the water, in the end it still managed to get in. I was in over ankle deep on a river bed, however.
The trip was filled with glorious days in the saddle and epic hike-a-bike missions over six hours. The Quoc kicks held up substantially and never faltered. I’d get to the end of the day without any pain or numbness, which says a lot for the demanding riding and walking I put them through.
Words & Images: Liam Friary and Cameron Mackenzie
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