The Suplest Road Pro Aero are said to be made for the cyclist who wants to be fast. Chris Hovenden puts them to the test.
|Product||Suplest Road Pro Aero|
|Weight||295g per shoe|
|Other colours||See website|
|Grade||C – interesting concept, but room for improvement.|
On the road with Suplest
Suplest, the company based in Bern, Switzerland, collaborated with the Swiss Cycling team to produce a pair of shoes focussed on the Swiss Track team for Rio 2016 – the Suplest Road Pro Aero.
When designing the shoes, Suplest says its aim was to reduce the drag of the shoes to create a pair of kicks that were fast and aerodynamic.
The USP of the Suplest Road Pro Aero is that the shoes come equipped with normal laces that are then covered by a cover and a zipper. A bit like an integrated lace-cover system rather than laces with a separate slip-on sleeve design as used by the Specialized Sub-6.
The benefit of lace retention systems (as opposed to wires, ratchets, and dial set-ups), is said to be twofold: (i) they are supposed to provide a better fit and connection with the shoes, which in turn should mean better power transfer to the pedals; and (ii) with the reduced overall volume of the shoes they are intended to reduce drag and improve aerodynamics.
However, there are those who are anti-laces. The main arguments, which I have some sympathy with, are that you cannot adjust the fit on the fly (as you can with dials or ratchets), and that over the duration of a ride the laces slip/lose their tightness.
Having said that, the general consensus is that lace retention systems can be a better option for shorter bike races, such as a 10 or 25 mile time trial.
It’s impossible not to discuss the shoes’ aesthetics; the finish and look of the Suplest Road Pro Aero shoes are divisive. On group rides as many riders have complemented the shiny and slick appearance as those that have said they prefer a more classic style shoe.
Doing the zipper up over the laces is straightforward and in addition to the aero benefit of the cover, it also helps keep out the wind and rain making the Suplest Road Pro Aero a good option in the colder months.
The Suplest Road Pro Aero have dimples on the heel cup to further improve the secure fit and also help prevent your foot slipping in the shoe, especially towards the end of longer rides.
The combination of the interestingly shaped SOLSTAR foot-bed and the carbon sole provides a comfortable yet stiff shoe. I found the kicks to be comfortable on rides of 3-4 hours, although there are stiffer road shoes on the market.
For ventilation there are multiple holes in the seamless upper along with two mesh sections in the carbon sole. However, I would prefer more breathability, especially when wearing the Suplest Road Aero for turbo sessions.
The shoes are equipped with replaceable heel and toe lugs to help protect the carbon sole from betting scuffed/damaged.
However, after several months of use the cover has slightly split at the top and the inside of both heels has been worn from rubbing against the crankset. Further, there are far lighter shoes available, if that is a concern.
The elephant in the room is that, although some long-distance triathletes have been spotted wearing Giro Empire lace-up shoes with elastic laces rather than classic laces, the Suplest Road Pro Aero are not triathlon focused. Yes, their drag saving attributes mean they are well suited to cycling time trials, but if you are considering using them for long-distance triathlon the time-savings you may make on the bike are likely to be negated in T1 and T2.
Aero and comfortable. However, not the most robust and the appeal for triathletes is limited.