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Verdict: 
With an impressive performance largely thanks to very good carbon fibre soles, these offer exceptional value for money
Weight: 
617g
dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial
8 10

The dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoes are stiff, a reasonable weight and pretty comfortable. With a carbon fibre sole and an Atop dial closure, they're great value at their £120 RRP never mind at the £84 you can get them for now.

  • Pros: Cheap, exceptionally good sole for the money
  • Cons: Low on ventilation, uppers aren't especially supple

Let's start at the sole because, to me, that's the best feature. It's full-carbon with a 3k weave top layer. Although it's not the most rigid sole I've ever used, it's pretty damn stiff and there's no sense that your power is being directed anywhere but straight into your pedals.

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - sole heel.jpg

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - sole heel.jpg

The sole takes road-style three-bolt cleats – Shimano SPD-SL, Look Kéo, and so on – with grid markings to help you match one shoe to the other, and you get mesh vents under the toes and the middle of the foot. The heel protector isn't replaceable but, even so, the sole is of a quality you'll find on much, much more expensive shoes.

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - sole toe.jpg

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - sole toe.jpg

The polyurethane upper isn't as supple as you'll find on some higher end shoes but it conforms to the shape of your foot reasonably well, the tension applied by two Velcro lower straps – the lower one of which you'll set once and never touch again – and an Atop dial-adjusted upper strap.

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - sides.jpg

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - sides.jpg

If you've not used one before, an Atop dial is a little like a Boa in that it's a clickety-click wheel that controls a lace. Turn it one way and it incrementally tightens the lace, turn it the other way and it lets the tension go. One slight wrinkle is that you can't loosen incrementally – you'll end up letting out a little too much lace and dialling it in again, which is very much a First World problem, admittedly! On the plus side, you can adjust the dial through thick neoprene overshoes, and it's easily replaced if it ever gets damaged. If you're not into the dial, the dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Ratchet is cheaper at £100 RRP, currently reduced to £78.

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - dial.jpg

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - dial.jpg

You get deep padding around the opening, and the tongue is padded too. Holes through the tongue provide ventilation and various sections of the upper are perforated, although there are no mesh panels up top. I rarely get hot feet (ooh, I'm a martyr to poor circulation; don't get me started) so that's not really an issue for me, but if you do then maybe you'd be better off with something with more airflow.

dhb has completely redeveloped the fit from that of its previous shoes using a different last, the idea being that the new range will work well for most foot shapes. The fit is said to be close to brands like Giro and Fizik, if you've tried either of those.

> Buyer's Guide: 15 of the best performance cycling shoes from £45-£900

I took my usual shoe size here and found the dhb Aeron Carbons roomy in the toe box, so I had that lower strap cinched right in. I could easily wear a pair of thick merino wool socks underneath. If you're wide across the forefoot then these might be worth a try. I had to cut the straps down a bit and I'd almost – but not quite – be tempted to go a size smaller than normal.

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - toe.jpg

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - toe.jpg

The uppers are comfortable in use, the offset straps – a feature you'll also see on shoes from Giro and Shimano, for example – pulling the two sides together over the top of your foot, spreading the load evenly and holding tight with no noticeable stretch when you're sprinting. I felt that the heel counter could have been firmer to lock my foot in place on the upstroke, but that was an issue only when really going for it out of the saddle.

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - heels.jpg

dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial - heels.jpg

The footbed (why aren't they called insoles anymore?) adds to the comfort. Along with the outsole, it offers some arch support and there's a little cushioning in the forefoot, over the top of the cleat attachment area.

Overall, you're getting a lot for your money here. The full-carbon soles are exceptionally good for what you're paying and the uppers are decent enough too. The dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoes might be a little clumpy compared with high-end race shoes, but that's fair enough because they aren't high-end race shoes. For the price, you'll struggle to find anything as good as these.

Verdict

With an impressive performance largely thanks to very good carbon fibre soles, these offer exceptional value for money

road.cc test report

Make and model: dhb Aeron Carbon Road Shoe Dial

Size tested: 46

Tell us what the product is for

Here's dhb's full writeup. Strap yourself in, it's pretty long.

"Lightweight & stiff, the all new dhb Aeron Carbon Road Dial cycle shoes are engineered for performance. Not only do these shoes enhance your performance out on the road, they also deliver on comfort and fit.

"Designed for speed, these dhb shoes combine a premium carbon sole with a sophisticated ATOP dial system.

"The ergonomic strap system works to spread even amounts of pressure over the whole of the foot for a secure, comfortable fit. The dial adjustment allows for a fine-tuned fit, with on-the-fly adjustment - whether that's to loosen the pressure from a long climb, or to tighten it up for that finish line sprint. Keeping a slim profile while offering plenty of toe box room was dhb's goal for the fit, and striking the right balance makes these shoes suitable for a wide range of foot shapes.

"The full carbon sole works to deliver excellent power-transfer, making the most of every watt. dhb have used a 3k weave for the top layer to offer an ideal combination of stiffness and comfort where it counts. Ventilation is key to comfort when the efforts are intense, and dhb have added air vents to the sole to improve this.

"Perforated holes on the top of the shoe increase breathability even more for warmer weather riding, or more intense sessions. The side of the shoes is more robust, protecting against contact with the terrain or bike. The perforated tongue also helps to increase airflow and shapes over the top of the foot for added comfort when you close the straps.

"These shoes have a default, flat neutral footbed, which allows you to use your favourite footbed if required, for an even more specific fit."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

The shoes use an Atop dial adjustment and three bolt Look/SPD-SL cleats.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

The uppers are tough. The heel protector isn't replaceable but it's thick and is going to last a long time.

Rate the product for fit:
 
7/10

dhb has gone for quite a wide fit here (people with narrow feet can draw the sides of a wide shoe in whereas people with wide feet will never be able to use a narrow shoe) so you get a roomy toe box.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
6/10

Sizing is generous. I nearly had to go for a size smaller than usual.

Rate the product for weight:
 
6/10

They're not especially light compared with higher end shoes but they're a reasonable weight considering the price.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
7/10

Pay more and you'll get more supple uppers, but these still offer a good level of comfort.

Rate the product for value:
 
9/10

The soles in particular are ahead of anything else I know of at this price. The Bontrager Circuit Road shoes (£99.99) that we reviewed recently, for example, have nylon composite soles and we found that to affect efficiency. These also have better soles than the Northwave Sonic 2 SRS (£99.99) shoes that we reviewed last year. The dhb's uppers aren't as good as their soles but these still offer exceptional value for money.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

You just wipe over the uppers with a damp cloth. Easy. Grit can get caught in the perforations on wet rides but it's not really an issue. It'll come out if you're persistent.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

These shoes put in a good performance – very good when you take price into account. The stiff carbon fibre sole is the real star of the show.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The price and the carbon fibre sole.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

A slightly slimmer fit, especially across the toe box, would suit my foot shape better.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yeah, they put in a surprisingly good performance.

Would you consider buying the product? If I was after something at this price point, certainly.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

If you average out the scores these would get a 7. However, I'd put much more importance on the value score than on the sizing score, for example, hence an 8 overall.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

10 comments

Avatar
macrophotofly [298 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Very intrigued by these. I have a medium-wide foot that is too slim for Shimano (et al) "Wide" fittings but often too wide for the majority of shoes. I am just about comfortable in a Giro (if the uppers are very soft) but a Specialized is perfect for me (they are a mm or two wider than the Giro). I note above that the soles are supposed to be like a Giro but then it mentions later in the article that they are better for slightly wide feet (like mine?). Wondering therefore if they are closer to a Specialized base than a Giro?

 

Fantastic price for a quality-looking product.

Avatar
Mat Brett [661 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

I've not used Specialized lately so can't compare directly.

dhb's Rich Land says, "We'd describe these as offering a medium fit – they don't have a slim toebox like a Sidi, nor a super-wide fit like a Northwave. We've tried to get a ‘best of both worlds' fit, with slightly more room around the toebox for better wiggle room, and also to give you room for when you're switching out socks from summer to winter. 

"We've developed the shoes with a neutral shape and a little more volume around the toebox, but without needing to go to a wide fitting. It adds a bit more volume, top-to-bottom and side-to-side, but when you look at the shoe it's not as obvious until you put your feet in."

Hope that helps.

 

Avatar
Ogi [135 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

Snobbery aside, do we road cyclists really need better than Dhb? I'm amazed what the guys are doing for the price. Shames all of the premium brands...don't get me wrong. I love my Assos Tiburu bib and Sidi shoes :).

Avatar
alansmurphy [1489 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

I suppose it depends on your snobbery levels, wallet and needs. I have issues with my feet so may pay a premium for perfection (or my perception thereof) but then wear Aldi or DHB shorts and jersey...

Avatar
drosco [428 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I don't care what brand as long as they do the job. Find throwing vast sums in the name of image pretty tasteless.

Avatar
Pfaff [14 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Nice I suppose, but I haven’t my big toe in the middle of the foot.

 

Avatar
fenix [867 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

They look decent but why no reflectives ? Any running shoe has plenty of reflectives and i never even run on the road.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2088 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
fenix wrote:

They look decent but why no reflectives ? Any running shoe has plenty of reflectives and i never even run on the road.

Good point, for some reason we hardly ever see them on cycling shoes - beats the hell out of me why not. Given the amount of suitable materials it's not like they even have to be noticeable in the day-time, so the appearance doesn't have to 'suffer' for want of a better word. Bloody odd...

Avatar
Prosper0 [116 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
fukawitribe wrote:
fenix wrote:

They look decent but why no reflectives ? Any running shoe has plenty of reflectives and i never even run on the road.

Good point, for some reason we hardly ever see them on cycling shoes - beats the hell out of me why not. Given the amount of suitable materials it's not like they even have to be noticeable in the day-time, so the appearance doesn't have to 'suffer' for want of a better word. Bloody odd...

 

Possibly because they’re cheap? Can’t have everything.

My Sidis and Fiziks have reflective areas. 

Might be worth mentioning that super stiff carbon soled cycling shoes aren’t for everyone. Just because these are the same price as a mid priced shoe doesn’t mean that it’s better for everyone. Super stiff carbon soles transfer much more road chatter and wear your feet out - especially if you’re not super strong or off on a long ride. 

Horses for courses 

Avatar
fukawitribe [2088 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
Prosper0 wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:
fenix wrote:

They look decent but why no reflectives ? Any running shoe has plenty of reflectives and i never even run on the road.

Good point, for some reason we hardly ever see them on cycling shoes - beats the hell out of me why not. Given the amount of suitable materials it's not like they even have to be noticeable in the day-time, so the appearance doesn't have to 'suffer' for want of a better word. Bloody odd...

 

Possibly because they’re cheap? Can’t have everything.

My Sidis and Fiziks have reflective areas. 

 

Not all road shoes are cheap, these aren't particularly, but adding reflectives wouldn't necessarily add much. That said, nothing will change without incentive so it would be nice to see how that might be possible. My Sidis don't have any reflective elements, i'm obviously a Sidi povo  3