At 552g/pair (size 43), Gaerne G.Chrono Road shoes are among the lighter road shoes around. They're also tough, comfortable and extremely stiff.
Unless you have your own mechanic-cum-bike cleaner or far too much time on your hands, then some things in bike life should be black. Handlebar tape, tyre rubber, saddles and shoes are all easier to look after if they're black, and it's definitely part of the reason why the Gaerne Carbon G.Chrono Road shoes have been my favourite shoes for many months now.
Of course, it's far from being the only or the most important reason, and there are other colours available if you don't have the good sense to stick with sensible black.
Stiff & comfy
Where the Gaerne G.Chrono Road shoes really score is their combination of rigidity and comfort. That they don't trouble the scales much is just the icing on the cake.
The comfort comes from the carbon fiber sole mentioned in the name, and that's a mandatory component of any road cycling shoe at this price. It's perfectly shaped – for my fairly average size 43s anyway – with spot-on support from toe to heel.
Just as a saddle's comfort depends crucially on the shape of the base, so it it with shoes and soles, and Gaerne have got it dialled here.
Speaking of dials, a shiny microfibre upper wraps round the top of your foot and is closed by a pair of BOA ratchets, an adjustment system to which I've become totally and sadly addicted.
It's a dirty secret of the bike shoe world that if you want really precise adjustment of the pressure across the top of your foot, then you use laces to fasten your shoes. Problems is, laces are hard to adjust on the fly and likely to get caught in your chainrings.
With six flexible steel wires spreading the load across your foot, and a padded and reinforced tongue, the dual BOA closure on the Gaerne G.Chrono Road shoes really cossets your feet, even if you reef the dials up really tight. It provides very fine adjustment of the pressure on the top of your feet. Loosening them off is a trivial matter of popping them out; you're free in a second, or held less tightly because your feet have gotten warm and swollen a bit.
The Gaerne Carbon G.Chrono Road shoes are handmade in Italy, which can indicate a very narrow fit. In fact they're a shade wider than many Italian shoes, but you wouldn't call them broad. Hobbits should look elsewhere.
Copious ventilation also helps with comfort. There are vents in the sole and plenty of mesh in the upper that's making it very hard to resist a bad gag about letting the flavour flood out. Don't expect to wear them much past September unless you have penguins' feet.
The other details are as high-quality as you'd expect for the price. A rigid heel cup keeps your foot in place at the back of the shoe, and a replaceable rubber block on the heel reduces slipperiness on the way to the cafe counter.
If there's a feature missing, it's that there's no customisation on offer. Shoes in this price bracket from manufacturers like Shimano, Lake, fi'zi:k and Bont are mouldable in some way to fine tune the fit. If Gaerne Carbon G.Chrono Road shoes don't fit you quite right, your only option is moulded insoles at extra cost.
Available in black or black/white in sizes 39 to 48 and in white with blue, white with red and white/red in sizes 41 to 46.
Stiff, light and comfortable shoes, but for the price it would be nice to be able to mould them.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Gaerne Carbon G.Chrono Road shoes
Size tested: Size 43
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
ALL NEW for 2013: Lighter and more vented.
GLOVE-LIKE FIT - Boa provides custom comfort with smooth, even closure and no pressure points.
LIGHTWEIGHT - A Boa Closure System weighs substantially less than other cycling shoe closures and approximately one-fifth of other high-end ratchet-closure systems.
MICRO-ADJUSTABILITY - The high-precision Boa reel allows the cyclist to achieve the perfect shoe tension.
ON-THE-FLY - Simply reach down and dial in the perfect fit with a few clicks of the Boa dial.
SECURE - The Boa laces translate to superior power transfer through the entire pedal stroke.
BREATHABILITY - Free of cumbersome straps and Velcro, cyclists enjoy greater air circulation across the top of the foot.
Handmade in Italy
Available in sizes 39 to 48
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The materials and features - carbon fiber sole, microfiber upper and BOA closure - are state of the art.
I touch down with my left foot at lights, and the anti-slip pad under the toe is starting to wear. Be nice if it were replaceable like the heel block.
Three hundred quid is a lot for a pair of cycling shoes, but these feel like they're going to last for years and they're superbly comfortable.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They're comfortable, supportive and stiff; absolutely no in-use complaints.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The BOA closure provides fine adjustment and is easy to tweak while riding
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 47 Height: 5ft 10in Weight: 85kg
I usually ride: Whatever I have on test My best bike is: Scapin Style
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, touring, club rides, general fitness riding,
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.