The Liv Macha Pro Carbon Road Shoe is a top-end design for those who are serious about performance on the bike (or have the money simply to enjoy riding in a quality shoe). The shoes have a super-stiff sole and effective Boa closure, are lightweight and fit exceptionally well around the arch area. The price is high, but so is the performance.
Like most female-specific shoes, the Macha Pro has been designed around a female last. Women's feet tend to be narrower at the ankle and lower volume. Female-specific shoes take this into account, and the biggest manufacturers are accessing huge databases to ensure they are designing products that not only fit exceptionally well, but also aid performance. Liv is one of these, and the Macha Pros are evidence that it's getting it right.
The shoes fit beautifully. In the past I have worn a size 42, male-specific shoe – I have very wide feet and found that a certain brand and model fitted really well – so I was pleasantly surprised that when I pulled on the Macha Pros there were no immediate pinch-points. The seamless upper is very supple, and when you tighten the shoes with the two Boa fasteners they simply mould themselves to your foot.
The fastening cords reach down to a third tightening point, giving millimetre-fine adjustment over the largest portion of the foot that is performing in unison with the pedal (many performance shoes use Velcro as a third adjuster). The Boa fasteners result in evenly spread pressure, with micro-adjustments easily possible while riding – even through an overshoe.
The tongue is soft and flexible, too, with a lightly tapered edge; there is no ridge to dig into the top of the foot.
There is a strip of soft padding that lines the upper edge of the ankle/heel area of the shoe, which really ensures comfort during longer rides and periods of aggressive riding. Even after four-plus hours in the saddle there was absolutely no discomfort around any part of the ankle/heel area. I did begin to feel a little pinch at the widest part of my foot after about three hours of riding in warmer temperatures, but as I said, I have seriously wide feet and frequently experience this in my regular shoes during the summer months.
I was intrigued by the sole of the Macha Pros, which looks like a conventional sole with a big chunk taken out of it (it also features on the men's Giant Surge Pros, tested by Stu – Liv being the female arm of the Giant brand). It's called the ExoBeam, and as with the men's shoe, the aim is to provide just enough torsional flex to allow natural foot, ankle and knee movements during the pedal stroke without compromising on power transfer.
The beam is combined with ExoWrap: a band incorporated to keep 'the foot wrapped securely during power transfer into the pedal stroke, while preserving the natural mechanics of the body'. This might all sound a bit flowery, but, in short, it works. The shoes are as stiff as any other top-end shoe I have used, power transfer is in no way compromised.
Even though there is no plate directly under the arch, if you tighten the Boa fasteners you immediately sense the wrap providing support – it pulls up and against the arch. It's like a personalised orthotic.
As someone who normally wears orthotics, I made use of the high insert to provide extra support. It sits securely under the insoles and is as rigid as an orthotic but without the length and weight. There is a mid-support option, or you can simply go without.
There is good ventilation in the uppers: heat can escape in virtually all directions thanks to the panels of tiny holes on the tops and sides. There is also a ventilation point in the carbon plate which lines up with the ventilation holes on the insole to help keep the underfoot cool. On the flipside, the profile of the shoe and its lack of bulk make it really easy to pull on an overshoe – useful given the approaching winter.
Textured toe and heel studs are built into the sole and they are really grippy – perfect when tackling café paths and steps – and the heel stud is replaceable. I have done a decent amount of walking in them (not easy), but although the studs are showing signs of wear you would need to be walking miles to warrant new ones.
Markings on the soles to aid cleat fitting are plentiful and there is a decent patch of 'rough stuff' where the cleat sits to help making micro-adjustments easy.
The Macha Pros not only feel great on and perform brilliantly, they look great! Okay, so white isn't everyone's choice, and is not especially practical in this country, but the shoes wipe clean really easily. I used them on some pretty mucky roads and soon had dark, oily looking marks on them, all of which wiped off in no time. The mesh-like material on the tongue is a bit more resistant to being cleaned.
Like most road shoes, they aren't resistant to rain but the ventilation holes mean they dry out relatively quickly. This should help keep smells at bay too.
Liv has kept the design understated – you can barely even read the logo on the iridescently patterned heel area. They simply look classy and the absence of colour means they will match most bikes and kit – important for the fashion conscious.
If the colour really is an issue for you, you're out of luck – Liv only offers white. You could drop down a level to the Macha Comp (£129.99) which are all black and retain many of the great features of the Pro, but you will only have one Boa fastener and you will gain a few grams.
If you are unwilling to compromise on performance, it might be worth looking at the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader V4 Unisex that Mat reviewed in the spring. Those are now £249.99 and are of a similar performance rating.
Unsurprisingly, the Macha Pros are light – 530g. The Pearl Izumi Leaders come in at 633g (albeit a size 46).
Liv certainly cannot be accused of 'shrink and pink' with the Macha Pros: these shoes look classy, feel great and perform superbly. The price tag might appear steep but they are around the same as comparable performance-focused shoes. You may well deem them worth the investment.
Innovative features and a great fit make these worth the investment if you're seeking performance with style
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Liv Macha Pro Carbon Road Shoes
Size tested: 42
Tell us what the product is for
Liv says, "Imagine yourself confidently breaking away from the pack''during a climb. On your feet? The Macha Pro carbon road shoes, our highest-level shoe built to help make your dreams a reality. Like you, the Macha Pro gets to work. It converts every pedal stroke into speed, while allowing you to maintain focus on the road ahead. Made with Motion Efficiency System."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Liv lists these features:
-Injection moulded TPU elements in both heel and toe help protect the carbon ExoBeamTM plate from wear while off the bike
-100% Motion Efficiency System carbon fibre outsole''keeps the forefoot stiff while enabling torsional movement of the rear and mid foot
-Built from a woman-specific fit last with a smaller forefoot and heel volume
-Highest quality upper material offers excellent support, comfort and ventilation at extremely low weight
-Replaceable heel stud
-On-the-fly micro-adjustment Boa closure system integrated with ExoWrapTM technology offers unsurpassed fit and support
-Sharkskin textured material keeps heels from slipping
-Breathable TransTexturaPlusTM sockliner lets heat escape, keeps feet feeling fresh, and provides adjustable arch support
-Microfiber collar lining
-SPD SL Cleat compatibility
They are not going to look pristine for long, indeed the carbon soles already have several scratches on them, but the performance of the shoe isn't impaired.
A tiny pinch around the widest part of my foot, but I have very wide feet.
I normally take a 42, these are great.
The ExoWrap tech makes the shoes seriously comfortable around the mid-foot/arch. A mild hot spot kicked in at the outer edge of my foot, but my feet are exceptionally wide. I suspect this won't be a problem for most.
It's a high price tag, but it's a high-end shoe.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Main outer wipes clean well. Mesh-like material on the tongue is rather more resistant to being cleaned.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Micro adjustment of Boa fasteners; Exowrap system providing a snug fit around the arch.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Excellent product equates to a tough to swallow price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're £25 more than Pearl Izumi's P.R.O. Leader V4 Unisex, with very similar design features. You can pay more for comparable performance shoes such as Specialized's S-Works 7 (rrp £325) and Sidi's Wire Carbon (rrp £325).
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they were looking to spend that much money, certainly.
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're exceptional shoes: superbly constructed, very comfortable with an exceptionally good fit around the arch area, lightweight, performance-focused, with an innovative sole that is very rigid while allowing sufficient torsional motion. Pricey yes, but if you want high performance they're worth it.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road
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, getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…