Giro's Jacket II Flat MTB shoe might be officially designed for crazy downhillers but it's also a very decent option for super-sensible commuters and leisure riders who don't want to keep swapping between on and off-bike shoes.
Can you have the best of both worlds: a shoe that is easy to walk around in, yet offers more cycling-specific performance than a normal pair of trainers? Giro's Jacket II may just be what you're looking for.
For those readers with children or a deluded sense of their own youthfulness, the Jacket II is visually rather like something from Nike's Airwalk range. That means it boasts a chunky design, with reinforced toe and heel sections of its Vibram Ecostep rubber outsole. The sole tread shape features a couple of patterns of small uniform blocks, one hexagonal, one triangular.
The upper is made from water-resistant and breathable microfibre, which works well – even accidentally submerging my feel in an inch-deep puddle caused no ill effects. In typical situations, you won't suffer any environmental or self-induced dampness. Even the tubular laces are worth mentioning, as they hold a knot well.
For day-to-day off-the-bike use, the Jacket II is quite superb. I've been using these as my main shoes for taking the kids to school, going shopping and so on, and they are fantastically comfortable. Not only do they look a bit like Airwalks but they also enjoy much of that brand's almost slipper-like cushioning thanks to the fulsome foam footbed and sides.
On the bike, that all-embracing comfort means your foot is held in place securely. There's no sense of foot twist while pedalling and they actually offer a simple and straightforward riding experience. In short, they feel like shoes that are fit for purpose, if not quite like normal cycling shoes.
Although the Vibram EVA sole has a bit of give compared with typical cycling shoes – which is one of the reasons why the Jacket II is so easy to live with off the saddle – that doesn't translate into a massive penalty for leisure pedalling. They don't offer as efficient power transfer as stiff carbon or nylon-shanked cycling footwear, but then these aren't shoes designed for riding sportives and, in the saddle, they're certainly a better bet than non-cycling shoes.
Giro officially classes the Jacket II as a downhill shoe. To be honest, I'm not sure they'd offer quite enough grip for super-gnarly descents. However, for commuting, urban and general riding duties – especially for people who are jumping on and off the bike regularly for short trips – the grip is more than good enough.
For most of my testing I used them with a set of very modestly pinned cheap Wellgo pedals and they fared well. However, when using unpinned flat pedals, I did experience one or two foot slips, especially in wet conditions and extreme situations, such as a jumped gear change.
To really enhance your contact patch, it's worth thinking about choice of pedals. If you are going to be using these shoes with the same bike, I'd be tempted to fit a set of well-pinned flat pedals for a little extra purchase. It's not a big issue, but the better pinned your pedals, the more secure you'll find your footing.
Interestingly enough, the biggest slippage problems I've had with the Jacket IIs and pedals weren't on the bike at all but in the car. I've had to swap out of these shoes when driving because, when wet, they become a little dicey on car pedals.
We don't test many flat mountain bike shoes at road.cc, but the £84.99 Giro Rumble VRs are similar-styled albeit clip-in shoes for dry days. Shimano's GR5 is a comparable shoe for £80 or there's the GR7 for £99.99. FiveTen also makes all sorts of similar shoes but probably its most similar model – the Freerider shoe – starts at £84.95. In this context, the Jacket II's £89.99 RRP is about par for the course.
While not offering the same levels of pedalling efficiency as clip-in shoes and pedals, the Jacket II offers a decent alternative for relatively new riders or hesitant commuters who are scared of adopting cleats. However, more than that, for riders who are just fed up of having to swap shoes all the time and want something that fits in with a daily lifestyle that happens to include a spot of cycling, these are a very comfortable option.
So the Jacket II is certainly not the best dedicated cycling shoe around. But it's a great shoe that you can comfortably live in off the bike and still enjoy a bit of performance when hopping on it.
When used with grippy flat pedals these are great cycling shoes that you won't need to remove when you've jumped off the bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Giro Jacket II Flat MTB Shoe
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
Officially, the Jacket II is classed as a mountain bike shoe, although it also makes for an effective everyday commuting and leisure shoe.
Giro says: "The Jacket II is the daily driver of our footwear line, at home on the pump track, the shop floor and over doubles on the trail - or at the pub. To cover this much ground with a single pair of shoes you have to get the balance of right durability and performance where it counts, with style throughout. We get it. Thats why it's constructed with a reinforced, water-resistant microfibre upper matched to a Vibram® Ecostep rubber outsole for comfort, durability and sure grip on the pedals."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Water resistant, breathable microfibre upper
Laced closure with lace keeper
Tubular laces for durability and knot-holding
Toe and heel reinforcements
Vibram Ecostep rubber outsole engineered for flat pedals
Optimised EVA midsole
Die-cut EVA foam cushioned footbed
I've been very impressed with the overall construction of the Jacket II. Try as I might, I can't find anything to criticise with the build.
These are not like typically stiff road cycling shoes and don't offer quite the same levels of performance. However, they're still far better than non-cycling shoes.
Despite good use, I can't see any signs of wear. That said, the outsole tread isn't super-deep, so that might have a limited lifespan if worn extensively off the bike.
Perfectly snug but not tight.
These are chunky shoes, and they feel chunky when worn.
I'm willing to suggest that you won't find comfier cycling shoes.
Compared to similar flat shoes made by big-name brands, the £89.99 asking price is about par for the course.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine. The water-resistant upper is easy to clean if it gets a little muddy.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
While not offering ultra-efficient pedalling performance, the compromise of on and off-the-bike use may well appeal to some people.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
All-round comfort. These are really super-comfy shoes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's a question mark over grip in some situations – particularly on smooth flat pedals in wet weather.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The £84.99 Giro Rumble VRs are similar-styled albeit clip-in shoes for dry days, Shimano's GR5 is a comparable shoe for £80 or there's the GR7 for £99.99. FiveTen also makes all sorts of similar shoes but probably its most similar model – the Freerider shoe – starts at £84.95. In this context, the Jacket II's £89.99 RRP is about par for the course.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
For people who want a shoe that will work both on and off the bike, the Jacket II is a great option. True, it doesn't provide the optimised pedalling performance of other dedicated cycling shoes, but then, anybody considering a flat, non-cleated shoe should probably expect that!
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure