Gaerne shoes seem to kick about under the radar but they do so quite successfully on the feet of the likes of Petacchi, Cunego and Van Den Broeck, where admittedly their blurriness makes them hard to spot. These G.Mythos are stacked about mid-way up in the Gaerne shoe-cupboard, suitable for the enthusiastic weekend warrior that can't quite justify the £240 for their top-end racing clogs but want a little taste of that handmade Italian thing.
Out the box and fiddling with straps and cleats just to see what's what it's disappointingly apparent that they're not the best finished shoe with little wisps of leftover stitching sprouting out all over like cress and gobs of glue here and there, must be all that Prosecco provoked passion oozing out.
Fit is stereotypically Italian, that's to say, thin, narrow and tight, although the Gaernes have a little more room in the forefoot than some other Tricolore Trainers. The shoe hugs the foot softly yet firmly, al dente if you will, comfort helped by the leather one-piece front of the upper that does away with panels and related stitching so there are no seams to rub the pinkies but despite Gaerne's claims of an Air Ventilation System with innovative layer perforations guaranteeing optimal ventilation these are a warm shoe. Although the whole surface is covered with tiny holes there is little in the way of airy mesh areas, and what there are trend towards stylishly minimal slits. On a hot and sunny day toes tend to toast, which is a shame because that's exactly the weather you'd want to wear these spangly disco slippers. Looking on the positive side in our more temperate climate these could be worn comfortably on less balmy days when a bit of rotating Italian sunshine can cheer up any dreary day and more breezy shoes might demand over-somethings.
Foot retention is handled by a ratchet and a pair of Velcro straps, the 2D Micro adjustable buckle is mounted on a large and wide plastic base to spread the load and ratchets tight with the reassurance of metal, and responds well to just-one-more-click pre climb or sprint pressure. The pad on the ratchet strap with the big 'G' on wraps across a generously padded tongue and is adjustable from side to side to ensure symmetrical upper foot comfort. The twin Velcro straps up the front of the shoe are backed up with the Safety Lock Strap System, a strip of teeth underneath the straps that mesh into similar on the shoe body and they staccato satisfactorily when pulled taught and ensure that the straps don't slip or stretch even under the clumsiest crank pulling load.
Keeping the foot even further imprisoned within the shoe is the solid injection-moulded plastic anatomic heel-cup and 'U' Control Heel System. The heel area is aggressively pinched to hold the foot, such that it's a squeeze to get in but stoically secure once there, the inside of the heel is pleasantly padded and even has a grippy material lining to further keep the rear of the foot from moving around. On the outside slithers of reflective inserts are a minimalist safety feature for dusky riding.
The Evolution sole doesn't feature any fancy carbonyness which you might be bothering for at this price (the G.Mythos are available as a carbon soled variant for £50 more) but the plain jane nylon construction does it's job well enough, it's quite a thick and chunky sole to keep it flex free which helps towards the shoes somewhat lardy weight (696g for my size 41 test pair), but it's not super stiff either, it's just solid, and, er, there, lacking a certain amount of feedback and character.
The multi-coloured comfort fit insole is designed to offer maximum comfort combining natural materials with three technical inserts which supposedly adapt to the users foot shape, labelled 'Sensitive Islands' these are simply sections of memory foam stuck on the underside of the insole and don't seem to do much really - not for me anyway, the elegantly contoured sides and deep heel-cup are more useful for foot cosseting.
There's a lot to like about these G.Mythos; if you're a fan of the fast Italian racing slipper look then they're ready to shine on the start line or make you look more Gran Fondo than Sportive, the fit is certainly snug and the ratchet and strap system in conjunction with the rigid heel-cup and tight ankle are secure enough to make sure none of your effort is wasted in footloose inefficiency. The one-piece upper construction and padded insides keep things comfortable though, as long as you don't take them on holiday or ride them on the two Summer's days in the UK where the lack of ventilation makes them a sweat-shop shoe. But in exchange for all of that Italian handmade passion and thing you're missing out on carbon sole potential and gaining a bit of weight because of it, leading to the G.Mythos pedal pushers looking fleet of foot but perhaps lacking a certain spring in their step.
Italianglish aside, I'd happily trade a little less stereotypical Italian passion for a bit more value for money and performance, a carbon-sole upgrade, and another mesh vent.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Gaerne G-Mythos shoes
Size tested: 41
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?
Why Gaerne? They say because you won't find such a high-end quality cycling shoe anywhere else in the world. Made in Italy for the last 49 years by people who live and breath cycling, Gaerne Cycling Shoes are designed for a truly one of a kind fit plus optimal performance for the highest possible output.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Like all good shoes nowadays, these are laced with technical features and acronyms, the Gaernes have an Air Ventilation System, 2D Micro Adjustable Aluminium Buckle, the Adjustable Instep Closure System adapting the shoe to all foot morphologies, indeed, a Safety Lock Strap System, the innovative closure system patented by Gaerne, Comfort Fit Tongue, 'U' Control Heel System in conjunction with the all-new injection-moulded plastic anatomic Heel Cup, and finally the Fit Comfort Insole.
The actual construction of the shoes was fine, but the finishing left a lot to be desired.
Excellent slim fit and foot security systems let down by over-heating and being overly heavy.
Despite the poor quality control in the finishing room the G.Mythos are well made and look set to last a while.
That nylon sole needs to be sturdy enough to be stiff enough and it certainly makes these a weighty shoe to have to pull up 100 times a minute. Some similarily priced shoes come with a carbon sole and a 50g per foot weight saving.
With the caveat of 'if they fit you' aside I found these a supremely comfortable shoe, but then I have Italian feet. Padded where they needed to be and the one-piece front end keeping things comfy inside, but marked down a bit for their warmth on hot days when they became uncomfortable.
There definitely seems to be a Italian handmade premium on the Gaernes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good in parts, not so well in others.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The look, the fit and the ratchet and strap bindings.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The poor finishing, the lack of ventilation and the slight tubbiness.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Hmmm, maybe, I might splash the cash on the carbon soled version though, just to lose a bit of weight and get a bit of feel through the pedal.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
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: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.