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The dhb Aeron Lab Carbon Road Shoe Dials have the potential to be the most comfortable cycling shoes you'll ever wear. They're easy to get on and off thanks to the Atop dial closure system, which also makes for simple adjustment on the fly; they're pretty stiff thanks to the race-spec carbon sole; and the integrated heel system offers loads of support. They're keenly priced against similar competition, too. However, I experienced fitment issues during testing which meant that, ultimately, I didn't get on with them – but you might have no issues.
When I first I slipped on dhb's flagship road cycling shoes, I thought my feet were in for a good time. They feel extremely comfortable – similar to my slightly old but faithful Shimano RP9s (now my winter shoes) and my summer shoes, a pair of Rapha Pro Teams – but so much more plush than either of those.
I think a lot of that comfort comes down to the combination of the curved and well-cushioned tongue and the integrated heel system, which features a surprising amount of cushioning for the achilles. They make your feet feel incredibly snug and secure but without any of the discomfort that can come with less-cushioned shoes.
As I said above, I did experience some issues – the tongue on the left shoe was interfering with the pointy bit of bone at the bottom of my femur while pedalling. I'll go into detail a bit later in the review, but I just want to make it clear this might not be an issue for anyone else. I had no problems with the right shoe.
Though these are (mostly) very comfortable, it's slightly disconcerting because they're also A-grade performing shoes. While your feet might be telling you that you can waft along in comfort, what these shoes really want you to do is mash the pedals. The stiff soles ensure you're not wasting any effort; dhb doesn't specify a stiffness rating, but if I were to judge it on a 0-10 index, with 10 being stiffest, I'd say it's around an 8. With the integrated heel system as well, which features anti-slip fabric, your feet really feel like they're being properly supported when you're putting in the effort.
The insoles are very comfortable, and there's some arch support, though it's not as pronounced as I'd like for my very high arches. That said, I didn't notice any discomfort while riding. dhb doesn't include any different inserts, though you can buy these separately if it's an issue.
On the underside, the carbon soles have a neat-looking matt finish thanks to a gel coating applied to the carbon fibre.
There are three vents and a decent rubber heel for walking, but the rubber at the front is quite thin compared with my other shoes, and I wouldn't want to do too much walking in them.
The three-bolt cleat fitting arrangement is slightly further forward than on either of my current shoes, which prevented me from getting my SPD-SL cleats as far back as I wanted.
The upper material is all one piece, which not only looks good, but dhb says its aerodynamic too. This might be down to its golf-ball-like dimpled surface, or simply because it doesn't have any seams to disturb airflow. Or, it could just be marketing talk – there's no data to back this up.
There doesn't seem to be any kind of ventilation system around the top, though you do get several vents at the bottom of the feet: two at the front to potentially draw air in as you move your foot up and down, and one larger one in the middle of the foot to exhaust any built-up air.
At a glance, this might seem like you're going to get rather sweaty feet compared with shoes that feature lots of perforations on the upper, but even on warmer days in the 20s, my feet stayed pretty cool. So, either the upper material is more breathable than it looks, or the underside venting is doing a really good job.
Though they may not be best suited to hot weather, the minimal ventilation could be a good thing in cool spring or autumn weather.
As is the trend with many of the more premium cycling shoe offerings, the dhbs feature a dial system for tightening and loosening the shoe. While many feature the Boa system, it's Atop dials here – as found in the Le Col Pro Carbon Cycling shoes.
They're simple to use, and easy to adjust while you ride if you start getting any discomfort en route. The inclusion of two dials, top and bottom, means you can adjust either depending on where the pressure points might be.
I did experience some numbness in the toe area of my right foot on some rides, but slightly loosening the lower dial relieved it. My cleat position being slightly further forward than I'm used to could have been a factor here.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, what I didn't have quite as much luck with was a painful pressure point around what I think is the bottom of my left tibia. I believe this was caused by the somewhat substantial tongue digging in when the shoe was tightened. This occurred after only about 10 miles on the very first ride, a 50-miler. I thought it might just have been a case of needing to break them in, but it continued for hundreds of miles later.
I tried loosening the upper dial a small amount but found that unless it was fully loosened, which then made the shoe a little wobbly, it would cause me a lot of discomfort. I must emphasise that this is something very personal to me – something about my physiology – and it only happened on the left shoe, the right was super-comfy. It isn't something I've experienced with any other cycling shoes, though, so if you do buy these it might be worth trying them on a static bike before you commit. Wiggle is excellent when it comes to returns, after all.
dhb says these shoes run true to size, but I'm normally a UK 11 or Euro 46 and the UK 10 or Euro 45 was perfect for me. As I mentioned earlier, they're narrow, but not overly so, and the material feels as if there's scope to stretch with wider feet.
Compared with other brands that feature a dial lacing system, dhb's premium offering sits towards the lower end of the price range. They're much cheaper than the likes of the £320 Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (RC902) SPD-SL Shoes or the £375 Specialized S-Works Ares.
They're also less expensive than Rapha's slightly more affordable (£260) Pro Team Shoes and Le Col's Pro Carbon Cycling Shoes at £250, though they're undercut very slightly by Mavic's Cosmic Elite SLs at £155.
Iif you don't suffer the (personal) issues I had with these shoes, they're very good – my right foot was very comfortable. They look great, perform very well and are reasonably priced against much more expensive competitors. Wiggle has a solid returns policy, so you can try before committing – and I'd urge you to give them a go.
Potentially very comfy, with good stiffness levels and an easy-to-use dial system, at a good price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Aeron Lab Carbon Road Shoe Dial
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
dhb says, "Complete your race-ready outfit with the dhb Aeron Lab Carbon Road Shoe. Exceptionally supple and supportive, this lightweight racing slipper is finished in a one-piece aerodynamic upper, ready for you to unleash the fastest version of yourself."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
One-piece aerodynamic upper
Incredibly stiff carbon sole
ATOP dial closure system
Anti-slip heel fabric
Three-bolt cleat fitting (cleats not supplied)
Aeron Lab detailing
Cycle Shoe Type: Three Bolt
Cycle Shoe Closing: Dial
One-piece construction is very neat and it looks well put together. The only minor is a slightly loose area of the upper fabric, though this may well be there to cater for wider feet.
Capable shoe – potentially very comfortable with a stiff sole, though I had some fitment issues.
Pretty good, although a small area of the toe melted after hitting the asphalt during a ride.
They feel a little chunkier overall than some. Comfortable under foot and great cushioning around the achilles. There was a small hotspot on the lower area of the right foot which led to some numbness, though loosening the lower dial helped. A bigger issue, with my feet, was a painful hotspot right around the bottom of the left tibia, caused by the tongue digging into this area when riding. It was eased by completely loosening the upper dial, but this left the shoe a bit loose overall.
Also, I found the cleat holes to be slightly further forward than my other cycling shoes, which meant I couldn't quite get the cleat position I wanted.
Wiggle recommends choosing a size smaller than you would normally with cycling shoes. Foot width is somewhere between narrow and normal.
Not the lightest, but pretty good for the price.
Potentially very comfortable shoes for all-day use. Not for me, but they'll be great for many other people.
They offer a good level of spec compared to more exotic competition that can cost a lot more.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
In white, these are very susceptible to grime, but they are easy to wash with a soapy rag – the dirt comes off easily. A couple of oily marks didn't quite come out fully, though that's to be expected with any shoe.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Not well suited to my feet, but otherwise very competent shoes that offer good performance with the potential for all-day comfort on the bike. Atop dials are really easy to adjust on the fly too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great performance for the price.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Some fitment issues.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Compared with many others that feature a dial lacing system, they sit somewhere in the lower portion of the price range. They're much cheaper than the Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (RC902) SPD-SL Shoes or the Specialized S-Works Ares shoes. They're less expensive than Rapha's slightly more affordable Pro Team Shoes and Le Col's Pro Carbon Cycling Shoes, but the Mavic Cosmic Elite SLs are a little cheaper.
Did you enjoy using the product? Too much discomfort for me.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – though I'd get them to try them on a static bike first.
Use this box to explain your overall score
If I could take the minor issues I had with the shoes out of the equation, these could easily be an 8 or 9. They have the potential to be very comfortable, they look great and perform very well. And they are reasonably priced against much more expensive competitors.
About the tester
I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom build My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,