Giant's Shuttle Flat shoes may look unassuming and don't particularly sparkle off the bike, but their super-stiff sole and superb pedal-friendly comfort and performance mean that these are some of the most efficient flatties you'll find.
Beware first appearances. Initially, to me, Giant's Shuttle Flat shoes just didn't look that enticing or feel that comfy. I've tested a few flat shoes in the last year or so – such as the Giro Jacket IIs – that offer instant, almost slipper-like comfort, but these Giants are not them.
Giant says there's a 'super-cushy internal EVA midsole' but that's rather counteracted by a very stiff outer sole with next to no appreciable give, and a super-dense foam inner sole. They're a bit stiff around the collar, too. And that mainly black colourway makes them look like the things kids at school used to get told off for wearing because 'they're not proper school shoes'.
With little-to-no flex in the sole, walking isn't great. Obviously it's nowhere near as bad as clip-clopping with truly rigid carbon-soled road shoes, but in off-bike comfort terms, they feel more like practical touring shoes rather than luxuriously padded flats.
However, these are all off-the-bike issues. Once you hope aboard the saddle, the reason for all that stiffness becomes apparent. Power transfer is really, really efficient – almost no effort feels lost through unwanted sole flex.
Comfort on the bike is fantastically good, too. I had my doubts about that all-round firm construction, but there are very few complaints when pushing the pedals. I suffered no hotspots, rubbing or even slight irritation, and that's despite – or perhaps, thanks to – the Shuttles being a pretty close fit.
While they look like hefty shoes – especially with all that faux-leather black material – hidden among the darkness is a fair dose of laser-perforated air holes, so heat regulation is impressive, too. Waterproofing takes a hit in return, but you can't have everything.
One thing I would say is that you'd be best using them with pedals that feature a decent amount of pins. I initially used the Shuttles with dual-sided Shimano M424 flat/clip-in pedals and found they slipped a bit. With a proper pinned pedal, though, the connection between sole and pedal face is very secure.
The reason for this is down to the busy but shallow tread design – which, incidentally, means they're not particularly grippy for walking round in. However, with Giant's exclusive GRIPR rubber in the pedal contact area, they're very good when the bike is fitted with a suitably complementary platform.
There are a few welcome other features, too. The TPU-reinforced toe box means you won't be stubbing your pinkies anytime soon; the heel's nice and solid, too. The laces feature reflective thread. And there's a stretch mesh pocket at the top of the tongue for storing laces – one of the best answers I've encountered to the question of what to do with loose loops.
When it comes to flatties, £90 seems to be the price point du jour. Pearl Izumi's X-Alp Flows are fab all-day, on-and-off-bike shoes for £89.99, and those Giro Jacket IIs I mentioned earlier are the same price for similar, if slightly less effective all-round performance.
For £79.99 Giro also has the Gauge shoes, which offer better on-bike ability than either the X-Alp Flows or the Jacket IIs and can be fitted with SPDs. So £99.99 for the Shuttles does seem just a tad high.
That said, the Shuttles are fab flat shoes for on-the-bike efficiency and grip, as long as you're using suitably pinned flat pedals. If you're going to spend more time on your feet, and only a bit of time on the saddle, there are better options. But for riders looking for flat shoes that offer the fewest compromises to their cycling experience, these should be near the top of the list.
Fantastic flat shoes for efficient and comfortable pedalling, if not quite so impressive off the bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Giant Shuttle Flat Shoes
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
These are flat off-road shoes, really meant for mountain biking, but we reckon they'd be decent urban/commuting boots, too.
Giant says: "All terrain, all the time. Throw on your Shuttles, grab your bike and go rip some Saturday morning laps on the local singletrack. Wear them to the shop, go hit the dirt jumps after work and then get ready to meet your buddies for a cold one. The all-new Shuttle Flat shoe is designed to be as versatile and ready for anything as you are. Featuring an ultra-durable dual-density rubber cup sole with exclusive GRIPR® rubber compound in the pedal contact area and a super-cushy internal EVA midsole, the Shuttle Flat is guaranteed to become your go-to shoe."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Long-lasting, dual density rubber cup sole
Exclusive GRIPR® rubber section in the pedal contact area for extra-secure traction
TPU outer film covering with laser perforation for better foot climate and quick drying
Injection molded TPU toe guard applied with an extra heavy stitch for durable security
Reflective laces with stretch mesh lace pocket on tongue top
Hard to find fault with construction – these are very well put together.
Off the bike performance is lacking slightly – they're not super-grippy or comfy. On the bike, though, they're really good, with excellent power transfer (for flatties) and a nice secure, comfortable fit. They do need pinned pedals to get the most out of them, though.
With a reinforced toe box and heel, and sturdy rubber on the sole, they seem built to last.
I'd say they offer a snug fit, but it works a treat at keeping your foot in place.
Sizing is pretty close to perfect – perhaps just a smidgen small.
Considering they don't need cleat mounts, over 900g is fairly substantial, and noticeably heavier than other flatties I've tested.
Walking around comfort is nothing to write home about. On the bike, though, it's really very good.
At a penny shy of £100, these are at the top end of mainstream entry-level flatties. Similar models from other big brands are cheaper, such as Pearl Izumi's X-Alp Flows or the Giro Jacket IIs, both a tenner cheaper at £89.99. And for £79.99 Giro also has the Gauge shoes, which offer excellent all-round ability and can be fitted with SPDs.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Haven't tried washing them yet but they've stood up well to use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
On the bike, these are some of the best flatties I've tested. The downside is, they're not as much fun as alternatives if you spend a lot of your time on your feet.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
On the bike, excellent comfort and power transfer.
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
Use this box to explain your overall score
Although the Shuttles aren't perfect when you're on your feet, when you're riding your bike you'll probably forget all that. They're stiff, comfy and, with the right pedals, super-grippy. It's worth remembering they are cycling shoes, after all!
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, mtb, Leisure