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The Giro Ventana Fastlace Women's shoes pair casual looks with enough stiffness to allow efficient pedalling. They offer good levels of comfort on or off the bike, making them a great option for touring, commuting or rides where walking is on the cards.
Intended as a casually styled mountain bike shoe, these will have a lot of appeal for those who like to ride with two-bolt pedals rather than road pedals, whether that be on or off-road or somewhere between the two.
In use, I've found them among the most comfortable cycling shoes I've worn, with just the right amount of space at the forefoot for toe wiggling room and walking comfort, without feeling like there's any compromise on pedalling performance from a loose fit.
The heel cup is well padded and keeps the heel nice and secure, while the Fastlace system – a single-pull design, which secures under an elastic tab to keep the excess out of harm's way – makes fastening them... well... fast and easy. The broad Velcro tab which covers over the lacing adds a bit of extra security, too.
Designed with comfort and walking in mind, these build on a trainer style with a grippy rubber compound outsole and aggressive lugs for traction. A reinforced toe and heel section offer protection if the going gets rough, making these ideal for mixed terrain rides. There's enough flex in the sole to allow for a sensible walking gait, yet they still feel good and rigid when clipped in.
The ruggedly treaded outsole makes for a fairly unobtrusive cleat positioning, but it's still tangible when walking on hard surfaces. The outsole is pretty grippy too, with little in the way of problems on slippery or wet surfaces as far as I experienced.
One little niggle was that when pulling hard, on a hilly route, the lacing loosened off just a little over the course of the ride, requiring tightening up after some time. During a couple of hours of riding over hilly terrain, it only needed to be tightened once, though, so not a serious irritation.
The build quality of the Ventanas is impressive, giving a real sense that these will last a long time. The upper is made from a rugged mesh fabric paired up with toughened sections. The fabric saw off a heavy shower or two with no problems, but it isn't designed to be a waterproof shoe, so prolonged rain would almost certainly result in soggy feet.
Price-wise, they're at the higher end of the 'budget' spectrum – a bit more expensive than Shimano's MT5 SPD shoes and Specialized's Recon 1.0s, but the same price as Bontrager's GR2s, which are more akin in terms of quality and function.
It's tricky to find a technical shoe that offers the optimum balance of on-bike performance coupled with off-bike walking ergonomics and genuine comfort, but the Giro Ventanas deliver just that in a package that's not bad value either, especially if you consider price-per-wear – with their low-key looks and excellent comfort I reckon these will fast become a go-to shoe for all but the most demanding riding.
Casual styling, excellent quality and superb comfort on and off the bike, but lacing could be more secure
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Giro Women's Ventana Fastlace Shoes
Size tested: 39
Tell us what the product is for
Intended as a mountain bike shoe, but equally suited to being a commuter, touring or gravel shoe.
Giro says, "The Ventana™ Fastlace combines elements of your favorite trail running shoes (sleek silhouette, fast on/fast off, foot hugging comfort and confidence in sketchy situations) and with the performance you need for pedaling. This shoe is built around a stout nylon shank proven on the DH World Cup circuit that powers the pedals like an XC shoe, combined with an injected EVA cushioning midsole and our exclusive Sensor® rubber outsole that inspires confidence when scrambling over rocks and logs. The fit is supple and supportive with fast, easy adjustment via the Fastlace design, while a reinforced heel and toe box offer protection from scrapes and impacts."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
One-piece Synchwire™ upper design with PU bonded mesh
Rubber reinforced heel and toe sections
High-friction Fastlace closure with cord lock and soft lace guides
Velcro® top strap to enhance heel hold
Injected EVA cushioning midsole
Sensor™ rubber compound
engineered for durability and grip
Stainless steel hardware
Designed to take 2-bolt cleats
Molded EVA footbed with medium arch support
Extremely well made with durable materials.
Performed really well, let down only slightly by lessening of tension in the Fastlace system during more demanding rides.
Early days, but superb quality materials and build.
One of the most comfortable pairs of cycling shoes I've ever worn, with an excellent shaped forefoot and secure heel.
Spot on for stated size.
Not the lightest by any stretch but not overly heavy either and it's worth bearing in mind that this is designed to be a more casual off-road shoe, rather than an aggressive race shoe.
Superbly comfortable both in terms of fit, space and shape at forefoot and cushioned heel, but also in terms of walking comfort and all-day wearability.
Towards the upper end for a shoe of this type, but worth the investment when you consider wearability and versatility.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy to care for. Wipes down very easily.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed extremely well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, fit, wear and walking comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Loosening off of lacing during more demanding rides.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
On a par with some higher end shoes of this ilk, but more expensive than others. At the premium end of the budget spectrum.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Very good versatile and extremely comfortable shoes, offering good performance. Let down very slightly by the laces slackening off a little on hilly rides.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 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,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.