Crankbrothers Stamp Boa Review
Cons: Mediocre grip, low-mid volume fit may not work for everyone
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Crankbrothers Stamp Boa
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|Pros||BOA system, clean looks, good hiking abilities||Excellent pedal grip, comfortable, true all-mountain performance||Tall ankle cuff with extra medial ankle padding, fantastic grip, good power transfer||Grippy soles, casual looks, reasonable price, versatility, lightweight||Impressive grip, protective, reasonable price|
|Cons||Mediocre grip, low-mid volume fit may not work for everyone||On the expensive side of the spectrum, Stealth rubber wears more quickly||Heavier weight, polarizing looks, not the most breathable||Somewhat loose fit in the forefoot||Heavier weight, limited breathability|
|Bottom Line||A clean and sleek-looking pair of shoes that offer decent grip and a lower volume fit||The benchmark for flat pedal shoes, a true all-arounder that looks as good as it performs||A shoe that blends tremendous grip with a bit of extended ankle coverage and protection||A versatile new flat pedal shoe with great grip and a casual style||A reasonably priced, versatile flat pedal shoe that offers strong performance and even stronger value|
|Rating Categories||Crankbrothers Stamp...||Five Ten Freerider Pro||Five Ten Freerider...||Specialized 2FO Roo...||Ride Concepts Livewire|
|Fit and Comfort (25%)|
|Rigidity and Power Transfer (20%)|
|Specs||Crankbrothers Stamp...||Five Ten Freerider Pro||Five Ten Freerider...||Specialized 2FO Roo...||Ride Concepts Livewire|
|Rubber Type||MC2 High-friction rubber||Stealth S1||Stealth S1||SlipNot ST||Kinetics DST6.0 High Grip|
|Tread Pattern||Match sole optimized to work with Stamp pedal||Full Dot||Full Dot||Full Hexagon Dot||Full Hexagon Dot|
|Weight per Shoe (ounces)||14.67 (size 11)||14.11 (size 11)||16.57 (size 11)||12.96 (size 43.5)||16.15 (size 11)|
|Weight per Shoe (grams)||416 (size 11)||399 (size 11)||470 (size 11)||367 (size 43.5)||458 (size 11)|
|Closure||Boa and Velcro strap||Laces||Velcro straps||Laces||Laces|
|Upper Materials||Mesh, synthetic||Synthetic Leather||Synthetic with Ortholite sockliner||Leather/textile||Synthetic/mesh|
|Midsole||EVA||EVA||Compression molded EVA||Cushioned EVA|
|Insole||AM/MT insole||Body Geometry|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Crankbrothers recently entered the mountain bike shoe market with their Stamp flat pedal shoes and Mallet clip-in shoes. Both models come in three different closure styles; Lace, Speed Lace, and BOA, at varying price points. The Stamp BOA shoes are the top-of-the-line flat pedal model, with a sleek appearance and a fancy BOA closure system (a bit of a novelty among flat pedal shoes). We found them to be relatively comfortable with good power transfer, but they never stood out from the competition, particularly when it came to their pedal grip.
Let’s get something out of the way. CrankBrothers markets these shoes as being “optimized” for use with the CrankBrothers Stamp pedals. The marketing copy goes on to say the shoes are “designed to work flawlessly with any flat pedal”. We tested these shoes with Spank Oozy and Shimano Saint pedals. While the Stamp pedals are reasonably popular, it is safe to say that far more people use other pedals on their bikes. As a result, we tested the shoes with the Spank and Shimano pedals.
CrankBrothers uses their Match MC2 rubber compound for the sole of the Stamp BOA. According to CrankBrothers, this is a high-friction material for maximum grip that also has dampening properties. We found this compound to work well-enough. Make no mistake, this rubber can’t match our favorite shoes in this review. It provides adequate grip, but can't match Five Ten's Stealth, Specialized's SlipNot, or Ride Concepts' Rubber Kinetics compounds. The Match MC2 does seem to have some vibration dampening properties, but we still felt a bit more prone to being bounced off the pedals than in some other shoes.
Examining the sole of the shoe, the majority of it is comprised of raised parallelograms that match the shape of the Stamp pedal body. These parallelograms have small channels between them approximately the depth of a pedal pin. We didn't have the chance to test the Stamp shoe and Stamp pedal combo, but it stands to reason that this tread design should engage the pins of that pedal very well. We have also read other reviews that state the Stamp shoes work best with Stamp pedals. We found the pins on our non-Stamp pedals engaged this design fairly well, particularly the smaller-diameter pins on our Spank Oozy pedals. We also found it to be relatively easy to reposition our feet on the pedals. Riders who enjoy a bit of foot mobility may actually like the less locked-in feel of the Stamp shoes with non-Stamp pedals.
Off the bike, the Stamp shoes offer a relatively good walking and hiking experience and traction. The toe of the shoe is slightly rockered and has a good amount of flex to allow for a relatively normal gait. Both the toe and heel of the sole have ramped lugs to dig into the soil. No matter how steep or loose the situation, we found these shoes to handle it quite well.
Fit and Comfort
The Stamp BOA shoes have a relatively comfortable fit with one notable quirk. We found them to have a relatively average fit, though with a tight squeeze under the ball of the foot. The BOA dial and Velcro strap are easily adjustable and keep the feet securely positioned in the shoes, and mesh panels on the sides provide decent ventilation.
The Stamp BOA have a cushioned, skate-style appearance. As a result, they have a pillowy and plush feel on the foot. There is a good amount of cushioning around the ankles and heel and down the tongue. They have an average width and length, but one obvious fit quirk is the tight fit through the ball of the foot. Even with extremely thin socks on, our tester with a very average size foot found there to be tightness/pressure under the ball of the foot. It is interesting as the rest of the fit is dialed, but they have one distinctive choke point. It was noticeable each time we put the shoes on, that said once we were on the bike, it was mostly a non-issue. This could improve a bit as the insole packs out, but remained noticeable during our entire test period.
The BOA system works very well. Aside from the clean looks, it is highly functional and intuitive. It is easy to cinch the shoes down and really fine-tune the tension. The Velcro strap across the top of the tongue does a wonderful job of locking the heel down in the shoe. Small raised gripper dots inside the heel of the shoe also help to keep it in place. We experienced no heel lift while wearing these shoes, even while hiking up steep slopes.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
The Stamp BOA shoes are just above average in terms of rigidity. They aren’t in the top of our test class in terms of stiffness, but they also aren’t flimsy and flexy. We found part of the reason that these shoes work so well off of the bike is the fact that they have a more natural flex to them. This aids the walking motion and is far more pleasant.
On the bike, the shoes are stiff enough without being overly stiff. When you get up and out of the saddle to put the power down, it feels like virtually all of your energy is transferring into the pedals. We would have no hesitation bringing these shoes along for a big, pedal-y all-day ride.
The Stamp BOA shoes, once again, slot in the middle of the pack in terms of breathability. There are mesh “windows” on each side of the shoe designed to let air pass through and escape. The toe has small perforations to allow for some additional airflow. We found the mesh windows to function as intended. The small perforations on the toe were not noticeable.
The relatively thin and heavily perforated tongue was a nice touch. This area of the shoe sees a lot of wind and generates a lot of heat. The tongue certainly promoted airflow and more importantly, dried quickly after some of our wet rides. These shoes are far from the warmest shoes we tested, but we wouldn't necessarily describe them as particularly airy either. We found they slot into the middle ground where they should work relatively well in a wide range of temperatures and conditions.
Throughout testing, we observed no signs of premature wear or material breakdown. The stitches, bonds, and materials all look nearly new other than a healthy coating of dust and some sweat droplets. Both the Velcro strap and the BOA dial and cable are still functioning perfectly. Crankbrothers even went out of their way to hide the BOA cable eyelets under the sides of the tongue for added protection. The location of the Boa dial on the side of the shoe does leave it somewhat prone to damage should you scrape your shoe on something while riding.
The BOA closure system is a bit of a polarizing topic. Some flat pedal riders have been asking for them for years, while others would rather stick with the simplicity of laces. As well as it worked on these test shoes, the system is a bit more complicated than a simple set of laces. In the past, this tester has owned shoes where the BOA dial failed. Replacement parts are available, but they can be tricky to install and it's simply a hassle. Again, the BOA system on these shoes is still functioning flawlessly. If riders are particularly concerned with maximum durability or ease of replacement, however, laces may be a better choice.
At 416-grams, the Stamp BOA shoes are in the middle of the pack in terms of weight. If we are splitting hairs, they trend towards the lighter side of our test class. When you are handling the shoe, they feel about average.
On the bike, the weight isn’t much of a story. They don’t feel like big, bruising gravity shoes or lightweight trail shoes. As a result, they work very well in a large number of situations. Long rides, enduro-y shuttles, bike park, these shoes will handle any situation.
The Stamp BOA shoes represent an average value. They deliver relatively solid performance on the trail, although they never stand out as particularly good or bad. Instead, they get things done in a business-like manner. If you already happen to own a pair of Stamp pedals, then perhaps it would make more sense since they are optimized to work together.
The CrankBrothers Stamp BOA are understated and functional flat pedal shoes. They offer clean looks and well-rounded but relatively average performance on the trail. While they don't necessarily stand out from the competition we feel they are still a good option for many riders to consider. They also come in three closure styles and price points to suit varying preferences and budgets.
— Pat Donahue
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