We caught wind of the fact that Giro updated the Chamber right around Sea Otter, and got our hands, errrr feet on a set shortly thereafter. As the gravity oriented shoe was already successful in its first iteration, the updates were not massive. After all, why mess with a good thing? With input from Aaron Gwin, who runs his cleats WAY back, the new Chamber II sees a deeper cleat pocket. For the sake of reference, it goes 10mm further back than other Giro shoes. The shank – that’s the stiff, hard plastic layer that manages how much, and where a shoe flexes – saw an update for improved power transfer as well as better “walk around” attributes. In any case, we admittedly haven’t ridden the original Chamber, but here’s what we thought of it in current form.
- 510 grams (size 43)
- Whole sizes only
- 35-50 EU
- 10mm setback cleat pocket compared to standard Giro shoes
- Vibram outsole
The Chamber offers a bit more height around the cuff than the average shoe, although it wouldn’t be considered a mid-top. The padding around the ankle and in the tongue is abundant and thick. We found that it conforms to your foot quite nicely. Also, a sturdy, but low profile toe bumper wraps 180º around the front.
The laces were just about the right length so that they didn’t have too much excess, but also don’t fall short if you wear ankle braces. The strap keeps them in place while snugging the shoe up without leaving any hot spots. Leaving the laces a touch loose means you can fine tune the tension easily with the strap throughout your ride.
As mentioned prior and shown above, the cleat pocket is huge! The Vibram outsole features a rather straightforward honeycomb pattern.
Generally speaking, the Chamber II’s feel quite rugged and durable. There are solid reinforcements and lots of abrasion resistant materials used throughout.
On the trail
After a painless install of the cleats (read: no outsole trimming required) it was off to the trails. As it’s a size 10.5 US equivalent, the size 44 fit our tester like a glove. It’s unfortunate that half sizes aren’t available, but it’s worth keeping in mind that you could get creative with aftermarket insoles like Superfeet. Anyhow – the Chamber II really envelopes your whole foot with super comfy padding, making it feel very secure. We started with the cleat slammed all the way back, but as it felt a bit odd on the climbs we eventually slid it forward a bit. For what it’s worth, we tested the shoes with Look and Time pedals, both of which worked agreeably.
The first thing we noticed was just how stiff the soles are; due to its super stiff shank, the Chamber II helps you amass extra power at the pedals, by preventing unwanted flex and wasted energy. It also helps you feel very connected to the bike and in tune with the terrain. This did come at the expense of some all day comfort and walkability. Keep in mind that Giro markets this shoe as a gravity shoe, aimed at Enduro and DH. They aren’t suggesting you go out on 6 hour rides in them. On longer days, to avoid a bit of numbness we found that leaving the laces a bit less snug along with a fairly loose strap on the climbs helped. We’d snug the strap up before dropping in…
Since the sole is so stiff, hiking on super steep terrain wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but it was certainly more pleasant than doing so in a typical XC shoe. We did feel that this could have been improved with a slightly softer Vibram outsole and/or a more aggressive tread pattern, although that would come at the expense of some durability. Protection at the toe is excellent – a tough, but thin material keeps your toes safe without adding bulk. We mainly rode the Chamber II in the summer months and considering the California temps, they did fine job of dealing with heat without getting too sweaty.
Although the Chamber II is a casual looking shoe, it has racing written all over it. In our few months of riding them, they have held up impressively and delivered with an excellent fit, smart features and well chosen materials. They’re super comfortable, provided you don’t climb all day in them. For gravity minded riders, the icing on the cake will surely be the power transfer and deep cleat pocket, which makes dropping the heels and supporting your ankles that much easier/better. All in all, we’ve been quite impressed with the Chamber II.