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British bike shoe brand Quoc has been around since 2009, dipping its toe first in the urban cycling space before transitioning to performance footwear in 2017. The company’s first gravel shoe – the Gran Tourer – followed in 2018, and was the company’s most prominent release to date.
About six months ago, Quoc released an update to that model, the aptly named Gran Tourer II, which takes aspects of its predecessor but adds a single dial closure instead of laces, with modest tweaks elsewhere.
After quite liking the original, I’ve spent several months putting Quoc’s new gravel shoe to the test.
What’s the same, and what’s different?
The Gran Tourer was a pretty well-liked shoe – marrying stealthy good looks with refined comfort and decent performance – and Quoc hasn’t deviated too far from the format. The outsole is the same, featuring a rubber compound proprietary to Quoc. It’s both grippy and forgiving underfoot, and wears well; the outsole of my original Gran Tourers still looks almost as good as new more than three years on. There’s an open tread design with big blocks toward the toe for grip, and it sheds mud quite well.
Hidden a layer deeper is an updated midsole constructed of a nylon composite. This is, Quoc says, both stiffer and more robust, and while I was personally hard-pressed to feel much of a difference, they’re still pretty sturdy underfoot. Compared to full-carbon race-shoes like the S-Works Recon they’re noticeably less direct-feeling, but as Quoc’s shoes are designed more for fuss-free adventurous exploits rather than blood-in-the-mouth efforts, a bit of extra give and improved walkability is really not a bad compromise.
There’s a minor weight compromise over a race shoe, but at 320 g per shoe they’re hardly porky (and 40 g lighter than the original laced version).
The upper is constructed of a single piece of splashproof microfibre, with a single run of stitching down the back of the heel. This upper conforms to the foot well, with a modest increase in breathability over the previous Gran Tourer courtesy of an increased number of little laser cut holes all over the front two-thirds of the shoe and tongue. The fit is more or less identical – fairly flat, not super high-volume, with a fairly shallow and non-interventionist heel cup. On the foot, they remind me a little of the Giro Empire VR90, but with a more roomy toebox.
All in all, it’s a classy-looking, fairly luxurious-feeling shoe. It’s certainly a step above what you might expect from a non-carbon shoe, which – along with Quoc’s relatively small size in the market – goes much of the way to explaining the price tag (US$265 / $360 AUD / £190 / €255).
And then there’s the dial
The most prominent update is to the closure. Rather than using the market-leading BOA system, Quoc designed their own for this shoe. That allowed them to specify a one-click dial release, which makes it quicker to get the shoes off – just turn the dial anti-clockwise and the laces are detensioned – but it’s not all upside. There’s no micro-adjust to back the tension off, so if you overtighten the dial at the start of a ride you can’t easily tweak it on the fly. A representative from Quoc said that “a future model may feature anti-clockwise step”, but that’s all hypothetical for now.
The fact that there’s just one of these dials is another polarising choice. The dial pulls in from the top first and doesn’t settle the tension of the laces evenly down the foot, meaning that it’s a frustrating balancing act between being too loose across the forefoot or midfoot, or too tight at the ankle (without an easy way to tweak it as things settle into place). A simple hack to get around this is to work your way up the foot pulling the laces tight with your hands before winding the dial in, but that’s a pretty manual solution to something that should have been overcome with the dial itself. My clear preference would be a second dial, and even then I’m not sold on Quoc’s specification.
All of which is a shame, because at first glance these struck me as a winner. They’re handsome-looking, robustly built, have an eye on function over flash, and – unlike pretty much everything else in the industry lately – have come down in price, rather than up, compared to the first Gran Tourer.
They may work for you, but for me – despite a detail-oriented design – this shoe’s dial comes close to bringing all that good work undone.
For more, visit quoc.cc.