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Giro Cylinder Shoes Review

May 22, 2020

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Giro Cylinder Shoes Review

Giro Cylinder Bike Shoes
4.75

Summary

After riding several hundred miles with Giro’s Cylinder MTB shoes, I’ve found they perform just as well as my previous two pairs of Privateers—which is to say, spectacularly, especially at their price point. 

The shoes adeptly handle everything from pavement and singletrack to gravel and beyond. Compared to the Privateers, my Cylinders provide improved circulation without reducing water resistance, with similar reinforced toe and heel sections for protection against rock strikes. 

As with the Privateers, I think the Cylinder’s most significant improvement area could be the toe screws, which quickly wear down and become unusable. I replaced them with Giro’s toe spike kit and have nothing but great things to report. Highly recommended.

  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Adjustability
  • Ease of Use
  • Price
  • Overall Value

Pros

  • BOA® L6 dial offers micro-adjustments compared to only straps and remains in place throughout your ride 
  • Footbed is stiff enough for decent power transfer while remaining flexible for hike-a-biking (no stiffness index provided by Giro) 
  • Improved breathability over Giro’s Privateer, without meaningfully reducing water resistance 
  • Toe strap retains the feel of other Giro models, and rarely needs adjustment 
  • Toe spikes deliver a fantastic upgrade 

Cons

Front-toe screws wear down quickly—I highly recommend purchasing a set of Giro’s toe spikes, which are relatively expensive for a few threaded aluminum pieces.

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About Giro Cylinder Cycling Shoes 

Released in 2017, Giro’s Cylinder bicycle shoes feature a single BOA® L6 dial that allows for 1mm adjustments when tightening, along with a macro-release function that immediately loosens and enables you to remove your feet. Below, there’s a forefoot Velcro strap for set-it-and-forget-it convenience. 

Other features found in the Cylinder shoes include an injected nylon plate for efficient power transfer, a co-molded rubber and lugged outsole for high traction and durability, a mid-foot scuff guard, toe and heel microfiber reinforcements, and die-cut EVA insole footbeds with medium arch support.  

Giro’s Cylinders are compatible with two-bolt pedal and cleat systems, including Shimano SPD, Time ATAC, and Crank Brothers, and are geared toward cyclocross and MTB riders. In addition to the standard option, these shoes are also available in an HV version for riders with wide or high-volume feet and a women’s model (no discernable difference, other than color scheme).

Giro’s standard Cylinder bike shoe (left), along with the Women’s (upper right) and High Volume (lower right) models.

My Experience with Giro’s Cylinder Bike Shoes 

After thoroughly putting two pairs of Giro’s Privateer MTB shoes (you can skip to the next section for a comparison) through the wringer and then riding thousands of miles with the Giro Cinder MIPS helmet, I’ve found that the company’s reputation for quality and durability is well-earned. 

Giro’s Cylinder shoes fresh out of the box and waiting to shred.

Giro Cylinder Adaptability & Sizing 

When it comes to bike shoes, I’m a single-pair person. I’ve found that Giro’s Privateers adeptly handled everything from road and gravel, to singletrack and hike-a-bike. As such, when it was time to upgrade, I decided to stick with the brand and ordered a pair of blue Cylinders from BikeShoes.com.

Pro Tip: In my experience, Giro’s bike shoes run a little small, so I always buy a pair that’s one-half size larger than usual.

My new Giro Cylinders, before getting dirty for the first time.

Giro Cylinder Adjustability & Comfort 

I loved my Privateer’s three Velcro straps, so I was initially nervous about the Cylinder’s BOA ratchet system. After several hundred miles, though, I can say I thoroughly enjoy the BOA’s minute adjustments, which also remain in place better than the Privateer’s staps, since they flex and stretch as I ride. 

With this said, I appreciate that Giro included a lower Velcro strap on the Cylinders for macro adjustments. In most instances, I set the strap once and don’t touch it again until I’m back on the saddle. 

Other than the BOA strap, though, I don’t feel like I’m wearing a different pair of shoes between the Privateers and Cylinders. I’ll say that the Cylinder’s front-toe section feels less dense than on my Privateers, but I haven’t had any sensitivity issues during rock strikes.

A fresh pair of Crankbrothers cleats (top), compared to wear-and-tear after several rides and hike-a-bike sessions (bottom). Note the wear on the tow screws.

Giro Cylinder Air Flow & Stiffness 

Along these same lines, the mesh behind/atop the Cylinder’s toe area noticeably improves circulation over the Privateers, but doesn’t seem to allow greater water penetration, even though I’ve taken more than one unplanned mid-stream misstep. They are not, however, waterproof.

I don’t have arch issues, but the Cylinder’s sole offers plenty of stiffness for pedaling efficiency while offering some flex when off the bike. The rubber sole also delivers excellent traction in most circumstances, although I’m anxious to see if they wear similarly to my Privateers.

Adding Toe Spikes to Your Giro Cylinders 

As with the Privateers, the Cylinder’s toe screws wear quickly, which I typically exacerbate with a healthy amount of hike-a-biking. I ordered Giro’s toe spike kit to replace the screws, and—despite the steep price—I can unequivocally tell you they’re amazing, and deliver better traction and stability off the bike, whether on pavement, gravel, dirt, or mud.

Note: Just be careful not to damage any surfaces in your house before heading out the door!

Giro’s toe spikes also offer additional catch-points if your cleat doesn’t immediately align with your pedal. 

Giro’s toe spike kit comes with everything you need to install them on your Cylinder shoes. They’re relatively expensive, but they make a huge difference in almost every aspect.

The Bottom Line About Giro’s Cylinder Cycling Shoes 

Like the Privateers, my Giro Cylinders have proven to deliver a ton of value, excellent comfort, and superb adaptability. They also improve airflow over the Privateers, and the micro-adjustments available with the BOA L6 dial allow for greater customization when it comes to fit.

If you do much hike-a-biking, I’ve found Giro’s toe spikes are an expensive—but necessary—upgrade, considering what you actually get for the money. However, they make an already stellar pair of cycling shoes even better. Highly recommended. 

Giro Cylinder vs. Privateer, Terraduro, & Savix Cycling Shoes 

Let’s take a high-level look at how the Cylinder stacks up against other popular models in the Giro lineup: 

Model Type Weight Closures Notes 
Giro Cylinder MTB (General) 315g (size 42) 1 BOA ® L6, 1 Velcro toe strap Synthetic upper, die-cut footbeds, nylon and rubber lugged co-molded outsole, toe and heel microfiber reinforcements 
Giro Privateer MTB (General) 375g (size 42.5) N-1 micro-ratcheting buckle, 2 Velcro straps Welded and stitched upper, nylon and rubber lugged co-molded outsole, EVA footbed, rubber toe-guard 
Giro Terraduro MTB (Enduro, All-Mountain) 420g (size 42.5)  N-1 micro-ratcheting buckle, 2 Velcro straps EVO fiber microfiber upper, rubber toe cap, molded EVA footbed, Vibram high-traction lugged outsole, flexible forefoot walking zone 
Giro Savix Road 310g (size 42)  1 BOA ® L6, 1 Velcro toe strap Microfiber upper, die-cut insoles, injected nylon outsole, 2-or-3-bolt cleat mount 
Giro Sector MTB (General) 342g (size 42)  2 BOA ® L6 (steel and soft lace guides) SynchWire one-piece upper, reinforced heel and toe, 3D molded footbed, carbon composite outsole 

Choosing between the models will primarily come down to the intended use (MTB vs. Road), budget, whether you prefer BOA or strap closures, and materials preferences. For example, Giro’s Sector shoes feature cutting-edge materials and construction methods, but they’re also expensive.

How does the Giro Cylinder stack up against similar MTB shoe models from other manufacturers? 

Giro Cylinder vs. Other BOA-Based MTB Shoes 

Below are several popular bike shoe models competing in the same space as Giro’s Cylinder, including those that feature BOA/strap combinations, rubber lugged outsoles, and similar price points. Here’s how their high-level criteria compare:

Model Weight  Closures Notes 
Giro Cylinder 315g (size 42) 1 BOA® L6, 1 Velcro toe strap Synthetic upper, die-cut footbeds, nylon and rubber lugged co-molded outsole, toe and heel microfiber reinforcements 
Specialized Recon 2.0 350g (size 42) 1 BOA® L6, 1 Velcro toe strap Body Geometry sole and footbed, STRIDE toe-flex technology, rubber tread, stiffness index: 6 of 15 
Bontrager XXX Mountain 331g (size 42) 2 BOA® IP1 dial TPU upper material, OCLV carbon sole, stiffness index: 14 of 14, asymmetrical design for reduced top pressure, no-slip heel lining, GnardGuard outer material 
Scott MTB Team 385g (size 42) 1 BOA® IP1 dial, 1 Velcro toe strap Nylon/glass fiber composite outsole, synthetic microfiber upper, stiffness index: 8, Sticki Rubber sole, ErgoLogic removable insole 
Fizik Terra X5 288g (size 42) 1 BOA® L6, 1 Velcro toe strap Laser Perforated Microtex upper, Injected Carbon/TPU outsole 
Shimano ME4 339g (size 42) 1 BOA® L6, 2 Velcro toe straps Synthetic leather upper, glass fiber reinforced nylon midsole, rubber outsole, stiffness index: 5, adaptable cup insole 

Taking a look at these details, we can see Fizik’s Terra X5 is meaningfully lighter than the competition, with Cylinder coming in second. Other than the fact that there’s a difference of 30g between the two, the X5 is perhaps the closest model above to the Cylinders. 

Comparatively, the Cylinder and Terra X5 feature more flexible soles than the Bontrager XXX, which delivers maximum stiffness (14/14). As such, if you enjoy frequent hike-a-biking, the XXX might not be your go-to choice. 

However, with a mid-range stiffness index of 6 and 8, respectively, the Terra X5 and Scott MTB Team shoes might work great if you find yourself frequently walking off the bike. 

Along these same lines, Shimano’s ME4 shoes feature the least stiff soles among competitors above and are also the only pair that offers a synthetic leather upper. The ME4 shoes also provide two straps, compared to the Cylinder’s one, if this appeals to you.

I briefly tested a pair of Specialized Recon 2.0s before making a final decision and found their toe was much more flexible than my Privateers. Since I frequently strike rocks during my rides, I decided to return them and explore other options, which eventually led me to the Cylinders.

Finally, Shimano’s ME4 shoes are the least stiff among competitors above. They are the only model with a synthetic leather upper and glass fiber reinforced nylon midsole if you prefer these characteristics. 

Let’s go ahead and wrap everything up in the next section. 

What’s the Bottom Line About Giro’s Cylinder Shoes? 

Based on their price-to-performance ratio, I think the Giro Cylinder MTB shoes represent a stellar value and can accommodate a broad cross-section of riding and terrain preferences.

Unless you prefer additional micro-adjustability from a second BOA dial or need to shed a few grams using higher-end materials or construction methods, Giro’s Cylinders might be challenging to beat.

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Derek has more than two decades of experience as a cyclist, and is the founder of TreadBikely. He currently travels full-time with his family via RV, enjoying the country's best biking destinations. A secular Buddhist, Derek frequently explores the intersection of cycling, mindfulness, and compassion in his writing. #rolloutblissout
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