Liam Hallam is a Sports Science graduate and competitive cyclist who loves to travel to Europe in search of great riding.
When You're on the Bike, Contact Points are Key
When you're riding your bike, it makes great sense to focus on your contact points for a comfortable and efficient ride. Your bar tape or grips, saddle and shoe-pedal interface are vital elements in being at one with your bicycle.
For mountain biking and cyclocross racing, a comfortable pair of off-road-specific cycling shoes is essential for high performance or for simply enjoying your days in the saddle.
When searching for the right shoe, you need to establish just what you're looking for in a shoe. If you're looking for a lightweight shoe targeted towards racing, you could well consider this offering from Italian brand Diadora.
The Diadora X Vortex II Pro is a mountain-bike-specific shoe targeted primarily at racers.
Can You Justify the Cost of Expensive Cycling Shoes?
With a Recommended Retail Price of $299 or £205, It's fair to say the Diadora X Vortex Pro II cycling shoe is priced at a premium level. It's a professional racing quality shoe and therefore you're paying for advanced technology and performance-orientated features that will be missing from lower-priced shoes.
If you compare these shoes to one of the current market leaders, Sidi, you see that they are very good value for the money. Sidi's Eagle 10 shoe offers only a nylon-polycarbonate sole in comparison to the ultra-lightweight carbon fiber of the Diadora shoes.
I'd like to think I found a bargain via at half the recommended retail price at online retailer Wiggle.
Stealth Styling, or a Flash of Fluorescent Visibility?
The X Vortex II Pro comes in two different color schemes to allow you to pair to your bike or kit accordingly. As someone that uses my mountain bike and cyclocross bike on occasions for commutes, I opted for the fluorescent-yellow-accented colorway.
Featuring yellow Boa dials and accents to the front and rear of the foot, they offer the ability to be seen in low light conditions without being excessive.
One negative point is the lack of reflective features on the front and rear of the shoe to catch drivers' attention; however, these are a specific MTB race shoe and you're highly unlikely to see a car on course during an XCO event or Cyclocross World Cup.
Key Features of the Diadora X Vortex Pro II
Here's what the X Vortex Pro II brings to the fight for cyclocross and mountain bike races;
- Easily adjustable double Boa fastening mechanism with micro-adjustability
- Lightweight racing shoe
- Option to run mud studs
- Stiff carbon sole offers exceptional power transfer
- Low profile yet aggressive tread pattern great for running
- An attractive color scheme with flashes of fluorescent yellow or a stealth black option
- Non-slip textile on heals
- Optimized airflow due to ventilation as well as the Boa system removing additional fabric to cause restriction
Running in the Diadora X-Vortex Pro II Shoe
As someone that dabbles in cyclocross during the winter months, it's vital to have a shoe that's relatively comfortable for running in. And there may also be occasions during a mountain bike race when you simply need to dismount and carry the bike.
The X Vortex Pro II shoe has a stiff sole with a small amount of flex which helps when you need to run. The Duratech rubber sole is very grippy and offers sensible lugs to help gain traction as you scramble up an unrideable muddy bank.
The option for toe studs for additional grip is welcome. However, it should be standard across most race-oriented mountain bike shoes.
Personally, the only letdown with the sole is the grippers at the toes being very minimalistic and ultra-soft rubber. I expect these to wear away very quickly. This minimalist feature, however, will help mid-foot strikers when running.
Why Do You Need a Shoe You Can Run in for Cyclocross?
Liz Westwood from UK on January 12, 2020:
This is a useful and thorough review of these cycle shoes.