Quoc Gran Tourer – Review
Where better to test equipment that lays claim to being ‘weatherproof’ than in the expansive rolling, rugged, but ultimately very damp, hills of Mid Wales? Well that’s exactly what our man Ben Spurrier did with a spot of winter bike packing. The Quoc Gran Tourers are some beautiful looking pieces of footwear but did they live up to their billing?
The eponymous Quoc Pham started in 2009 with a modest range of classical styled leather shoes. Combining a simple elegant style borne of that winning combination of an education in product design, a career in fashion and a passion for cycling resulted in a winning formula and the range quickly expanded to incorporate a more robust, off road version which paired another classically styled leather upper with a rugged off road sole.
Since 2009 Quoc has continued developing and refining his product line, expanding the capabilities of the range to include more performance focussed models with carbon soles and innovative lacing configurations. The magic of course, comes in delivering all the above without ever compromising the by now, signature aesthetic.
The Gran Tourer was a first for Quoc on a number of levels. Firstly, creating an off road-capable shoe, suitable for all conditions comes with its own set of unique challenges when it comes to design and construction.
With a spin on being a gravel-led design, these shoes, along with everything sporting the ‘gravel’ tag instantly became my go-to shoes on account of their all round versatility. First of all they look great. The natural gum-coloured off-road sole wraps around the side of the upper and provides an extra element of protection around the toe box. It also results in a more robust sole which won’t get shredded when walking off road. They are also super stable and comfortable to stand in, when off the bike, which is almost unheard of from a pair of riding shoes. It is important to note at this point, that the shoes come with a pair of matching merino socks which play no small part in contributing to the overall comfort.
A traditional lace retention system is tweaked with Quoc’s signature configuration which allows the user to tailor the fit and give better support without the need to crank up the tightness of the laces.
Between the sole and the upper is a sealed, waterproof skirt which gives an additional 20mm or so of protection form water ingress, which is especially useful for walking through puddles etc, either off road or in town. The tongue is full gusseted, meaning it is joined along wither edge, like a webbed hand which gives additional protection from the water.
Temperature control comes in the way of subtle perforations across the surface of the upper. Nothing major, compared to what you might be used to on a more sporty MTB shoe, but enough to keep you cool without giving the shoes a ‘techie’ appearance. Mine have a two tone camo print which is a combination of a Vietnamese Tiger print blended with topographical maps of the UK.
The heel has reflective detailing for a touch of visibility from behind and while it is only a small detail, it is nice to know it is there.
All in all, for me it is a case of a shoe which works well on all fronts; I commute in them daily and they have stood up to the tests of the winter with ease. Their appearance is subtle enough that they could be worn with trousers and no one would notice you are in cycling shoes. And yet they somehow look enough like cycling shoes that when you are on the bike, they don’t look out of place twinned with your high tech lycra. It is effectively a shoe you can comfortably commute, train, race and tour in – and look good when you are doing it!