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Etnies Culvert are some of the best-looking mountain bike shoes out there, but can the performance match the style?

Etnies Culvert mountain bike shoes
Best for...
Mountain biking in the winter months
Overall Score
Superb comfort for narrower feet
Gusset starts too far down the tongue

These enduro/downhill shoes have the credentials to perform well on the bike. First up these are classic lace-up skate-style shoes without a Velcro closure over the laces. This gives them a certain aesthetic vibe that we love, and the laces can be tucked safely away from the chainring in a little pocket. They’re available in a range of colours, from serene and sophisticated blacks and greys to a cheerful mustardy gold. 

The upper is made with a thick Action Nubuck/Synthetic that has so far proven to be highly durable against abrasion and general wear and tear from regular riding. This is further bolstered with a slimline heel and toe cap that doesn’t spoil the aesthetics of the shoes.

Moisture is effectively blocked by a Repel treatment, there’s no info on what this is exactly, but we think it’s a DWR, which means it will have to be re-applied to maintain effectiveness. In mildly soggy conditions the shoes perform their job of keeping feet dry, but the low-cut means that water and debris can easily find their way over the top. This is partially remedied by the gusseted tongue, but the effectiveness of this is reduced by the actual gusset starting too far down into the shoe. A mid version is available if that's your preference.

Inside, the Culvert’s hold your feet in place snugly thanks to a fairly narrow fit. Having said that, there’s loads of room for your toes to wiggle around up front, making for excellent comfort over long rides. Heel retention isn’t an issue and generally, we haven’t noticed any hotspots in the shoes where pain and blisters could develop.

Although these have a 3M Thinsulate lining for cold weather riding, we’ve ridden in them in high summer without complaint. You would have thought this would be horrendously sweaty, but most of the time it’s simply not an issue. The shoes breathe well and run at a nicely regulated temperature.

Pedalling efficiency is great thanks to a TPU moulded pedal shank in the midsole which stiffens things up significantly. The sticky Michelin compound underfoot works equally as well, gripping onto pedal pins for dear life. The shoe does taper in slightly at the midfoot, which reduces the contact area with the pedal but pedalling performance and grip from the Culvert’s is still up there with the best.

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