Gimmick or Good? Scott’s new Gravel Bike Shoe [Review]

Photos: Matt Miller

I’ll be the first to say, at least in this article, that a “gravel riding shoe” is silly. There are minor differences between this shoe and the sleek and stiff XC MTB shoe I was using for gravel rides before. And in this case, I would use this Scott Gravel shoe interchangeably for XC riding. That said, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how comfortable and dialed these shoes felt straight out of the box.

The marketing does very little to define how exactly these are “gravel specific” aside from just saying it. Even the video is defunct of any real justification, and basically says, “hey this guy bought a gravel bike and needs some shoes. Good thing we made gravel shoes!” I digress though, because, I do really like these shoes.

Details

First, here are the hard deets on the Scott Gravel Tuned shoe.

  • “Gravel-specific shoe”
  • Stiffness index 8
  • Nylon carbon composite sole
  • Boa fit
  • Available in black only
  • Weight: 320g. Tested, size 41: 337g w/ cleat
  • Price: $180

Ride impressions

I had been using Shimano’s previous version of the S-Phyre MTB shoes and the Scotts had some tough shoes to fill, pun intended. But instantly after slipping into the Gravel shoes and ratcheting the Boas, I knew they were going to perform, and at a much better price.

I ordered a size 41 of the Gravel shoes and the fit is spot on. The heel cup wraps around the back of my foot like a sturdy sock. Scott has two versions of the Gravel shoe, a Tuned (tested) and a Pro with a single Boa dial. The Pro model is less expensive at $140. Fit is the first and foremost reason why it’s usually worth it to get a pair of shoes with an upper and a lower Boa dial. Shoes with only an upper Boa dial often feel like they’re trying to do too much and the pressure distribution usually seems off, whereas you can really dial it in here. Pun intended.

The top of the tongue is cut away and filled in with tendon-friendly fabric — always nice as there are shoes out there with tongues that can really dig into the top of your foot and ankle.

There’s a touch of flex through the sole, which I always appreciate even on a shoe meant for high mileage. I don’t understand why there are XC shoes in Scott’s line that are stiffer than the Gravel shoe. It seems like you’d need more flex out of an MTB shoe compared to a gravel shoe ten times out of ten, but either way, a little flex doesn’t hurt off of the bike. This makes the Gravel Tuned shoe a little more walkable.

I haven’t felt any hot spots in this shoe yet. They vent well and with the winter temperatures lately, I’m glad that the black soaks up some sun. The Gravel Tuned shoes have fended off dirt and rocks well and have maintained their matte black finish.

The cleat channel is nice and wide and I haven’t had any issues when sliding into the pedals. The toe and heels have some added firmness to fend off large pieces of gravel.

Comparing the Gravel Tuned soles to Scott’s mountain bike shoe, the Vertec Boa, the Gravel shoe has a less chunky and less elevated/thinner sole. The sole on the Gravel shoe doesn’t look quite as fancy as the woven fiber Vertec either, though both shoes are priced about the same. The Gravel shoe is rated as an 8 on the stiffness index, whereas the Vertec Boa is slightly stiffer at 9. Perhaps the biggest difference is the MTB Vertec looks more apt at digging into loose dirt and stabilizing itself, though it’s even stiffer overall than the gravel shoe. As far as I can tell, this may have been an opportunity to shave some weight since the Gravel Tuned shoe is about 60g lighter than the MTB shoe according to Scott’s website. So what matters more when you have to hike: Knobs or flex? Both use the same Sticki Rubber compound on the bottom.

Closing thoughts

If you couldn’t tell already, the Gravel Tuned shoes have treated me well. The fit is nice, they’re stiff, light, and efficient feeling, and the looks are hardly polarizing. Better yet, the price point is pretty reasonable for such a stiff and well-performing shoe.

On the flip side, there’s hardly a difference between this shoe and an XC mountain bike shoe, and those mud spike threads you get on an XC mountain bike shoe make them more versatile. A true XC MTB shoe is an easy choice since you could have one shoe that takes on everything from mountain bike trails, to cyclocross courses, and gravel riding. Unless being more aero or the few extra grams of a mountain bike shoe are a big concern. If they are, the Gravel Tuned shoe won’t let you down.

  • Price: $180.
  • Available at Scott retailers.

Party laps

  • Simple aesthetic
  • Comfortable
  • Stiff and durable
  • Decent price for the power

Pros and cons of the Scott Gravel Tuned shoe.

Dirt naps

  • Gimmicky
  • Black only
  • An XC shoe could do the job and more