Italian cycling shoe and motorcycle boot maker, Gaerne, continues to buck the trend of outsourcing production. Turning out handmade shoes from their factory in the Veneto region of Italy has helped them to maintain their reputation for attention to detail. The G.Air, which they released less than a year ago, offers Gaerne’s trademark quality; but it wasn’t able to break the 600-gram (pair) threshold for entry into the lightweight realm that's become a necessity for shoe brands to hit for their high-end race shoe. For 2013, Gaerne enters the lightweight fold with their highest-performance shoe yet: the 560-gram G.Chrono.
The wire routing the Boa dials provide allows for even pressure across the entire top of the foot.
The G.Chrono has been literally transformed from bottom to top from the G.Air; the only holdover from the previous model being the injection-molded heel cup. Of the changes, the most notable is surely the retention system. Gone are the Velcro straps and ratcheting buckle, replaced with dual-Boa dials. The change not only sheds weight, but also dramatically streamlines the appearance of the shoe while making minute fit adjustments as simple as a twist of the dial. A couple full turns of each dial and the G.Chrono’s synthetic upper wraps itself around the contours of the foot, while pulling straight up on the Boa releases the tension. The uppers themselves offer metal-mesh covered vents on the tongue, both sides of the toe box, at the mid-foot, as well as venting cut into the plastic heel cup. An all-new full-carbon outsole is slimmed down from Gaerne’s previous high-end sole, which is the biggest aspect of the nearly 100-gram weight reduction over the G.Air. The outsole uses a three-port vent at the toe for airflow intake, which is oriented to work congruently with an exhaust vent placed behind the cleat area at the mid-foot in order to maximize air circulation through the shoe.
The G.Chrono uses a thinner, lighter sole than other Gaerne shoes, and also utilizes a venting design that improves ventilation.
We’ve been spending most of our ride time in these since May, when we got one of the first pairs of the G.Chrono on U.S. soil. So, it’s more than fair to say we’ve had enough time to give them a thorough review. We’ve been big fans of the dual-Boa dials since Specialized began using them on their S-Works shoe, and the G.Chrono is no exception. The Boa’s lacing pattern allows for a much more even tension across the entire top of your foot, rather than pressure spots that straps can sometimes cause. This allowed us to tighten them down much more than what is usually comfortable on other shoes, keeping us free from any power-wasting foot movement inside the shoe. The synthetic upper used is a big part of the snug fit since it’s one of the more supple and malleable materials we’ve worn. On the bike there was little not to like, but extra attention needs to be paid when walking with the G.Chrono since the rubber used on the replaceable heel pad and toe pad is harder than normal, making them a little more slippery than we are used to on the floors of Peet’s Coffee.
Lampre's Alessandro Petacchi has been wearing the G.Chrono at the Tour de France.
The G.Chrono is no doubt the highest performance in the Gaerne line; but even better than that, over the past few months they’ve been our first choice in the shoes we’ve pulled on when we’re going for a new KOM or for race day. They do come with a hefty price tag though. Nearly $500 puts them on the level of some of the priciest non-custom shoes on the market. Much of the expense over a pair of S-Works, Giro Factors, or Northwave Extremes goes back to their Italian manufacturing, which includes the majority of materials used for the shoe also coming from the Veneto region. Even though the G.Chrono is a 2013 shoe, it’s currently available and already racking up ProTour results with Vacansoleil’s Thomas De Gendt’s stage win and 3rd overall in the Giro d’Italia, in addition to being worn at the Tour de France by Lampre. They come in four color-way options: White/Black, White/Red, White/Blue, and Black.
Weight: 560 grams (size 43)