The best triathlon-specific shoes offer many of the same features you’d look for in a high-end cycling-specific shoe, but with some key components to make them work for triathlon racing. Garneau’s Tri X-Line II manages to do all that – you get a super-stiff shoe with lots of arch support to ensure excellent power transfer, all in a comfortable shoe that’s easy to get on and off in transition.

The best cycling shoes have really stiff soles. That’s so all of your energy, as you push down on the pedals, goes into moving you forward. You don’t want any of the power you’re exerting to be lost in cushioning. The Tri X-Lite II uses a carbon composite sole that is really stiff to ensure you’ll get the most out of each pedal stroke. That sole is ventilated, though, so you still get some airflow through the bottom of the shoe – something you’ll appreciate during hot Canadian summers and any time you are racing or training in other hot climates, while there’s also CoolMax insole for added comfort. The Tri X-Lite II also uses a “high-performance fit” with a wide, comfortable toe box, that puts your foot closer to the pedal to enhance that power transfer, too.

When you’re cycling properly, though, you don’t just push down on the pedals. You are also pulling up, pulling back and, for a short period, actually pushing your foot forward, too. So it’s critical that the upper enable you to do all that. That’s a harder thing to achieve in a tri shoe that’s designed for quick and easy access – somehow you need to design the shoe so that it will fit firmly on your foot in addition to making it easy to get on and off. Garneau has managed all that in the Tri X-Lite II thanks to a form-fitting synthetic leather upper with a double-Velcro closure system that’s quick and easy to tighten on your way out of T1 and loosen on your way into T2. A specially designed heel retention system uses a special anti-slip membrane to ensure you’ll get the most out of each pedal stroke.

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There are lots of other features in the Tri X-Lite II that make it a solid choice for triathletes: the replacable heel pad will give the shoe some extra life (it’s hard not to have the shoe drag along the ground as you’re running out of or into transition), while the special puller and main Velcro strap can be used to position the shoe so it’s easy to get into. At just 235 g it lives up to its “Lite” moniker, too.

The Tri X-Lite II retails for $240 and is available on Garneau’s website.