The last couple of months I tested the Specialized Defroster Trail mountain bike shoes during my rides in Dutch. Although the winter has been fairly mild, there were also a few ice-cold weeks, when the shoe could show it’s value. The Defroster Trail is a firm, high-closing winter shoe that keeps your feet warm and often dry.

The promise

The shoe has a Thinsulate inside, seam-sealed internal bootie construction and neoprene collar to help keep your feet warm and dry during the cold and wet winter months. The ankle collar should ensure that the heat can’t get out and rain cannot get inside the shoe. The silver-gray outside of the shoe reflects and the toes and the heel are reinforced with rubber on the outside. The sturdy sole is made of ‘slip not rubber’, which should provide grip in the mud. The shoe closes with a Boa Fit System  and is provided with a two-bolt shoe plate mount for all common bike pedals.

The review

BOA Closure System

The shoe feels solid. My toes have plenty of space, even with winter socks. Purchasing a bigger size isn’t necessary, ‘cause Specialized made the shoe a bit wider for use with thicker socks. This is also okay when you wear thinner ones, because the ankle collar fits well around your ankle and foot, so you will not slide inside the shoe.

The Boa Fit System is very user-friendly and you can easily open and close the system with your winter gloves. Cycling in winter often means cycling in the dark. The shoes are reflective, therefore you are clearly visible and this is certainly an advantage.

During my rides in the freezing cold, the shoes keep my feet warm, as promised. Of course you sweat and your feet will become damp during exercise, but even then the shoe keeps my feet warm. The material insulates well and is windproof. At first the high ankle collar seems fine, until I have to walk 500 meters. Because the shoes, and especially the collar, are very stiff, the edge irritates my heel and when I get home I have blisters on both heels. Even after they have been healed, this remains sensitive when I have to walk a bit on the shoes.

The shoe is not resistant to a heavy downpour. The hood (4600) that covers the Boa Fit System is not waterproof and on top my feet get wet. I have also tested this a couple of times in a (less heavy) rain shower, but even then my feet get wet. The neoprene make sure that my feet, despite being wet, don’t cool down. It’s annoying and doesn’t meet the outlined expectation. Apart from the top, the shoe is waterproof; puddles and mud are no problem. The ‘slip not rubber’ does its job.

Pros

  • warm
  • windproof
  • a lot of grip
  • ankle collar that prevents water from entering the shoe
  • reflective

Cons

  • not waterproof
  • stiff, causing irritation at heel

Conclusion

A warm, windproof shoe that is unfortunately not waterproof. If you want to cycle in the cold, but not in the rain, it’s a great shoe. Walk up and down the store before buying, to make sure the ankle collar does not cause irritation.  Suggested retail price € 199.90 and available at Specialized dealers.

For a suggested retail price of € 199.90 the shoes are available at Specialized dealers.

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