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Mavic Huez Shoe Review: Basically Barefoot
SONY DSC Most of the boxes that arrive with modern cycling gear make the UPS and FEDex guys laugh as they walk to the door with what they’re sure is just another big empty box that the bike guy on the corner has overpaid the insurance on. This time though, it was my turn to shake the package, to make sure there was something inside.

I have lots of shoes around here and none of em are heavy (or cheap)… A couple of top line custom kicks from D2, the old pair of Sidis, a set of Kangaroo skinned Lakes, they’re all very nice and they’re also what most normal people spending between $400 and a grand on shoes will consider to be light. But holding the latest box from Mavic had me certain that it contained nothing more than a few extra rim strips or maybe new inner tubes to try. No way this is the shoes I’m supposed to get I thought… But poof. The new Huez were here.

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You may be familiar with the first editions of Mavic’s superlight kicks, but the latest version has a host of refinements. The 2013 Huez still place a high priority on low weight, but the shoe is a more functional, durable unit on the whole, while actually dropping a couple more grams.

The size 41 kicks that landed tip the scale at 183 grams per foot.

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But the structure itself has actually gained support and added ventilation in the process (and this despite the old version’s already class leading weight and fantastic ventilation).

The new last (the boot/fabric upper part) introduces carbon fabric in combination with a 1mm thick (or thin…) synthetic. Mavic (and several other brands) stick to synthetics because they’re simply a better cycling shoe material when all things are considered, than animal skins.

The biggie is that the synthetics used by top brands like Mavic, Sidi, Northwave, Vittoria don’t stretch and shrink like skins. Even top line Kangaroo will give and needs a backer, despite being a far better skin in most respects than leather. The synthetics are generally speaking more durable, less susceptible to UV / water damage, require less maintenance…

The combination of carbon and the synth material bumps up the strength enough that a redesign of the pattern for the upper was possible. This new design spreads the pulling load over a wider area and because the materials are stronger, less material is required, allowing for additional venting along the side and cut into the main / top strap section.

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The carbon fabric is first bonded to the synthetic and that would be all that is required in general terms. Mavic added the edge seam/stitch as a pliable but secure precaution against the two materials coming apart.

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The open mesh material is a polyamide. It’s semisoft and moves a bit with your foot but has almost no stretch and is reinforced directionally, so it’s laid directionally where it makes the most sense.

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While the stretch resistance makes for a very secure feeling last, by far the most notable thing on the road is ventilation that is simply head and shoulders above any other shoe that comes to mind.

Usually I stick a macro-lens into a shoe, walk outside into the Arizona sun and take a picture of the light coming into the shoe through the little holes or small mesh panels.

That method didn’t work with the Huez because so much sunlight came through that the glare made the pictures worthless.

It’s easy to note how much mesh there is just sitting in normal light…

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But turn off the room light, drop in a small LED brake light and bang…

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The general rule with most shoes is that whatever light you see means air circulation. The Huez kinda ruins that rule with the use of materials that are more translucent than most other shoes. But the net effect feels like the rule still applies.

There is so much mesh and the mesh is so completely air permeable that the net effect is ventilation on par with a pair of flip-flop sandals.

In fact it may be better because there are no flip flops that I’m aware of that also have sizable ventilation in the soles like the Huez do…

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Sole venting is a feature that several companies have taken a swing at to variable degrees of success (or more honestly, degrees of failure). Usually the holes are simply too small to be effective with the midsole materials or insoles blocking damn near all of the venting (and or the holes are not really open to the inside at all).

The sole vents on the Huez function well enough that even with an aftermarket insole you’re still getting active air movement as you unload the foot bed on your pedal up-stroke. With the stock foot beds, the venting is so good that in cold weather the bottom of your foot gets painfully cold unless your shoe cover completely lines the sole plate (though in genuinely cold weather your foot will already be numb in these shoes because there is virtually no insulation / heat holding material except the teeny bit of padding around the heel cup).

The top and bottom combine for something that feels like active cooling versus most shoes’ passive venting.

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I mention aftermarket foot beds because the insole in the Huez is very nearly as supportive as a folded sheet of paper (the molded met pad section that looks like a raised cushion is hollow and flattens out to offer no support at all).

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While Mavic’s other shoes have more substantial insoles (the Ergo Fit 3d carbon in their Zxellium for instance is a KickAss insert) the Huez insole is down to meeting a weight spec. Unless your foot is a dead match with the sole plate of the Huez, you’ll need aftermarket beds… (quick hint though, DO NOT punch venting holes in your aftermarket beds until summer).

The sole plate for the new version Huez is carbon like the last version.

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But it’s been redesigned for the better ventilation noted above and lighter weight, but with no rigidity loss.

The in-molded sole venting is easy to spot above.

The rigidity was maintained through a change in carbon layup / molding tech (they use a very good quality Mitsubishi Rayon Co carbon that has a combined weight for resin and carbon of just 166.7 grams per square meter). And stiffness was also maintained by adding groves to the soles (down the sides of the vent opening).

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The sole groves add directional stiffness front to back on the shoe.

For an example, take a plain, flat piece of notebook paper. Hold it at the end and wave it around and it bends and flops around freely in all directions. But fold that paper a few times length wise and you’ve added stiffness and structure in the direction of the folds… The groves in the sole act like that.

Out back, the heel cup also gets a carbon structure bump.

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This is a fairly simple design, but it’s also plenty effective. The carbon is molded in such a way that it acts as a bit of a clamp for your heel and it’s notably secure without actually pinching. As it’s carbon, it’s also likely to hold its shape and strength very well over time.

The rest of the upper is secured through bit of simple Velcro used in a pretty cleaver way.

It’s essentially a 3-strap type system.

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But the front two closures are cord synched connections rather than traditional straps.

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The Velcro portion of the top strap is pretty short and sits on the lateral (outside) side, like most shoes…

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It’s the inside (medial) portion of the closure/ top strap that is actually the greatest portion of the shoe’s upper force-resisting structure as it takes what I would guess is three quarters of the total load on your pedal upstroke.

The bulk of the force travels up and over your foot via this top strap, secured by that lateral velcro.

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It’s this top strap design that is at once extremely effective and also one of two fitting considerations with the Huez (the other is width, as these fit like a wide “c” narrow “d” width shoe).

Perhaps the one design change that I would make (and it might not be doable without adding grams or more material) would have been to notch the strap / last in a couple of places to allow the top strap some freedom of adjustment to rest a bit flatter on some foot shapes. It might be good to cut a couple of relief notches where the red v’s are to free up the strap a little.

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It’s not a big deal for me. The shoes have worked well and they’ll fit a lot of people with normal foot and ankle anatomy. But some will find that no adjustment in the top strap will rub right at their extensor longus and anterior Tib tendons (where the little green “X” is…).

One other minor detail for fashion sensitive folks might be with how sheer the mesh is… You can see my finger pretty clearly inside…

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You’ll actually see your sock colors pretty clearly through the skin.

On The Road
For someone finding themselves pedaling regularly in 80-100+ temps, these are a heck of an option.

They’re also a weight weenie’s best friend.

And the total structure is very solid despite the venting and weight.

As I mentioned at the start, when I put these on for the first time I almost didn’t want to stand up for fear of anything this light simply cracking under my massive 150 pounds… It feels like you have a couple of super thin pieces of balsawood taped to your feet and it might scare most normal people.

I walked over to my bike as if on egg shells and clipped in (locked onto a trainer for a cleat adjusting session) and was afraid to put any force into the pedal stroke because nothing this open and airy could possibly take a thrashing without coming apart… But after a couple of cleat tweaks, I settled in for an interval session.

Sitting on a trainer (even a Rock and Roll…) is relatively devoid of mental stimulus versus the outdoors. It’s that lack of other stimulation / noise that magnifies all of your senses (especially the pain and suffering) and it was at this point I realized that the Huez were very stable and secure. Hammering away, standing and stressing the crap out of them is the same non-issue it is with loads of top line shoes.

Go outdoors, in the heat and on the road and it’s the same thing. The Huez is minimalist by design and in focus, but there’s no performance downside with the shoe uppers or sole plate holding you back from going for it.

This isn’t a zero-flex platform and the plate does have some give, but I think because of the minimalist design, a perfectly stiff sole would be a down side in comfort given that there’s no padding at all in the uppers. Your feet naturally change shape and move a bit under load and the soles allow a bit of that.

The plate is plenty stiff enough that I never felt my cleat attachment or moved enough to create any hot spots. But there’s just enough flex behind the forefoot (and cleat base) that it allows for some natural movement.

As for the walking on egg shells, a slip down a set of steps took care of that.

I landed as hard on my feet in these as if I had jumped off 3 steps onto concrete on purpose. Other than nearly crapping my cham, and as I was lucky enough to land squarely on the cleat covers, there was no damage, no cracking sound, nada. Walking was a zero stress thing from that moment on.

Back safely on the bike, the thing that keeps coming to mind is the ventilation. Spring mornings in Phoenix still have a bit of a chill (relative to AZ, 60 is chilly) and I can’t get over how incredibly well these shoes breathe… As the temps kick up, my feet feel like computer fans are mounted inside the Huez.

Up until now, good venting shoes were judged by how much (or little) heat could manage to escape/ exhaust and how wet my socks stayed.

The Huez shift my mind set from trying to feel how much heat might be escaping to trying to determine wind MPH actively blowing on my feet. I have probably 8 pair of high end road shoes in the house right now and I don’t have another shoe to reasonably compare these with.

The Mavic Huez are a very good performance shoe.
We covered the sole stiffness and venting pretty well…

The weight is also notable and for those special folks that can feel added or subtracted crank or pedal weight, you’ll note these for the grams shed… The pair of Huez’s likely weigh less than a single shoe that you’ve owned in the past.

While the Huez’ materials are reasonably supple, there is no stretching these out or breaking them in for wider feet. And there’s no padding. That may be acceptable for custom shoes crafted to your exact specs, but you’re going to want to make sure that the Huez match your foot shape.

If they’re a fit, they’re damn near like wearing nothing at all.

Nothing at all will cost you @ $425, but the other shoes in this weight area are pretty frequently custom shoes costing a whole heck of a lot more..

If you’re hunting more main stream kicks with padding, more stiffness and still very good (if not mind / toe numbing cooling) you can see Mavic’s full line of kicks at Mavic’s Road Shoe Page…

Thanks for looking,
Charles Manantan




Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations. Send your comments to: manager@pezcyclingnews.com

 

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