RRP: $349

“If I was thinking about a ride that might have significant hike-a-bike, these would be worth considering for that alone.”

I’m the kind of guy who swings both ways when it comes to riding clips and flats. To be honest, I’m not really sure which one is my preference; I alternate between them both so much. Last year, I was able to review the RC Shoes Tallac Flat pedal shoe and it quickly became my favourite with its generous padding around the cuff, comfy D30 sole, and general good looks. It just ticked all the boxes and seemed to match my foot just right for all-day comfort.

So, when the new Tallac Clip shoe came along, this seemed like a home run. Same shoe, just in clip form. Right? Well, actually, no. But we’ll get to that later.

The Tallac Clip I received is the BOA version – yep, it’s got one of those twisty dials that magically does up the laces and, with a flick and a click, it pops up and everything releases. I’ve had a few of these and, aside from looking a little more space-age than lace-ups, I’ve had no problem with them. In fact, I’ve found them incredibly reliable. I really like how I can make micro-adjustments to the tension as I’m riding along. The low-friction textile TX4 BOA laces look perilously thin, but are in fact ultra tough. I’ve never had an issue with the system across a few different shoes. The Tallac has an additional Velcro strap across the lower part of the shoe as well. To be honest, I’m not really sure what the point of this is. I’d prefer the BOA laces just to go a bit further down. The shoes are quite stiff at this point, so I never really found that the Velcro strap was achieving much and, even with it undone, I didn’t feel like I lacked tension across that part of the shoe. Up top, the stealth black outer and purple inner looks great. The uppers are made from Cordura and have a nice woven look that is also durable, and has kept looking great after lots of riding. Internally, they are nicely padded – something I am particular about. I always like a shoe to feel like there is a bit more padding going on than not enough; I find that it really helps with comfort over long rides, and prevents rubbing and hot-points developing. That often comes at a small weight penalty, but it’s one I’m happy to pay. With all that said, I really liked the level of cushioning throughout the shoe and around the ankle collar area. Inside, they also have D30 technology in the insoles, which are designed to absorb impact and reduce fatigue. I really liked this feature on the flat version, so I was stoked to see it here too. On the scales they weighed in at 525gm per side.

Despite their casual looks, these shoes are stiff. On RC’s in-house stiffness scale they describe the Tallac Clip as “Level 5 Flex, found only on our Clipless offerings, is very stiff – designed for ultimate power transfer and support for hard-charging riders”. By comparison, the flat version I also tested is on their scale at Level 4. That all seemed a bit strange to me, as the flat version is a lot more flexible. On my own personal scale; if my running shoes are a 1, and carbon XC race shoes are a 5, I would rank the Tallac flats around a 2.5, and these Tallac Clips about a 4.5. All that is to say that the clip and flat version are totalling different beasts despite sharing the same name and aesthetics. More on that soon.

Underneath, these Tallac Clip’s also have a totally different tread pattern to the Tallac lace version. These are chunky – really chunky – massive hexagonal lugs cover the main portion of the sole with smaller notched hexagons on the toe and heel. It’s clear these shoes are designed to get plenty of grip if you ever have to walk in them. The midsole appears to be a similar thickness to the Tallac flat, and that is something I really liked about the flat version – it felt like a substantial and secure shoe that was a really good platform for walking around on. And yes, this proved true; walking up some greasy, wet clay uphills I was impressed with the great traction they provided. If I was thinking about a ride that might have significant hike-a-bike, these would be worth considering for that alone. I also liked the way the toe grip extended up around the front toe box, providing additional impact protection and durability to a part of the shoe that can get a bit of a battering. The toe box is super solid and offers a high level of protection.

But all that chunky grip did have a drawback. Most notable was that with my Shimano cleat in my preferred most rearward position, in the slotted cleat bed, I simply couldn’t clip into my XTR trail pedals. I can only assume the tread was simply too thick and was preventing the right amount of cleat sitting proud enough to engage the pedal mechanism. I experimented with sliding it incrementally forward, but it wasn’t until it was more or less in the middle position of the slot that I was able to get easy and consistent ‘clipping in’. This was pretty frustrating, and seems like a massive oversight as most people I know prefer to run their cleats in the rearward position – certainly the enduro-gravity oriented crowd that I think these shoes are aimed at. (NB: After googling this, I see Shimano do in fact sell cleat spacers to raise the profile of your cleat – something I’ve never needed before, and never even knew existed, but would perhaps solve the problem?)

Sadly though, as much as I wanted to love these shoes, as good as they felt on, and as much as I loved the BOA system, and as much as I loved the look, for some reason they just didn’t agree with my feet. About half an hour into a ride, the widest part of my left foot would consistently suffer pain and numbness. This was surprising as it didn’t happen with the flat version, so maybe there is something about the stiffness of these clip versions that is just ‘too much’ for my feet? Or maybe there is something about not being able to get the cleat to work in the most rearward position? I’m not sure. After the first ride I thought, ‘hmm, I’m sure this will solve itself once I’ve broken them in a bit more and they have moulded to my feet a bit more’, but even after 20-odd rides it was still the same. Possibly the Level 5 stiffness means they just won’t form to my feet that much. In the end – and to quote bad relationship break-up lines – it was a ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ kind of deal with the RC Tallac Clip. Maybe they are just fractionally narrow for me? Maybe I’ve got a weird issue with my left foot that I wasn’t aware of? Maybe I’ve discovered something and need to see a podiatrist? RC do describe these as a mid-volume shoe on their website and say you may want to consider sizing up half a size. I didn’t get the chance to do that, which would be interesting, but I’d also be nervous to feel too loose in the rest of the shoe as I really like the general fit at my normal EU44 size. I still really like the shoe in principle; I like it enough to persist with it for a bit longer – even after this review goes to print – in the hope that it does in fact mould to my foot just that little bit more. It’s clearly a high-end shoe made with premium materials, which means I would expect it to be extremely durable over the long term and I think it will be a winner for lots of people, so it’s still worth checking out. But, I would also say, if you’re just on the fence about which size to go for, going up might be the right call.

This article is taken from:NZ Mountain Biker, Issue #111

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