Crankbrothers Stamp Lace Review
Named after their lauded flat pedal, the Crankbrothers Stamp Lace is the company’s most economically priced flat pedal option in its new shoe lineup. We put quite a few rugged bikepacking and trail mountain biking miles on a pair for this full review. See more here…
Crankbrothers has been a major player in the bike industry for nearly 25 years. It all started in 1997 with the Speed Lever, a unique tire lever that telescopes to clip over the axle. However, it wasn’t really until the release of their iconic Eggbeater pedals in 2001 that Crankbrothers became something of a [bike-]household name. Since then, they’ve cultivated a far-reaching family of products that range from tools and pumps to dropper posts and wheels. And, of course, a comprehensive range of flat and clipless pedals. Given their market share in pedals, it was only a matter of time before they stepped into the shoe market. As of 2020/2021, they’ve done just that.
Their all-inclusive footwear lineup includes a flat pedal model, the Stamp, and two clipless offerings, the Mallet and Mallet E. Each model is offered in three variations: BOA, speedlace, and (standard) laces. The only difference between these options is the closure system; the rest of the design is consistent throughout each model. For our review, we tested the Stamp Lace, the simplest and least expensive model in their flat pedal shoe lineup. Read on for details and my impressions after several hundred miles of use.
The Stamp is marketed as a do-it-all, downhill, enduro, and trail shoe. It’s a casual, skate/street-styled shoe that is available in three color schemes: black with red accents, navy and gum, and black and gum. The upper is constructed from a polyurethane-coated mesh synthetic. A synthetic leather is sewn onto the quarter panels. An extra layer of rubber-like material is welded onto the toe cap and heel for added protection. The polyurethane coating is cut away on each side of the shoe to create mesh “windows” for ventilation. For added breathability, the padded tongue is constructed from perforated foam that’s encapsulated in a fine mesh. The collar of the shoe is well padded. Along the rear aspect of the collar, the mesh liner has a grid of small raised rubber “traction” dots, similar to the grippy tread on hospital socks. The eyelets are fabric loops that are sewn to the underside of the throat, leaving only the top two metal-reinforced eyelets visible on either side of the tongue. Any excess length of lace can be safely stowed in the unique mesh lace garage.
On first impression, the wide and well-designed tongue, heel cup and padding, and relatively comfy insole made this shoe super comfortable out of the box. And the lacing design, eyelet placement, and thin cord-style laces make it easy to adjust and fine-tune for fit. The lace garage and high/stiff heal make it easy to get on and off, too.
Outsole and Pedal Grip
The outsoles of the Stamp are made from MC2, Crankbrothers’ flat-specific rubber compound. When comparing it to shoes in my recent flat pedal shoes roundup, the rubber feels more supple than that of the Ion or GR7 but not as soft as the rubber used in others. The tread of the shoe doesn’t appear to be that unique compared to others, either. The lugs are average-sized and the recessed areas aren’t exceptional in terms of their depth. The pattern, however, is what makes these flats unusual. On first glance, it appeared that the pattern is arbitrary, and, like other outsoles, simply designed to create a solid surface for the pedals and recessed channels for pin engagement. And, like other shoes I used recently, these flats will work with any flat pedal. However, the tread pattern was actually optimized for Crankbrothers Stamp pedals. The angle and spacing of the lugs theoretically grip their pedals most effectively. However, I no longer have a pair of Stamps to try them with, and to be honest, Stamp pedals aren’t as grippy as my current favorite flat pedal by OneUp. So, I ran with that combo for this test.
Generally speaking, the Stamp Lace’s MC2 sole is pretty grippy on the pedals. I’ve ridden rough trails and spent a fair amount of time bikepacking on them. I’d put them somewhere mid-pack when compared to the other flat shoes that I tested in the recent roundup. For comparison, I’d say it’s not as grippy as Five Ten’s Stealth rubber compound, but it is slightly more grippy than a couple of other options in that particular roundup. They stayed on the pedals going down chunky stuff just as well as several others. However, my one complaint is that I felt like they wouldn’t really stay in the same position on the pedals when climbing. It was as if they were always raising up and drifting a little bit and require adjustment, particularly on steeper and more technical trails, or places where you might dab or change your foot position often. Would this characteristic disappear if used with their Match, the Stamp flat pedals? I kind of doubt it, but maybe. Looking at the tread, I don’t really see how there could be too much of a benefit, particularly since the OneUps are simply more tenacious when it comes to all-out grip. I could be wrong, so if anyone has any experience with this pairing, please leave a comment below.
Off the Bike and Hiking
The Stamp Lace has slightly deeper lugs located on the toe and heel of the sole to provide added traction on hike-a-bikes. While they grip flat surfaces well, they—like many of the other flatter soles—aren’t made for aggressive traction on loose or burly terrain. Even so, I was able to try them out on a few fairly rugged hike-a-bikes and they did surprisingly well. The Stamp Lace sole certainly isn’t as competent in the backcountry as that of a heavily lugged hiking shoe, but it performed better than expected, and perhaps a little better than a few of the others that I tried.
Additionally, they do an extraordinary job at keeping your foot locked into the shoe without feeling restricting. In addition to having a well-formed and padded heel cup, they also have a rubberized dot pattern on the inside of the heel. I initially thought this was somewhat gimmicky, but quickly learned that it makes a significant difference. I would even go as far as to say that these shoes minimized heel slippage better than almost any cycling-specific flat pedal shoe I’ve tried. For the record, I have fairly narrow feet and often struggle with heel slippage.
Stiffness and Flex
All in all, the soles are kind of in the bottom-middle of the pack as far as stiffness and flex are concerned. When giving them the ol’ thumb-press test in the middle of the sole, there’s a fair amount of give. And the shoe shows a generous amount of flex at the middle or ball of the foot, behind the toes. The insole/liner is also pretty minimal, but still offers a nice bit of cushioning toward the heel end of the shoe. The arch support is average when compared to the other more minimalist shoes. The overall flexibility, along with the ankle cushioning and relatively lightweight package, make this shoe great for hiking and walking around. It’s one of the more comfortable shoes I’ve tried, in fact. With a little more flex than I usually prefer, I expected the Stamp Lace to cause a little bit of foot fatigue. But over a few long days of bikepacking, that wasn’t the case. It’s a really comfortable shoe on the pedals, for the most part.
Ventilation and Weather
The Stamp Lace isn’t waterproof. However, Crankbrothers did an excellent job at balancing the right amount of weather-coated fabrics with ventilated panels and features to make a shoe that dries and vents exceptionally well and stays dry during creek crossings. In short, most of the mesh “windows” I mentioned at the beginning of this article, as well as the perforated tongue and toe area, provide a lot of breathability, while the largely PU-coated upper keeps water out. We had dozens of creek crossings on our No Business Loop scouting ride and I was quite impressed. On most of the crossings, they simply didn’t take on any water, and when they did, they dried out quickly. I’ve also been pleased with how well they stay dry in hot weather, leading me to believe they might be one of the better summer options I’ve tried.
I think I have between 400 and 500 miles on these shoes. They are holding up fairly well, aside from some pedal scarring on the outsole. That said, OneUp pedal pins are known for being a little more ferocious than others. There’s a slight tear on one of the mesh windows that came during a hike-a-bike, but it hasn’t worsened since it happened early on in the testing period. Another thing that’s worth noting is that over time, the sole has gotten increasingly flexible. This is a common occurrence with flat pedal shoes, however, and it seems to have leveled out.
- Model Tested: Crankbrothers Stamp Lace
- Size Tested: Size 9.5 US, 43 EU, 8.5 UK, 27.5 cm
- Actual Weight: 773 grams (pair)
- Place of Manufacture: Cambodia
- Price: $129.99
- Manufacturer’s Details: Crankbrothers.com
- Good lacing design, padding, and fit make them extremely comfortable and easy to dial in (and the Lace garage is a nice touch)
- Great summer shoe with excellent ventilation/breathability in a water-repellent design
- Lightweight and flexible design (and heel-grip texture) provides off-bike comfort and walkability
- Decent (downhill) pedal and hiking grip
- Pedal scarring may be slightly premature
- Soles are little too flexy after a fair amount of use
- Not as grippy as others and they tend to “drift” when climbing
My initial thoughts on the Crankbrothers Stamp Lace shoes after riding with them for a couple of weeks were very good. I even went so far as to recommend them to a couple people. From the get-go, the Stamp Lace was super comfortable with a really nice fit, and the lace system and thin cord-laces are easy to dial in and a pleasure to use. These shoes have a decent pedal grip and serve well as hiking shoes, too. However, they’re not without faults. After a few hundred miles on them, the outsoles started showing some signs of wear, both in progressively getting more flexible, and showing some significant battle scars. And the pedal grip isn’t perfect, considering their propensity to lift and wander on steep climbs. Still, I quite like them and I think Crankbrothers did a noteworthy job on their first foray into footwear. Hopefully, the next iteration makes a few minor improvements to the outsole and shank…
Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.