Quoc Gran Tourer Review: Rocks, Gravel, Dust, and Puddles
Adding to a range of distinctly high end road shoes, Quoc’s Grand Tourer aims to satisfy the needs of those who enjoy both mixed terrain riding and off-bike exploring… in style. A badly dressed Cass Gilbert beats up a pair in Europe and reports back.
It’s been a while since I’ve ridden in clipless pedals. Some time ago, I weaned myself off them for most of my riding, be it commutes, mountain biking, or bikepacking. But with a gravel bike to review this summer and autumn, I figured it was time I dig out my old SPDs and remind myself why I used to enjoy riding clipless so much.
Trying out a pair of Quoc’s Gran Tourers propelled me straight into the world of super high-end shoes, in the style of Rapha’s Explore or Giro’s Empire VR90. If you’re going to drop £219 on a pair of shoes, it’s nice to have options; as such, they’re available in various colourways, including an eyecatching pink and olive, although I’m perfectly happy with the New Green Camos that I know will muddy well. But looks only go so far. Even if the rest of my attire is a little beaten up compared to the typical Quoc buyer, I figured the least I can do is put them thoroughly through the wringer to see if they’re worth the investment. Most of these photos were taken after a good amount of use, so be sure to check out Logan’s first look at a brand new pair, as well as all the specs.
Sizing wise, my longest foot measures 27.3cm, so I went for UK9.5/EU43.5, as recommended on Quoc’s website. When I first put the Gran Tourer’s on, I wondered if I’d chosen correctly as there was a small amount of heel slippage – the soft heel is fairly slick and smooth. Then I laced them snuggly, experimenting with what Quoc call their ‘Double-Lock lace system’ and the fit was immediately better. Now that I’ve worn them for a few months, it feels as though they’ve shaped nicely around my foot and the slippage I first felt has gone away. My feet are fairly average in terms of width; I get the impression there’s enough give in the shoe to suit most foot types, as long as they’re not too wide. Ultimately, I’m happy with my sizing choice as it gives me the option of wearing them with slightly thicker socks. But if you’re on the fence or like to wear thin socks, smaller might be better.
Which leads me to how they feel during long hours in the saddle. In short, I barely notice them when riding, which when it comes to shoes, is a good thing. Sure, at the end of the day, I’m eager to take them off, and because I don’t carry a second pair of sandals or camp shoes, it means I tend to walk barefoot to air out my feet and let my toes stretch. This is not to say that they’re uncomfortable for long, multi-day rides. Rather, that performance-orientated clipless shoes are never the best for kicking around camp in.
Because when it comes down to it, these are performance shoes, even if they come complete with a carbon composite midsole that’s supple enough to be relatively practical to walk in. In fact, whilst the GTs sit somewhere between a road shoe and a mountain bike shoe, I’d say they definitely err towards the former: the build is slim and fitted, rather than a burly cross country shoe with bumpers and armour, though the material itself has proved very resistant to wear and scuffs.
I’ve ridden with them in predominantly dusty and dry conditions in Germany, Belgium, and Holland, interspersed with short hike-a-bikes, some rain, and mud. In this classic gravel riding/mixed terrain bikepacking scenario, the shoes offer plenty of grip, the lugs shed muck nicely, and the cleat is recessed enough not to be bothersome on anything but jagged rock and cobbles. Quoc’s proprietary rubber has held up really well, too.
Then, I tortured the shoes on an unusually hard ‘ride’ around the UK’s Lake District, which featured a number of multi-hour, steep, rocky hike-a-bikes. It’s here that I found the limits of the Grand Tourers, because I eventually managed to tear off one of the front lugs. Granted, this was extreme terrain for a shoe that’s ultimately designed for gravel and light off-road use. So I’m not blaming them, rather, reminding you of what they’re designed for.
Aside from this, I’ve had no issues with the construction. The seamless tops feel strong but supple. There’s no peeling back around the toe bumper to report, which is always a concern. The laces are holding up well, as long as I remember to tuck them away in the lace-tidy. The cleat is completely sealed off, there’s a waterproof membrane, and the tongue is sewn into the sides, so there’s little risk of water working its way in, at least when it comes to standard-issue puddles and stream crossing. Heavy British rain is another matter and there’s not much you can do about that. After a series of particularly wet days and a number of deep water crossings, marsh crossings, and bog trots, the shoes were especially soaked through, and I did notice that drying times were relatively slow, despite removing the sole and packing them with old newspaper.
- Model Tested Quoc Grand Tourer
- Price £219
- Sizes available UK3.5/37.5-UK12.5/46.5
- Weight 380g each
- Place of Manufacture China
- Manufacturer’s DetailsQuoc
- Very well built
- Snug and comfortable fit that improves over time
- Good weather resistance for the majority of riding
- Classic looks with a range of colour ways
- Lace system is time-consuming to adjust compared to Boa or Velcro (but comfortable)
- Price, though build and quality offset this
- Takes time to dry out fully after deluge
- Not extreme hike-a-bike friendly
Although I eventually found the limits of the Gran Tourers when it comes to gnarly, off-road bikepacking, they’re still the shoe I reach for when I ride in clipless pedals, be it for road rides, gravel outings, and even my local cross country trails. They’re that comfortable, especially now that I’ve adjusted the lacing and had some time to let them bed in.
Personally, I’d love to see a burlier version that can handle prolonged hike-a-bikes, perhaps with a set of toe spikes. But if long-distance gravel riding, dirt road bikepacking, and occasional bushwhacking are the bread and butter of your adventures, I can’t see any reason why you won’t be very happy with them as they are, if the fit works for you.
Of course, a £200+ shoe needs to last to justify its existence. Depending on your definition of the word (ie extreme hike-a-bike caveat), after a few months of hard use across a variety of conditions, I’m now confident in recommending them for multi-day bikepacking. I’ll chip in with more feedback should anything untoward happen over the next year.
With thanks to Neža Peterca for additional photos.