I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I signed the delivery note for a pair of Luck mountain bike shoes.
The fact that they were simply on loan to be tested and reviewed was of little importance – possession, as they say, is nine-tenths of the law.
So, until returned, I was the owner of a black pair of Luck Avatar mountain bike shoes. And off the bat I could see they had the same DNA as the white pair of Luck Ator road shoes which I had previously reviewed.
In fact, bar the soles, they are carbon copies of the road variety.
The mountain bike shoes are similarly understated and elegant. As with its cousin, sewn into the heal area of each shoe is one tiny, gorgeous red rubber logo with the Luck name applied in white uppercase letters.
Were it not for my glasses, I’d probably not be able to read it at arm’s length without squinting. On the bike, no chance.
The vibe is “we know we are quality, we don’t have to shout it out”. I’ve always been a minimum fuss, maximum function person and this appeals to me.
The slick design puts it in a very different category to that of my personal pair, which is by an equally respected brand and which has served me remarkably well. True, they are slightly long in the tooth, but they suddenly just look old.
My initial observation of the Luck Avatar, which is the premium model outside of the custom option, was their likeness to the road shoe. If I didn’t know the difference, I would’ve sworn they were one and the same.
And that fact sums up what I most like about these shoes. Their versatility.
If both your mountain and road bikes are shod with two-bolt clipless cleat systems – as many social or touring riders tend to do – the Avatars could quite easily do double duty.
As it turned out, my first few rides were on the road and from my vantage point it looked and felt like I was wearing road shoes.
Although I could tell that the contact patch between the pedals and soles was smaller than the road variety – which is to be expected due to the cleat design – the stiffness of the carbon soles felt on a par.
I’m used to mountain bike shoes having a slightly mushy feel on a road bike as they are designed to offer a bit of give when portaging, but these felt as direct as any road shoe.
After my on-road rides I was keen to find out how they would react in their natural habitat – off-road. Getting the power down was obviously six of the one and half a dozen of the other.
I chose a twisty single-track climb strewn with loose stones and rocks to see how they would handle a bit of hiking once I lost traction. As anticipated, walking mode felt slightly less natural than my own pair due to the stiffness.
Having thought about this aspect, I was convinced that the compromise in “comfort” while walking was negligible compared to the power application advantages while riding.
After all, we spend 90 per cent of our time in the saddle.
The skin of the Luck Avatar is made of microfibre, a synthetic material the Spanish manufacturers say is thinner than a strand of silk. On the inside, the heel area has a soft leather-like finish for additional comfort.
On the outside, the microfibre looks lacquered and weatherproof. As with the road model, two neat groupings of ventilation holes have been placed on the left and two more on the right side of each shoe.
The toe has a thin layer of rubber to protect it against scratches.
The sole sports three ventilation holes, which also assist with moisture dissipation when riding in heavy rain.
Two are under the bridge of the shoe and one in front of the cleat. Each cavity is neatly covered with fine wire meshing.
The rear edge of the front hole has been raised slightly to help channel moving air into the shoe.
Luck has used the double Atop reel-knob lacing system, which I prefer to the Velcro and ratchet straps as the latter are often dislodged by protruding branches, rocks and other brush.
The shoes weigh in at 279g and come in sizes 39 to 47.
As with the road model, they had me at hello and I have already recommended them to my cycling buddies. I was won over by the elegance and versatility.
Availability: Luck shoes are available from Positive Sports Solutions in South Africa.
Price: The Luck Avatar retails for R5 499 including VAT and delivery within SA.