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Louis Garneau quietly made one of the best shoes of the year. The Course Air Lite II shoes even won a Eurobike award, yet in the shadow of bigger competition, this pair of shoes has largely flown under the radar. Don’t let it pass you by, especially if you struggle with foot numbness.
The Course Air Lite II shoes offer room for foot expansion during your ride using a patented X-comfort zone, which is essentially an elastomer-spandex insert built into the shoe’s upper. As a result of this nifty little feature, the Course Air Lites distinguish themselves as an excellent option for racers who need some room for expansion to prevent discomfort and numbness.
As your foot swells over the course of the ride, the X-Comfort zone essentially flexes outward to allow for the extra volume. It does so without compromising the overall stability and integrity of the upper, which is one piece of high-density microfiber. In other words, you only get flex where you need it.
In fact, Garneau says the X-Comfort zone accommodates B to D+ foot widths. That’s a big range. Will they truly accommodate all those foot sizes? That’s tough to verify, but what we can say is they worked well for our generally narrow feet. Wide-footed riders will find plenty of forgiveness, but even these shoes are limited in how wide of a foot they will truly accommodate. Still, the X-Comfort Zone works as promised, so these shoes are likely to fit a wider range of feet than most shoes that make no such accommodations.
The heel cup relies on a textured liner material to keep your heel in place. It’s further reinforced by a piece of nylon that wraps around the outside of the heel, maintaining the heel cup shape and hugging the rear of your foot. It works wonderfully; we felt no heel slippage whatsoever.
Garneau wisely uses two Boa dials to snug up the shoe. Adding more Boa dials does increase weight, and it’s perhaps not as aerodynamic, but we were willing to sacrifice those losses for a much more comfortable, consistent fit around the ankle and over the forefoot. Single Boa systems have a tendency to snug up only in one part of the shoe rather than evenly throughout, but there was no such issue here.
We consider these shoes a summer staple. They’re ventilated on top of the toe, on the sides through perforations, and in the sole through mesh covering an opening in the carbon sole. You’ll get some nippy toes in cold weather, but in the heat, you’ll be thankful they’re airy.
Garneau easily nabs dark horse honors for one of the best shoes of the year. The smart design isn’t flashy, but it does exactly what it promises: It allows your foot to expand comfortably, thereby combatting discomfort and numbness. It’s competitive in terms of weight and stiffness with more expensive shoes, too. The Course Air Lite II shoes are well worth the investment for racers and big-mileage grinders.