Through 7 months of use, the Privateer R from Giro has not let me down. With its stiff nylon outsole, grippy rubber lugs, and very comfortable upper, my experience with the shoe has been very enjoyable.
Fit: Fit varies from rider to rider, but for me these shoes took some time to break in I’d say roughly 2 weeks. I’d liken the initial fit to a Sidi, being a bit narrow with the straps not covering all the velcro. After wearing them everyday for 2 weeks, the level of comfort was impeccable. The leather-like upper fit around the bridge of my foot perfectly, and the ratchet and straps secured the shoe to my foot with no worry of coming loose. The best part as well: they haven’t stretched beyond that! If you’ve ever worn some less expensive or even some mid range cross country shoes, you’ve probably experienced the stretch beyond the point of keeping the shoe on your foot. Not with the Privateers, I have put them through their paces.
Note: You can over-tighten the ratchet strap so that you can’t easily release the strap from the ratchet, so don’t tighten it all the way down. If you do, you can shove a pocket knife in there to free your foot.
Performance: As a mid-priced cross country race shoe, I expected high performance in the pursuit of going fast on dirt. These Shoes have not disappointed; the nylon sole rivals a carbon sole in stiffness. Power transfer is immediate and effective. When you’re 6 laps into a cyclocross race or 100 meters from the top of the big climb in The Highlander, you don’t want your cycling shoes to fail you in your accelerations, and the Privateer does not!
The rubber lugs on the sole fare well when you are off the bike. Through the cyclocross season thus far, I have not slipped and fallen while running (only while still riding lol). Even through the thickest mud and biggest run-ups at Jingle Cross, my feet were firmly on the ground while running. The channel for the cleat is also wonderful at keeping rocks and mud out. It is wide and long enough so those nasty bits don’t get stuck and impede your connection to the pedal.
My one complaint about the rubber lugs is that a chunk ripped off of my left shoe. This was probably caused by scraping the sole on a rock while mountain biking. It doesn’t affect performance, but just know it could happen and it’s not that big of a deal. It just affects aesthetics, and missing a chunk of my sick orange shoes is no bueno for me.
Applications: Yes, the Privateer is indeed a racing shoe. For cross country and cyclocross, the shoe works perfectly. They allow no torsional motion and provide a stable base to lay down watts, whether you are riding the bike or running over unrideable terrain. In gravel racing and training, the efficiency is very similar to my carbon soled road shoes (but 1000% more comfortable).
I also use these as my commuting shoes for my 1 mile commute to the shop. Often I don’t wear socks on these commutes, but the shoes don’t smell as bad as others I have owned. The Privateers have Giro’s Aegis anti-microbial treatment, and according to my coworkers’ noses it works! In the summer, I even wear them on the way to go swimming and then ride back, and I haven’t had a blister while going sockless and wet.
Finally, I wore them on a long bikepacking trip as well. I was wearing them constantly for 10 hours a day over 3 days, and my feet were not crying or majorly uncomfortable.
Verdict: If you’re looking for a great pair of cycling shoes for cyclocross, cross country/trail riding, gravel riding, racing, or commuting, and don’t want to break the bank, the Giro Privateer R is an excellent choice. Rad colors, excellent fit, high performance and a 60 day fit guarantee are all factors that make this shoe a great option. You won’t be upset with these.