Garneau LG Course Air Lite Review
I’m going to start by spoiling this review with the following: the LG Course Air Lite shoes are the best road shoes I have ever worn. That’s a pretty bold statement, I know - and I’ve tried most of the major brands and models out there. So let me back up this claim with some solid evidence. First and foremost: looks. As all cyclists know, looking good on the bike is critical. When I opened the box there was an immediate wow-factor at how great the LG Course Air Lite looks. I wanted to make a statement and got them in glossy red, and they look fantastic. The hot red top section of the shoe contrasts really well with the darker vents and the ultra-stiff carbon outsole. And it doesn't hurt that it matches our Team Health Warrior p/b RK&O kit. Fast-forward to several weeks of riding in these shoes and they still look impeccable, attesting to the great quality of the materials used. There are no wrinkles, no fading and best of all the glossy smooth surface is extremely easy to clean and care for.
The second thing that piqued my interest was Garneaus choice of BOA system for their LG Course Air Lite shoes. I’ve used ratcheting dials before on my Specialized S-Works and am a big fan of them. While the Specialized version is great, the LG ones really impressed me. For starters, the BOAs are larger, making it much easier to open, close, and adjust while on the move. This is especially true when wearing gloves and / or booties, as was the case in the spring when I started testing these. Moreover, this BOA system has a “pull-and-release” mechanism that allows me to get home exhausted from my ride, grab an ice-cold beer, lie on the couch and pull my shoes right off in one swift movement. The only thing that would make the BOA system even better would be an improved ability to “micro-dial” even further but perhaps that’s just me being extra picky!
While we’re on the topic of tightening the shoes, one of the very interesting aspects of the LG Course Air Lite construction is the rear heel panel. The fabric basically flows down, making it easy for your heel to enter the shoe, but works somewhat like a fish hook barb (or anti-slip pad) providing friction against your socks and keeping your heel in place. I originally had no idea whether the shoe was engineered this way or if it was just a beneficial coincidence, but the effect was certainly noted. And it turns out that this was purposely designed by LG: “the HRS-400 reinforced cup with 2mm membrane secures the heel in place, optimizes fit, and reduces loss of power from slippage”. Genius!
Now, for those with slightly wider feet than the average population, I’m happy to report that the toe box area has plenty of space, avoiding poor circulation, pains, and blisters. And the width can be comfortably narrowed by tightening the lower BOA further. As we move to the upper section of the shoe, the tongue is stitched in place on one side, so that there’s never that unpleasant feeling of the tongue being too far left or right, especially when putting the shoes on in a rush. I’ve had shoes where after some time the tongue would always move to the side unless I over tightened the shoes, so for me, this detail is greatly welcomed!
The upper section of the shoe is tightened by a second BOA placed over the talus (fancy word for upper section of the foot). In the past, I’ve experienced pressure too low down on the foot causing not only discomfort, but a decrease in power transfer from excessive heel movement. The LG Course Air Lite seems to have nailed the location of the BOA. It’s a tad higher than the one on my Specialized S-Works which makes the shoe feel extra comfortable and snug.
Finally, these shoes come with two insoles: a blue one to keep you cool on hot days (the “Ice Fil Ergo Air Cool Stuff”) and a red one that restricts the circulation of air in colder days (the “Hot Stuff”). Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to compare and contrast the two weather conditions in the Northeast, but the concept certainly sounds interesting and I can’t wait to swap them as the season changes!
The bottom line: at $380 the LG Course AIr Lite shoes aren’t exactly cheap, but the price is in line with all other high-end racing shoes and they come with all the bells and whistles that a racer or serious recreational rider could wish for. As icing on the cake, it even comes with a fancy carrying bag!