Named for the Lalashan Mountain Range in Northern Taiwan, Quoc‘s new Spring footwear capsule builds on their classic Grand Tourer series while introducing two new additions to the product line. Josh Weinberg and Hailey Moore have already logged some miles in the new models and offer first ride reviews of the UK-based designer-adjacent brand’s new Gran Tourer XC, Escape Off-Road, and the Lala Slide.
Inspiration for the Lalashan Collection
In an interview on the Outspoken podcast, Quoc Pham shares a story from his early childhood when he and his family fled Vietnam to Malaysia as refugees. It was the family’s third attempt to leave the country. While his young age certainly influenced his feelings around the events, Quoc chooses to describe the beauty of their three days spent at sea—memories of fishing cut-through with images of his mother diving from the boat—rather than the terrifying circumstances that spurred his family’s departure from his home country. This perspective—a commitment to witnessing beauty—has since become a distinctive characteristic in the product line of the cycling shoe company that Quoc would go on to found and give his name to.
The latest release, the Lalashan collection, arrives today 14 years after the company’s start and continues their mission to bring comfort-driven, performance footwear to riders who appreciate a finer aesthetic discernment (and, are willing to pay for it) in their cycling footwear. Lalashan translates as “giant trees” from the Atayal language and the soft tonals seen in this line-up draw inspiration from the pastel-colored fungi found in the forests that surround the Lalashan Mountains.
Below, Josh takes a look at the Gran Tourer XC and Hailey focuses on the Escape Off-Road and Lala Slide.
Gran Tourer XC – $310
Living in the valley around Phoneix, AZ, with an abundance of mountain parks and trail systems, my typical “gravel” rides often include sections of mellow to moderate singletrack and I prefer shoes that are both stiff and efficient for while I’m covering flat and fast miles, yet grippy when I encounter the dreaded hike-a-bike. Additionally, as many of my rides these days incorporate photoshoots, I want to feel confident in my shoes’ ability to climb a rocky ledge or scramble down a chossy hillside when I’m trying to get the shot. It’s also HOT here, so I need all of my shoes to be well-ventilated. I’d heard great things about Quoc’s Gran Tourer shoes since their initial launch a few years ago, and they look similar to the kinds of shoes I’ve been enjoying lately, so I was excited to receive the new Gran Tourer XC to test prior to today’s launch.
The Gran Tourer XC is Quoc’s “off-road adventure shoe,” adding a performance/race option to the existing lineup of Gran Tourer shoes, which have become a popular option with a variety of cyclists in recent years. This is Quoc’s first shoe to utilize a dual dial closure system, which the brand states make for an “entirely hotspot-free experience.” Uppers are the same attractive splashproof microfiber as other Gran Tourer models, while the midsole is a stiff carbon composite with TPU tread rather than rubber.
Included in the box, Quoc ships multiple footbeds, each with varying arch support, along with two sets of replaceable toe spikes. I tried the other footbeds but ended up sticking with the thinnest option that came with the shoes. The other cleats were much more aggressive than the set installed from Quoc and I discarded them immediately knowing I’d never use them. The extra footbeds are a nice gesture and might help some folks refine fit but if you’re looking for additional support it’s probably best to seek out an after-market structural and/or custom footbed.
As for the replaceable spikes, I’m not really the intended user and often find even the shortest spikes to cause more inconvenience than they solve – the rounded metal points are prone to slipping on rocks and hard surfaces where I mostly ride. Plus, while I like the feel of a stiff carbon sole while pedaling, it’s not great for hiking. The hard TPU outsole doesn’t help either, as it tends to slide over rocks rather than grip as a rubber sole would. However, I will point out that during a recent photo shoot in the Marin Headlands, where a record-breakingly wet winter left the coastal California trails pleasantly soggy, the cleats were clutch for maintaining traction during off-bike hillside maneuvers. I wish Quoc would also include a rubberized set of spikes for those of us so inclined. Or, at least add some tread to the toe area so the shoes would still function without spikes installed.
Fit-wise, the Gran Tourer XC fits similarly to my Specialized Recon 3.0, which I think are great for folks with medium-width feet and that don’t mind a toebox slightly on the narrow side. It’s important to order Quoc shoes based on their measuring and sizing chart because, while I’m size 43 in Recons, I needed a 44 Gran Tourer.
The synthetic microfiber upper is a very nice material resembling soft nubuck leather. Abundant perforations seem to offer adequate breathability through the microfiber, even in extreme conditions. Temps were nearing 100°F in the above image and, for the three hours I was out riding that day, I never noticed my feet getting overheated or clammy. After a few hundred miles in these shoes, I’m finding the uppers to be increasingly more comfortable and feeling “broken in.”
Not knowing many details about Quoc products prior to receiving the Gran Tourer XCs, I assumed dial closures were BOA as they are certainly visually similar. Turns out, they function differently and were developed in-house at Quoc. Where a BOA tightens with a clockwise turn and eases tension once the dial is pulled, the Quoc dial similarly spins clockwise for tension but then loosens, or unwinds, when twisted counterclockwise. Quoc claims their dials are lighter weight than competitors, come with a lifetime warranty, and they sell individual replacement parts when needed. In my relatively short testing period, I’ve actually preferred the Quoc mechanism over BOA. BOAs can occasionally become jammed in the locked position following a rock strike, but the Quoc dial’s snap-less design, in theory, seems less prone to getting stuck. They are also a little easier to operate – wires glide through lace guides smoothly and I haven’t noticed any snagging while tightening as I have with similar systems. The combination of the form-fitting upper material and dual dial lacing precision has yielded enjoyable long rides, free of talus soreness or hot spots.
While geographically and typologically I might not be the target rider for these specific shoes, Quoc’s attention to design detail and fitment is impressive. Hopefully, I have a chance to try a pair of their Gran Touer Lace or Gran Tourer II in the near future because I think the combination of the comfortable upper and grippy rubber sole would be a great match for the kind of riding I do. Or, better yet, I’d like to see a Quoc release a Gran Tourer with dual dials and rubber soles. However, if you enjoy stiffer shoes; like to ride XC, ‘cross, or gravel in plush, loamy conditions; and don’t spend too much time off your bike hiking and scrambling through the rocky desert for photo perches, I recommend checking out the Gran Tourer XC.
- Stiff midsole, yet comfortable and breathable microfiber upper
- Multiple insoles and replaceable spike options
- Proprietary repairable dual dial system offers precise fit and is easy to operate
- Expensive ($310 USD)
- Not the best if you don’t like metal toe spikes
- TPU tread is not rubber and is thus less grippy
Escape Off-Road – $200
There are a lot of cycling brands making cycling shoes but, aside from Dromarti’s classic touring shoes and Rapha’s Explore all-road lace-up, I can’t think of another company whose design has seduced me quite as much as Quoc and, specifically, the original Gran Tourer lace-up. Needless to say, I was excited to wiggle my toes around in any model they wanted to send across the Atlantic. Lucky for me, they sent along two, a pair of the Escape Off-Road and the Lala Slide.
Consisting of both a Road and Off-Road iteration, the Escape is a new addition to the Quoc line and is positioned as a shoe that makes adventure attainable through its durability, comfort, and more accessible price point. In the Off-Road that I tested, the Polyurethane upper is touted as resilient and easy-to-clean (as compared to leather), and sits atop a Glass fibre/nylon composite outsole with TPU tread. A simple twist of the single BOA-like dial (not actually BOA-branded) tensions the lacing cables that run through zigzag webbing to secure the shoe.
While I haven’t ventured out on any all-day efforts yet in the Escape shoes, I have probably logged around 100 miles while wearing them across several 1-3 hour rides. Like listening to a new album a couple times through (because, despite streaming’s proliferation, I still do that), it feels like I’ve spent enough time in them to get a real sense for what I jive with, and don’t.
I am always jealous of people who have narrow feet because, I imagine, it makes life so much easier when finding footwear. While this is likely not wholly accurate, I do personally struggle with finding comfortable fitting cycling shoes, thanks to my having a somewhat wider and square-ish toe box profile. I’ve had the most success with Rapha’s Explore shoes (though, I do lament that they start offering half-sizes at size 40; I make a 39 work but my dream size is really a 39.5) and Specialized Recons (with an added footbed to snug up some extra space; probably the most high-volume cycling shoe I’ve found).
Foot anatomy woes aside, I was optimistic when I first slipped on the Escape Off-Road, as the width profile only tapers slightly at the toe. First impressions were that they fit a little snug, especially over the top of the foot, though lengthwise they felt perfect (Quoc has a handy video guide to aid in finding your correct size in their shoes; I used it and it landed me at EU 39, on par with other brands). Although the synthetic upper material did seem to loosen up a touch after a few spins, I do think that the single-dial closure system was one unfortunate compromise made to knock the price down for the Escape collection.
While I appreciate the convenience, I’m just not a huge BOA/dial-closure fan, specifically a single dial. I’ve heard horror stories of zip-tie remedies after a snapped cable on the Tour Divide, and have personally experienced the annoyance of a creaky dial after a particularly dusty ride. And, more to the point about fit, a single dial without any kind of tension adjustment strap at the bottom of the lacing harness always makes it feel like you’re compromising the fit of your shoe. The tension I want for the bottom half of the cable system is undeniably at odds with the top half, leaving me with either numb toes, or a loose-ish shoe.
Still, it is worth noting that Quoc put in some extra effort in their dials. As I mentioned above, the dial is not BOA but rather a system that Quoc developed in-house. It is lighter, more intuitive to use (there’s no pulling up or pushing down on the dial; rather turning it forward tightens the laces and turning it backwards loosens), and importantly replaceable and covered under a lifetime warranty.
On the bike itself, I found the soles as stiff as I’d ever need them to be while running SPD cleats, and a few rides on moderate singletrack made me glad for the reinforced toe cap guard. Despite the abundant dusting of ventilation freckles, I found the shoes to be fairly average in terms of breathability—I didn’t really think about it one way or the other, in a range of conditions from 40F-80F, which I suppose means they are adequately breathable.
Off the bike, I’d also say the shoes’ walkability was serviceable, the treat pattern thoughtful, though the TPU construction itself was cause for pause. Right out of the box, I thought these seem kind of slippery. And while some wear has roughed up the tread surface, I’m not convinced that the TPU traction would hold a candle to actual rubber. In short on the walkability front: I would trust the Escape for short sections of HAB but would never choose them for, say, the Colorado Trail.
Quoc states that the Escape offers an “end to worrying about scuffs and scratches, and an accessible price tag with zero compromises on quality.” I’m not one to fuss about signs of normal wear on my shoes, but the uppers—while feeling a little less luxurious than Quoc’s microfibre used in other models—do indeed look as new as when I unwrapped them. However, I do have to push back a bit on the second half of this promise.
Quoc is positioned, in my mind, as offering boutique high-end cycling shoes so any deviation from that standard of quality automatically feels like a compromise. Because, there most certainly are reasons that the Escape costs $200 while the (above) Grand Tourer XC will set you back $310, and I don’t think all of those are superficial details. And that’s okay: think about it like going to a four-star restaurant’s less expensive sister cafe. You’re still getting a delicious meal that was curated with the same vision and intention as the spendier spot, but the chef’s have made intentional choices about how and where to make that experience available to more patrons. With the Escape, I’d imagine it’s a case of: same, same. The same design team that brought the world the Grand Tourer is behind the scenes but they’ve made deliberate choices—like the upper material and the single closure dial—that bring a bit of the boutique to a wider audience.
- More accessible price point
- Upper materials are easier to care for than leather and maintain a classy look
- Replaceable dial
- Single-dial closure doesn’t provide a fine-tuned fit
- TPU soles seem less grippy for HAB than rubber
Lala Slide – $50
Embarrassingly enough, every time I’ve said or thought about the name of these shoes over the past month I hear the Pixies singing in my head:
All I’m sayin’ pretty baby\ La la love you don’t mean maybe\ All I’m sayin’ pretty baby…
And, even though I know that those lines have nothing to do with Quoc’s first foray into the slip-on category, it’s still kind of a fitting soundtrack.
As a sandal designed for post-ride leisure, the Lala Slide mirrors “La La Love You” in its simple construction and breezy feel. Built around a textured aeration footbed, backed by anti-slip outdoor tread, and finished with soft microfibre straps, the LaLa’s invite a bit of hedonism, whether it be scooting over to your favorite post-ride cafe, or slipping them off for a sauna sesh or creek dip. I’m already looking forward to many summer post-ride afternoons letting the feet breathe in them!
Feedback/questions/experiences with other Quoc shoes? Drop ’em in the comments!