CRONO CR1 ROAD CYCLING SHOE REVIEW
With a 48-year legacy of subcontracting shoe production out of their factory in Treviso, Italy, for some of the sport’s too-big-to-name Italian brands, the Stocco family behind the Crono brand can boast of a proven track record in the footwear industry. Over the last decade Crono’s owner, Stefano Stocco, and his brother Diego decided to use the family’s experience in Italian footwear to design cycling shoes with exceptional aesthetics while maintaining performance.
CRONO CR1 SHOE TECH
Owing to its eye-catching gold color, the rigid microfiber upper easily flaunts its Italian heritage from a distance. Closer examination reveals a Tricolore tag atop the tongue and a laser-cut Crono name on the shoe made of tiny laser-cut vents that acts as ventilation. Over 200 additional laser perforations help create airflow on either side of the shoe. Padding is added to the contact points around the ankle. A hook-and-loop-like friction element is added to the heel cup to help prevent injuries from unnecessary ankle movement. The upper is bonded by hand at the factory in Treviso to the stiffest carbon sole Crono offers.
A replaceable rubber heel is a quality touch at this price point. The sole is cut in a three-bolt pattern with two additional mesh-covered vents.
Two IP1 Boa dials secure the foot in unique patterns. The IP1s are a longtime favorite of ours due to the rubber grip and easy-to-control hexagonal shape of the dial. They can be micro-adjusted to tighten and loosen, as well as pop up to fully release tension. Each dial uses three plastic mounts to secure the shoe. A criss-cross pattern cinches the front of the foot, and a chevron pattern wraps the tongue cover over the side.
Distinctively, each pair of CR1s include two pairs of insoles. One is a standard dual-density foam insert that is soft to the touch and easy to manipulate. The other is focused on improving pedaling efficiency with an emphasis on stiffness and increased arch support.
From our first ride, we were pleased with how the wraparound Boa design creates an evenly tensioned feel from the toe box to the tongue. However, in typical Italian tradition, the CR1s are shaped for narrower feet. Each pair of the insoles respond uniquely to tension. The dual-density pad forms to the foot and is ideal for a universal fit, whereas the foot forms to the stiffer, supported sole and is ideal for improving the fit of the CR1s to narrower feet.
Our pair of 44.5 CR1s hit the scales at 564 grams, about 100 grams less than a pair of $500 Sidi Wires, and just over 100 grams more than $425 Specialized S-Works 7s. Quality-wise, the Crono CR1s are reminiscent of Sidi shoes. The rigid microfiber upper, replaceable Boa dials and heel protectors make a case that the CR1s should provide long-lasting durability.
From our initial pedal strokes, we were impressed with the stiffness of the Crono sole and even more so when we used the supportive insole. Our input to the cleat was clear and responsive. It’s a feature many shoes lack as the industry has trended towards favoring compliance rather than stiffness, as compliance is more forgiving in size selection. Our CR1s fit properly, and the stiffness was greatly appreciated.
Most of our testing consisted of warm summer days in between cool morning and evening rides. In the heat, we wished for a tad more ventilation in the toe box, but when the temperatures were below 80 degrees, our feet remained relatively sweat-free.
We had to reposition our cleats initially due to the lack of guides on the sole. Sidi, Shimano and Specialized have all adopted cleat guides on their soles, and it just makes sense to us. But, once the cleats are in position, it’s easy enough to replace them.
We also caught ourselves constantly cleaning the CR1s more than we usually do to maintain the glimmer of the golden paint job and gloss black accents. We’re not complaining, but we wouldn’t want to be seen in a dirty pair of the ultra-flashy $500 Italian footwear.
From the reactions we got on the road, we know the gold CR1s are rather flamboyant and perhaps not for everyone. However, they are also available in three subtle matte colorways—white, black and red—as well as 14 sizes, including half-sizes.
We like how well the rigid microfiber counteracts the stiff sole to hold our feet in place to maximize performance. At 564 grams, the CR1s are a center-of-the-road option for those looking for quality, performance-focused Italian footwear.