Sunday, March 31, 2024

Caterpy Laces Review: Intro

Note: the Caterpy Laces were sent out for test and review to Guitar Ted Productions at no charge. I am not being paid, nor bribed, for this review and I will always strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Lace-up cycling shoes are starting to become more prevalent and especially in the gravel cycling scene. Their promise is that the uppers of the shoes will fit better against the contours of the rider's feet, causing less "hot spots", and being infinitely adjustable, they can end up being more comfortable than BOA, ratchet strap, or Velcro shoe closures for many cyclists.

However; you may have to futz around with loosening to get the shoe off, then re-tightening the shoes when putting them back on. And those lace keepers better work, or you are going to have laces flopping around, which could potentially cause issues. 

Caterpy has an idea which could be a better way to go. An alternative lace system that was first developed in Japan, Caterpy Laces can be used as a traditional lace replacement. They are an elastic lace alternative that needs not be tied nor do they need any maintenance. They can be adjusted in specific areas to either apply more pressure or less according to the wearers preferences and needs. Plus, you basically turn any lace-up shoe into a slip-on. 

There is a great explainer page on Caterpy's site (HERE). NOTICE: The Caterpy site visit will likely generate a ton of ads on your social feeds like it did mine, so be aware! Essentially each lace has "bumps" in it which you can use to pull through eyelets on your lace-up shoes to adjust the tension row-by-row on your shoes. Caterpy claims that their lacing system causes less undue pressure points and less overall fatigue due to pressure "hot spots" via their pressure mapping experiments. 

The Caterpy Laces come in three main lengths and a myriad of color choices. Price is $13.95 but Caterpy is running several specials right now so you can get a better deal from their site. (I am not affiliated with Caterpy in any way, just so you know)

Why I Am Reviewing These: I was contacted by a marketing agent who works with Caterpy about trying these in cycling shoes. That is not currently a market Caterpy engages with. Typically Caterpy is used in the running sports and casual wear categories. The agent was wondering if I'd give Caterpy Laces a try to see how they might work in cycling shoes. 

Shimano XC500 gravel shoes.
I have a pair of Shimano Limited Edition XC-500 gravel shoes with laces that I was never 100% satisfied with. Shimano lazer cut the holes for the laces instead of using true shoe eyelets, which meant that I never was able to get the laces tight where I wanted them to be tight. 

Furthermore; the laces are extra-long and the lace "garage" on the forefoot is not very secure. So there were times - especially on windy days - where I'd look down and see those day-glo yellow laces flopping in the wind. Not good. 

Subsequently these shoes got passed over for rides many times and not just for the aforementioned reasons. These were slower to get into than my strap, ratchet, or BOA shoes. So, they sat, barely used, that is, until I got these Caterpy Laces to try out.

The Standard length Caterpy Laces on the left.

Caterpy sent out two lengths for me to try out. I first put in the "Standard" 30" length Caterpy Laces but they were a bit long. Caterpy also sent me a "Short" , 20" pair which I subsequently swapped over to and which look a lot better than what I have in my image there. 

I have a very narrow foot, and especially in the forefoot area, it is hard for me to get a snug fit in a cycling shoe. The Caterpy Laces allowed me to get that front area tightened up where I really should have it. Then on top of the instep, I generally can get a cutting feeling because I am trying to fit my forefoot snugly. I can have both a snug forefoot and a loosened fit on the instep now making the shoe very comfortable. Plus I have no dangling laces to try to corral. 

Because I have two sets of Caterpy Laces, I decided to try out the other pair in my Chrome hi-tops which see a lot of commuter duty. So, I hope to bring two perspectives to this review on the Caterpy Laces.

Expectations: I expect that these laces will make the XC-500 gravel shoes something I will want to grab for rides more often. I expect to be able to get the shoes on and off again with relative ease and with no loosening or tightening of laces. On the commuter side I expect a similar slip-on shoe convenience, all-day comfort, and decent feel on the flat pedals of my commuter and utility bikes.

I'll be back after several rides with an update on this review.

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