Scott Tri Carbon Shoe – Review

Boa in tri shoes is not a new thing. After all, we first saw it on the Specialized S-Works Trivents. Those shoes combined Boa with a revolutionary flip-up heel. Yet, to be honest, we weren’t completely sold. Yes, getting out of the shoes is much faster with a Boa dial – simply pop it out and your foot comes out. That’s way faster than Velcro. However, getting your foot IN was a whole different matter. “Reaching over to spin the rotary knob just never became comfortable to us and seemed to [take] longer.” Fast forward three years, and Scott has decided to give Boa a try. Instead of going for revolutionary, they started with their existing Scott Carbon Tri and simply swapped out the upper Velcro strap for Boa. So, did this change our thoughts on Boa?

The Scott Tri Carbon Shoe

The Scott Tri Carbon shoe starts with the basic platform we reviewed back in 2015. Starting from the bottom up, the outsole is built in HMX carbon. And like the 2015 model, the newest model features a stiffness index of 9. We spent the entire 2016 season in this shoe and never found it lacking for power transfer. If you get a chance to hold a pair of Scott Tri Carbons, it’s hard not to notice just how thick the carbon is in certain areas.

The upper is Lightweight Microfiber with 3D Nylon Airmesh. From up top, you can see the Airmesh around the toe box, and each side also features three Airmesh vents. The result is a shoe that we used comfortably in multiple Olympic distance events and 4+ hour solo rides. Throughout everything, we never were wanting for more ventilation.

The inside of the shoe is soft and comfortable with no harsh seams to catch a rider who chooses to go sans socks (as we did). The top of the strap is especially supple. We found it comfortable even as the mileage started approaching triple digits.

Scott’s Adjustable Ergologic Insole System is an anatomically designed, adjustable insole. Foot zoning allows Scott to consider the anatomical shape of the foot and ergonomically pre-shape their insoles for a perfect fit to support the cyclist’s foot. The Scott modular foot bed allows for adjustments to the rider’s individual needs and preferences with three different volume arch and metatarsal pads for high-, medium-, and low-volume feet.

At the back is a large loop that provided more than enough leverage to slip your foot into the back of the shoe when mounting in T1. Or to get your shoe off in T2.

Then there was the Boa enclosure – which is what really makes the Tri Carbon interesting! As we mentioned at the top, where Specialized went completely revolutionary with their Trivent, the Carbon Tri is a much more evolutionary approach. And we think it worked a little better here too (at least when mounting) – if only that it took less revolutions of the dial to get strapped in. This is primarily where we felt the Trivent struggled. For those that have not gotten the chance to sample Boa, its patented system consists of three integral parts: a micro-adjustable dial, super-strong lightweight laces, and low friction lace guides. By tightening the dial, the laces themselves are incrementally tightened, which provides a tight, consistent fit throughout the shoe. The Carbon Tri’s feature the Boa IP1 system, which allows for adjustments 1mm at a time. The dial can be rotated forward or back to loosen or tighten the shoe. You can also pop the dial out to completely disengage the system so the lace loosens and your foot can pop out.

Our Thoughts

Let’s start with the shoe itself and the Boa system second. With the last generation Carbon Tri’s, we said:

We rode and raced on the Tri Carbons for more than a year and have walked away all smiles. This is a fantastic shoe—comfortable for even the longest and hottest rides, easy to transition into, and helped us continue putting the power down to the road. Who can ask for more?

And this next generation clearly lives up to its brethren. This shoe was comfortable for both short powerful interval workouts and for long Z2 rides. We never found ourselves wanting for ventilation or better power transfer.

While riding, the Boa system is fantastic. Where a Velcro strap makes you completely unstrap and re-strap for a small adjustment, with Boa, you simple move the dial a millimeter at a time. This make for a consistently good fit even as your foot makes slight changes over the distance of your ride.

Like the Trivent before it, this generation of Carbon Tri also succeeds on the dismount coming into T2. We never had an issue popping out the dial and getting our foot quickly and cleanly out of the shoe. This takes far less work, time, or effort than a Velcro enclosure. However, similarly, it still struggled on the T1 mount. Fingers covered in sea water, grime, and sweat have trouble getting leverage on the dial and spinning it tight. In this case Velcro is still easier. In our review of the Trivent, we suggested some type of spring loaded dial that automatically tightened it down for you. Here, we suggest something even simpler – a small pop-out lever that lets you get a little leverage for tightening, and then folds back in to the dial so it’s out of the way.

Wrapping Up

A shoe that took us to the podium multiple times is tough to find too much fault in. It’s comfortable for the distance and cleanly transfers power. The addition of the Boa system makes adjustments over 112 miles much easier to accomplish than a similar Velcro strap. And dismounts are truly a breeze. Where Boa still struggles is race day mounts. And that’s something we think the team at Scott or Boa can easily fix. This evolutionary approach definitely worked for the Carbon Tri, and we cannot wait to see what the next version brings.

Leave a Reply