March 21, 2023
Liv’s flagship road shoe is right at home with the best on the market when it comes to high performance, but its aggressive fit and stiffness may not be to everyone’s taste.
Photos: Alessandra Bucci
While they may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of what you need to go faster on a bike, cycling shoes make a huge contribution to performance. Sole stiffness is an important factor when it comes to power transfer, while comfort is important when it comes to long days in the saddle. A good cycling shoe strikes the balance between these two things, with high levels of power transfer without compromising the overall feel of the shoe.
Liv’s Macha Pros aim to reach this harmonious point with a number of technical features that have been added to the latest iteration of the shoe. An ExoBeam sole with a double-beam carbon fiber plate is said to reduce overall weight, increased heel stiffness aims to improve power transfer, while the brand’s Motion Efficiency system should encourage smoother pedaling and balance throughout the foot.
In terms of comfort, the shoes have a removable sock liner with adjustable arch support so each rider can adjust their specific fit. This is combined with a grippy SharkSkin material in the heel of the Macha Pro to ensure the foot stays firmly in place, and a double Li2 Boa ExoWrap closure system to distribute pressure evenly across the foot. All of these features are packed inside the shoe’s polyurethane-coated mesh upper, which features laser-cut micro-perforations for ventilation and durability.
The Liv Macha Pro shoes are women’s specific, coming with a narrower heel cup and different color options than the men’s equivalents of Giant’s Surge Pro. Built for competition and high performance, Macha Pros shoes are being tested at the 2023 Women’s WorldTour by the likes of Jayco-Alula and Liv Racing TeqFind, so we were excited to put them to the Review to see if they were also suitable for the everyday rider.
Impressions of the walk
There’s no denying that these shoes are made for running and going fast. This is evident just by looking at them: they feature a sleek, seamless construction that’s common to most of today’s more streamlined and modern cycling shoes, with Liv opting for welded rather than stitched seams to keep them flexible and light Staying on the theme of aesthetics, I can’t mention the stunning and unmissable purple color of the Liv Macha Pros I tried. The shoes pop in the sunlight and are a nice addition to any cycling outfit, although Liv offers a white version for those who prefer to keep their shoes a little more understated.
This purple color that adorns the entire shoe is printed on the mesh upper which is made to be breathable and well ventilated. Although my time with the Macha Pro shoes has been during the British winter, I’ve never had a problem with my feet overheating, even while wearing them inside the turbo trainer. I would argue that water seeps through the holes more than in shoes that have a solid upper, but that’s something I’d be willing to accept given the breathability benefits that the small holes in the shoes bring.
When it comes to the fit of the Macha Pro shoes, the aforementioned racing style means that they have a tight and closed fit. The toe box is quite narrow, but I didn’t have any issues with chafing or numbness in my toes (although that might be something to consider if you have wider feet). I liked the secure feeling the shoes gave without being restrictive, especially when doing sprints or harder efforts. The grippy SharkSkin material on the back of the shoe also helps with that locked-in feel, keeping the foot firmly in place without the risk of movement.
Arguably the most important element of a shoe when it comes to achieving that comfortable fit is Boa placement, and I found the Liv Macha Pro shoes to tick that box. The routing system means there are no pressure points on the foot, while the Boa Li2 system is easy to adjust on the fly to ensure the fit is perfect. Rather than pushing your foot down to hold it in the shoe, I found the ExoWrap closure system meant it was secured from all sides and angles, resulting in a much more comfortable feel. Unlike many shoes that use wire, the Macha Pros feature a Dyneema lace to keep them in place. I was skeptical about how flimsy it looked at first, but have since been impressed with its durability and the added flexibility it offers compared to a cable or plastic cable.
On the bottom of the shoe, the ExoBeam design of the carbon sole is extremely stiff and I found that I could really feel the benefits of this while getting off the saddle or going full throttle in a sprint. If you’re not used to a shoe with such a stiff sole and upper, this could take some getting used to, and I didn’t feel like I’d fully gotten used to the feeling of this stiffness until I a couple of rides, but once I did, I was a big fan of this feature. The incredibly light weight of the shoe is also an asset of the Liv Macha Pros, ensuring that no unnecessary grams of weight are carried around when warming up.
In terms of price, the Liv Macha Pro shoes retail for £299.99, a significant investment. However, this is in line with what most brands charge today for a high-performance flagship shoe that includes all the modern technologies in cycling shoe design. If you’re looking for a road shoe that gives you all the gains while you’re on the road, the Macha Pros are a great investment, especially if you have a narrow foot and enjoy a stiff, tight, race-ready fit. If you’re looking for a shoe more suited to long-range, endurance adventures, these might not be for you, but I had a hard time finding much fault with the Liv Macha Pro shoes when it comes to looking for a pair of shoes that are m ‘will help go fast.