"One of the first things to really start bothering me on long rides are my feet," explains Night Mono tester, John Braynard. "Normally it starts as a slight pressure in the top of my foot just as I hit four hours in, and it builds from there."
On the bike, anything that takes you out of the moment is bad. And for road cyclists, foot pain is often top of the list. It starts with an ache, a pinch and before long, you're thinking about your feet - and who wants to do that?
Thankfully, since wearing Quoc shoes, John's foot problems have long since departed. "After many long days on the bike, the Quoc Mono feels like a glove on my foot. It's stiff, yet relenting - which is the key for comfort when going out for a long, fast ride," he says. "Every time I look down on the bike, I'm still surprised that I'm even wearing shoes."
John's comments are echoed by another Mono tester, Max Riese, who took things to extremes with an extended single-session ride from his hometown of Salzburg. "The only point where I thought about the shoes was while I put them on," he recalls. "Even after 400km in the saddle, I didn't even think about my feet hurting or being uncomfortable. That's amazing: no blisters, no numb spots. I walked into the office on Monday like I'd had a chilled Sunday ride."
But no matter how important it is to be comfortable, if your road cycling shoes don't look good, you won't be inspired to ride. When we designed Mono, our guiding principle was simplicity. In other words, Mono had to complement your existing kit, not complicate it. And for riders like John, clean design is everything. "I'm never truly comfortable on a bike if my style is slightly off," he admits. "Things like the wrong length of sock or odd colour patterns take a bit of the ride away for me. But the Monos are the perfect combination of technical excellence and pared-down style. They look and feel right."
With so much apparent innovation in the bike industry, you might be forgiven for thinking that everything worth doing has already been done. Not so for cycling shoes. Most brands take a pre-existing mould (a 'last'), switch the upper, slap on a logo and call it good. It's the shoe equivalent of an open mould carbon frame: average and everywhere.
Mono, just like every Quoc shoe, starts with a different mindset. Each model in our range is created with a wholly new shape, designed from scratch in-house and made to our exacting specifications by premium partners. Our shoes are unique, and as such, you won't find them anywhere else. And while it's not the easiest or most economical route a brand can take, it does mean that we can create better shapes and maximise comfort. It means we can innovate.
The Night Mono ships October 2019. Pre-orders are now open.