If you're running on a self sponsored cyclist's budget but still need shoes that can take a beating on the trails or ferry you across sandpits and run ups in your next 'cross race, we'd consider the Diadora X Vortex Racer II Shoes. Far from an entry level shoe, the X Vortex Racer II features much of the same technology as its pro level sibling, the X Vortex Pro, striking a desirable middle ground that makes it possible not to sacrifice quality for the sake of a budget. Diadora's Suprell Air Mesh uppers provide a slim, race ready fit around the top of the foot in the X Vortex Racer II. The synthetic material features ample perforations as well as strategically placed mesh paneling to help encourage airflow whether you're riding deep in the trees or along a moonscape of breezy, exposed rock gardens. Like Diadora's other top end shoes, the X Vortex Racer II is built on Diadora's contoured Race Last, a fit that is further complemented by a Boa dial and hook and loop strap, which allow for minute adjustments across the sensitive areas along the instep. The key difference between the X Vortex Racer II and its pricier siblings is, of course, the former's composite reinforced soles. These outsoles won't have the unmatched rigidity of full carbon, but at 6. 0 out of 12. 0 on the stiffness index, they'll dutifully transfer power from your feet to the pedals without feeling like they're going to give out. With a claimed weight of just 320g per shoe, you can rest assured that the lack of carbon doesn't detract from the X Vortex Racer II's race ready quickness.