Diadora Gara Carbon Review: Nailed it on the first try?

With the Gara Carbon, Diadora might have created one of the year's best racing shoes on the first try. Is it worth the money?

Diadora Gara Carbon: A Flashback to the Future 

Ivan: As someone who is half Italian and grew up during the late 80s and early 90s, Diadora holds a special place in my heart. Synonymous with both sports and lifestyle gear, Diadora has catered to a wide variety of consumers across different price ranges over the years. However, their commitment to quality shines through in products like this pioneering entry into the supershoe category and recent releases such as the Atomo v7000, proudly manufactured in Italy.

 

While the Gara Carbon may not be as budget-friendly as some other Diadora offerings, it clearly stands out for its design, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. Let’s delve deeper into its features and assess whether Diadora has succeeded in delivering a top-tier Supershoe right from the outset, one that also lives up to the expected performance standards.

Gara Carbon-14
Gara Carbon-10

Specs: 

US 8.5 (EU41): 210g / 7.4oz

 

Drop: 5mm (39mm/34mm)

 

Price: $300/ €290/ £250

Gara Carbon-07
Gara Carbon-04

Diadora Gara Carbon Upper: Racing with Style and Comfort

Ivan: The Gara Carbon impressively weighs in at just 210g in my size US 8.5 / EUR 41 (be aware of Diadora’s size conversions). While this places it on the lower end of the scale, there are even lighter options available. What truly stands out to me, however, is the remarkable level of comfort and padding in this weight class. The inclusion of suede overlays around the eyelets and heel area, along with the generously padded and sturdy heel counter, adds substantial comfort just to name one area

 

Furthermore, the shoe offers a spacious and slightly elongated fit. If you find yourself between sizes, you could likely opt for half a size down and shed even more weight. Despite its roominess, heel slippage hasn’t been an issue, which is important as the shoe lacks the extra eye loop for a heel lock. The nubbed laces provide reliable security, enhancing lockdown around the midfoot, although a bit of padding in the tongue would have been appreciated.

 

The insole is remarkably thin, possibly the thinnest I’ve encountered and I eventually opted to swap the insoles for a slightly tighter overall fit. The Matryx mesh upper with carbon yarns not only contributes to the shoe’s lightweight construction but is also renowned for its durability. Diadora’s choice of high-end materials bodes well for the shoe’s longevity, a noteworthy consideration. Overall, the utilisation of premium materials and attention to detail by Diadora is commendable, particularly considering the price tag, which isn’t always a given in the Supershoe category.

A Thing of Beauty

Andy: Ivan has given an excellent technical description of the upper of the Gara Carbon. However, he forgot to mention one thing. It is a stunning looking shoe. Thankfully, this is an occasion where the performance matches the looks. I concur with Ivan about the sizing, I think I would go half a size down in my next pair due to the width and length of the toe box. 

 

For me, the fit has been excellent in the heel despite the spaciousness of the toe box. As with Ivan, I have suffered no slippage when I have been pushing power through the shoe. Despite the addition of padding around the heel collar, the Matryx upper’s remarkable breathability remains unfettered. Overall, the step in comfort for a race based shoe is fantastic. 

 

Finally, the tongue, while without a gusset, stays firmly in place with the combination of nubbed laces and double lace loop in the middle. I can’t say that I noticed any issue with needing more padding in the tongue. For my tastes, it sat fine and provided all the protection I needed.

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Gara Carbon-03

Midsole Magic

Ivan: I’ve thoroughly tested the Gara Carbon and I’m still amazed at how Diadora has crafted a Supershoe that rivals the best out there. Diadora categorises it as both a road and track racing shoe, and while it’s only “race legal” for road use due to stack height regulations, I can see why it’s also recommended for track running. The 5mm drop is noticeable, and personally, I find the shoe excels when pushing the pace. As a midfoot striker, I do miss a bit of rocker geometry at slower paces, but when I increase the tempo and push off strongly from the forefoot, the ride transforms entirely.

 

The combination of the 35mm thick, soft yet responsive Pebax foam – branded as ANIMAPBX – and the carbon plate is almost magical. It’s difficult to describe, but the toe-off feels soft and cushioned without being overly squishy, and it’s very responsive without any harshness. It’s simply a joy. Additionally, the well-cushioned and extended heel area suggests that heel strikers would also appreciate the ride.


I’ve found that the shoe responds better the more effort I put into it, which is why I’ve particularly enjoyed it for track intervals and uptempo road running, especially at speeds faster than marathon pace. Currently, it’s a strong contender as my go-to shoe for any road race up to the half marathon distance. Additionally, I’ve found it to be more stable than most alternatives, thanks to the sturdy heel counter and the relatively wide platform under the forefoot.

Fast, Responsive and Fun

Andy: I can only echo what Ivan says about the midsole in the Gara Carbon, Diadora have made magic here. Having used the shoe on both road and track, I have found it has leapt straight to the top of my race day choices. It is fast, bouncy and propulsive. On track, I have run everything from all out 100m efforts to more conservative longer reps. On the road, I have used it for longer steady runs and closer to marathon pace work. In each case, it has worked wonderfully. 

 

The Gara Carbon gives me a real quandary. I want to do every hard training session I do in it while also wanting to save it for racing. With my forefoot strike, I think I manage to land just behind the fulcrum of the midsole and it just works wonderfully. I have no complaints about the ride at all and can only hope that the shoe has the durability for me to enjoy it for many, many miles to come. The mix of the ANIMPBX and the, I believe, Ducati carbon plate is a truly wonderful concoction. Highly responsive and fast feeling, the midsole really is dipped in fairy-dust to make it one of the most fun shoes I’ve ever run in.

Gara Carbon-11
Gara Carbon-05

Diadora Gara Carbon Outsole: Durable and Quiet

Ivan: During my initial 75 km with the Gara Carbon, I’ve observed no significant wear and tear, and the outsole coverage appears substantial, particularly in the forefoot area. However, heavy heel strikers might have a different experience. The so-called Duratech 5000 rubber outsole is soft to the touch and runs very quietly, a feature I always value. Despite encountering wet conditions on a few runs, regrettably failing to keep this beauty clean, I’m pleased to report that the grip is adequate for its intended purpose, though nothing particularly spectacular.

 

Andy: The rubber underfoot has been more than adequate for my running purposes so far. Bearing in mind that we have had one of the wettest periods of weather for years, I have suffered no issues with slippage on road or track. It is possible to push power through the Gara Carbon with no fear of failure.

After my mileage so far, I have noticed no real degradation in the outsole in my high wear areas on the lateral sides of the forefoot. I agree that it is a quiet shoe too. While some racers can come with a slappy forefoot or a hollow, thudding landing, the Gara Carbon has no such foible.

Gara Carbon-09
Gara Carbon-08

Diadora Gara Carbon Conclusion: A First Rate First Effort

Ivan: As mentioned a few times, I still find it difficult to comprehend how Diadora created a supershoe that I truly believe rivals the best, of course depending on individual biomechanics and preferences. While some may question the idea of investing so much in a race shoe from a brand with very limited experience in developing top-tier race day shoes, I can confidently assert that this shoe is worth every penny. Its design choices, premium materials, and exceptional performance, combined with a lightweight and fairly stable design, are simply superb.

 

Andy: If you had told me a couple of months ago that I’d say a €300 Diadora shoe is pretty much a must buy for anyone looking for a fast, comfortable racer, I would probably have laughed. However, putting it on foot and running in it has shown me how wrong I’d have been. Every run so far has been an absolute pleasure and it is hard for me to pick anything else out of my cupboard when I know I want to try and run fast. The Gara Carbon has instantly leapfrogged the Vaporfly 3, Fast-R 2 and anything else I’ve tested this year. Comfort, beauty and performance are balanced perfectly with the Gara Carbon. This is a true gem of a shoe. Thank you, Diadora!

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Ivan

Ivan

48 years old

180cm (5’9″) – 63kg (138lbs)

Midfoot striker – Cadence runner

Mild pronator

@runnersgrit

Andy

Andy

45 years old

173cm (5’8″) – 66kg (145lbs)

Forefoot striker – (Very) high cadence runner

@discobob

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