Choosing Urban Cycling Shoes
You wouldn’t run a marathon in socks and sandals. If you own a commuter bike, it is likely you have been in a similar situation by ruining a pair of shoes that weren’t right for the job. It might be best to invest in a good pair of cycling shoes.
Shoes designed for casual cycling stand at an intersection in the spectrum of footwear. They need to endure more strain than everyday wear and therefore are made of more durable materials, but aren’t subject to the same demands as shoes designed for high end road bikes. Striking the right balance between the two poles of street shoes and athletic equipment is the key for any good pair of casual cycling shoes. Below are three shoes at very different points in this spectrum.
Chrome Industries Truk Pro
Chrome has established itself as a strong purveyor of commuter cycling gear, much of it designed for durability. This intention shows itself in the unadorned aesthetic of the Truk Pro, which bears resemblance to the KEDs of the late seventies and eighties. Like them, the shoe is made for all –day wear, with recessed clips to prevent damage to floors; for flatter surfaces, the shoes come with additional sole plugs.
The Truk Pro comes in either black or grey, with reflective material added to the back of the shoes for night time riding. The fit of the shoe is Chrome’s patented FlexPlate™ technology, designed for both cycling and pedestrian use.
The fabric is 1000 count Denier Cordura, which provides for an unusually resilient shoe material. Combined with the dark coloration of the Truk Pro, the shoes are nearly stain proof. The Truk Pro comes in half sizes between U.S. 4.5 to 11.5, and whole sizes up to U.S. 14.
Like with all shoes –and especially cycling shoes – it is important to get a good fit. Users have voiced concerns about the roominess of the shoes, suggesting going a half size down. The durability of the Truk Pro remains a point of popularity among commuter cyclists, which cannot be overstated: when it comes to the design challenge of making a resilient cycling shoe, the Truk Pro passes with flying colors.
Of smaller importance is the style of the shoes, which may be a dealmaker/breaker for some. The argument comes down to a matter of individual taste: because it is less flashy than other modern shoes, it has been described as either “unembellished” or “orthopedic”. Your style, your rules.
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Chrome Industries Truk Pro Review
Pros: It is incredible durable, nearly stain-proof shoe. It comes in half sizes so most commuter cyclists will find the fit that is right for them.
Cons: As far as style goes, these are pretty bland. They are just under $100, making them more expensive than other shoes in the same category.
Teva Roller Suede
On the other end of the commuter shoe spectrum is the Teva Roller Suede, designed not so much as a biking shoe but as a bike friendly shoe. The difference is key, and is apparent in the major selling point of the Teva Roller being made from suede.
The interior lining is polyester mesh and comes with significant arch support, putting it slightly at odds with other cycling shoes that emphasize a pointed toe. The suede exterior holds a surprising stiffness for the material, though not as abrasion resistant as the fabric weaves which have become the market standard.
Though not possessing a tapered sole, the outsole is designed to balance on bike pedals, and the treading of the sole is aggressively patterned to maintain contact with the metal and reduce slippage.
The shoe comes in half sizes from U.S men’s 7 to 12.5 and whole sizes from 13 to 15. As of June 2017, several retailers are out of stock, notably REI, Nordstrom, and Teva itself; in its place, Tiva has started a line of full grain leather shoes. Backlog of the Teva Roller Suede can still be found on amazon, in varying sizes and prices ranging from $49.99 USD to $79.95 USD.
As stated above, what separates the Tiva Roller Suede from other cycling shoes is that it is bike friendly, not bike designed. Teva openly states that it is intended more for quick runs to the store than outings to the bike park. This is an important distinction that should be addressed when you buy: will this be used for an everyday commute, or a weekly joy-ride? The Tiva Roller Suede, while stylish, certainly tends to the latter.
Teva Roller Suede Review
Pros: It definitely a good looking shoe. The suede material gives it a sleek look/feel. The pricing varies dependent on the specific model, but are very competitive for the most part.
Cons: These shoes are meant to be bike friendly, not specifically bike designed. They will work great for shorter commutes, but are not meant for long daily rides.
Bontrager SSR Multisport
Bontrager is the in-house brand of Trek, one of the giants of the cycling industry. As sponsors of such large names as Lance Armstrong and the Atherton Siblings, it is no surprise that their footwear products cater towards high end, professional oriented offerings.
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The SSR Multisport combines the professional intentions for which Bontrager has become known with the conventions of outdoor clothing to form, as one reviewer puts it, “the sensible school shoes" of a market that turns increasingly towards trail-wear.
With this in mind, the SSR Multisport has both full laces and Velcro straps to close the shoe, with an outsole of carbon and rubber and removable clips. The midsole is plastic reinforced with some toe protection, and a glass reinforced nylon plate runs the internal length of the shoe. The cleats are SPD compatible, with the outer tread of the sole providing extra traction on inclined surfaces. The shoe complements its sensible features with a price tag of $89.99 USD.
While most nonprofessional cycling shoes exist on the spectrum between informal wear and athletic gear, the SSR Multisport hovers somewhere between athletic gear and hiking equipment. As such, the demographic that would seem to benefit the most from the SSR Multisport would be mountain bikers and cyclists that often encounter hills and varying terrain.
One point against its otherwise impeccable ruggedness is its weakness to wet weather. Given that the shoe was made to operate in the great outdoors, this seems like an issue that will eventually have to be confronted by any wearer.
Bontrager SSR Multisport Review
Pros: Bontrager is a solid brand when it comes to cycling gear, so you know you are getting a quality product. The SSR Multisport shoes are SPD clip compatible, making them a great casual looking shoe that also provides great power transfer.
Cons: They probably won't hold up too well in wet weather.
Choosing The Right Urban Cycling Shoes For You
One of the most important points when choosing a pair of urban cycling shoes is under what conditions are you going to use them? Will you be using these for city commutes or suburban? How long do you plan to be off the bike, and how often do you expect to use them? Those factors are what will dictate the performance of any pair you decide to buy; simply put, there are no universal cycling shoes. With this being said, the market for cycling shoes certainly has something for any set of conditions you might require.