April 27, 2011
Jon's view on the brand's first closed toe cycling shoe
From: Keen Footwear
Tested: Four Months
Keen are probably better known for their wide range of walking, running and generally ‘outdoorsy’ footwear and they’ve always had a reputation for comfort and durability. They’ve stuck their toes in the murky water of cycling specific shoes previously with their SPD sandals but this, the Springwater, is the first closed toe, cycling-specific shoe they’ve made.
It’s obvious Keen haven’t made these shoes with the XC race crowd in mind but I’ve been riding them on plenty of offroad as well as commuting and mooching around the office when I’ve forgotten normal shoes.
Up top there’s waterproofed PU coated leather with three velcro straps and mesh sections inbetween to allow flex. At the back there’s a webbing strap that serves as a pull loop and also has plenty of 3M style reflective detailing. They feel chunky and durable with neat stitching and a quality finish.
The inners are made of anti-stink treated mesh and along with the ‘metatomical’ arch supporting footbed they’ve proved to be a fragrance free, supportive and comfy place to be. Although spacious it’s still possible to keep them tight enough to stop your foot flapping about inside as you pedal but retain enough space to wiggle the toes.
The plastic sole doesn’t offer the brutal stiffness you get from a racier SPD shoe but it does mean the Springwater is happy on longer walking sections or when not pedalling. The chunky rubber sole is very good on rock and grips well in the mud and wet, although they’re not a winter shoe – water will come through that mesh on top rather quickly. The wrap over toe cover does prevent toe stubbing pain as well as being a styling nod to the rest of the Keen range.
Like other Keens, the shoes are also very wide – indeed, that’s a real selling point for some people. If you have rather wonky legs (like myself) then they can hit the cranks at the heel. The cleat also sits in an especially deep recess in the sole which stops it hitting the floor when walking but made it hard to get enough side to side adjustment and I needed spacers under the cleat to ensure stress free unclipping. For people without John Wayne legs or those willing to get chopping with Stanley, this won’t be a problem.
I suspect the real SPD sadists wouldn’t be happy with the level of tightness you can achieve or the more flexible sole but this just isn’t a shoe made for them. If I was about to do a very long bit of touring both on and off-road then these would be just perfect – you could pedal all day and still be able to walk comfortably when you got to whatever far flung destination you desired.
Overall: If you don’t want an aggressive riding shoe, have wider than average feet, value comfort and durability then the Keen Springwaters are an extremely well made, comfortable and pleasant place to be both on and off the bike.