August 7, 2013
Want the flat look with SPD's? Consider the Teva Pivot
Teva was really the first company to challenge Five Ten’s stranglehold on the grippy flat pedal shoe market when it introduced its Links shoe a couple of years ago. Now it’s hoping to make a dent in the clipless SPD shoe world with the Pivot.
Teva says it wanted to make a shoe that works great for trail riding, and that looks “terrible with spandex”. It also set out to get a bit more scientific with the 20-year-old cleat mounting system first pioneered by Shimano. Teva (pronounced ‘teh-vah’) teamed up with Crank Brothers to come up with a new way of attaching the cleat by keeping the bolt heads inside the shoe, rather than outside, being trodden on all the time.
The Pivot is pretty low profile, with much lighter padding than the flat-pedal Links on the tongue and upper. There’s an EVA midsole with a much shorter forefoot shank in it to keep the shoe flexible when walking. Plastic scuff armour front and rear helps keep things from wearing.
Turning to the cleat system, the Pivot comes with the familiar steel plate that sits in the forefoot – only this one has a pair of countersunk holes for attaching the cleat bolts from the inside of the shoe. These bolts pass through the cleat and attach to a threaded holding plate, locking the cleat in place. This is the bit that Crank Bros helped out with, proved by the Torx head on the internal bolts. You don’t need to use this system if you don’t want to and there’s a second pair of threaded holes on the forefoot plate for regular cleat mounting. To allow you to tighten these Torx bolts up on the inside of the shoe, there’s a little port on the upper, at the bottom of the tongue, that’ll allow you to get your tool to them. The upper has laces and a wide velcro strap to keep your foot tight into the shoe and keep the laces in check.
The bottom of the shoe has Teva’s familiar tread pattern under the ball of the foot and a couple of chevrons front and rear, saving weight and allowing a little traction.
I found the cleats very fiddly to attach and, having never had a problem with removing traditional cleat bolts since I started actually greasing them, I’m not sure I’d bother with the inside-out way the second time around. Any cleat adjustment also required a long-handled Torx key, which is supplied, though you might not have in your pack or toolbox.
Comfort is very good, with a much lighter feel than similar shoes from Giro or Five Ten. There’s a lot of aerated mesh on the upper that inevitably lets water in, but lets it out again and means the shoes stand a chance of drying out overnight. The sole on any flat SPD shoe is never going to be great for off-bike grip and the Tevas are about as grippy as expected. Good on dry dirt, reasonably slick and slippery on mud. I did find that the shorter than usual stiff shank around the cleat was very noticeable; your toes flex as if you’re wearing Converse. It’s not bad; it’s just different.
What Teva has produced is a smart-looking trail trainer that works well. I’ve used them on rides of up to 40 miles in comfort and I’ve also commuted in them and happily worn them round the office for the day. They’re not cheap, but they should last a good while.
Overall: Low-profile-in-every-way trail shoes that offer great on-bike feel and a smart and comfortable look off the bike.