Before the madness of Eurobike kicked off, Jon was invited to One Planet Adventure in Llandegla to see the new mountain bike specific shoe from Teva, the Links:
Teva (pronounced Teh-vah rather than Tee-vah) are well known in the world of watersports, having created the world’s first ‘sports sandal’ all the way back in 1984, when their founder and river rafting guide decided he needed something than held less water than a trainer but more secure than a flip flop. The idea rapidly caught on and Teva soon moved out into other forms of sport footwear as well as their sandals.
Despite this, the Links is their first foray into cycling shoes and they’ve been working with trials and freeride legend Jeff Lenosky (Links is the street he lives on) for the past year and a half to try and perfect it. It’s certainly a bit of a tech-fest. They’ve used their own proprietary variety of sticky rubber, Spider365, which they says gets even stickier when wet. It’s used on their watersports range but it should prove useful for mud covered flat pedals too.
The outer of the shoe is also extremely high tech, using water repelling ‘Ion Mask’ treatment on the leather and mesh upper. The coating waterproofs the fibres of the shoe at a molecular level, so although the shoe itself isn’t waterproof it is resistant to wetting out and soaking up water like some kind of trench-foot inducing sponge.
The rest of the shoe is finished to a high standard too, with durable laces and small cast eyelets on the upper two holes. The heel has a plastic stabilising band to keep you in place and there’s a shock absorbing pad for any hefty landings. On the toe there’s a rubberised grid to protect your toes and there’s plenty of padding all over.
The sole has also been thought through, with more aggressive tread on heel and toe to give extra traction when pushing up or down. The mid section is designed to hook up well with pedals and it’s just the right thickness too, giving plenty of feel but not to the point where individual pedal studs become uncomfortable. The sole hits a good balance between pedalling stiffness and allowing you to ‘squeeze’ around the pedal too.
That brings us to the inevitable comparison with the dominant brand of flat pedal shoe out there. The Spider 365 rubber isn’t as soft as Five Ten’s Stealth rubber and ultimately suffers in terms of outright sticky grip. That’s not to say the Links are slippy – far from it – and if you’re the kind of rider that likes to be able to constantly reposition their foot on the pedal then they’re arguably better. Teva say they’ve aimed more for the freeride market where all out grip isn’t the be all and end all as in more downhill orientated flat shoes.
The Links do score massive points in terms of comfort and quality. The insole is possibly the comfiest I’ve ever tried, feeling more like a set of nice Paul Smiths than a school pump. They’re extremely well made and hook up well on the pedal and off, the uphill grip being excellent thanks to the more aggressive sole.
After a hard days ‘work’ being given uplifts from the guys at One Planet Adventure and playing on the pump track, my feet still felt cosseted and in the soggy weather the shoes stayed a pleasant place to be.
As well as the purple ‘Ultra Violet’ colour scheme they also come in a yellow, grey and blue ‘Lunar Rock’ finish. Sizes are from a UK 6 all the way to a 13, with half sizes available.
We’ve got a couple of pairs to test, so keep your eyes peeled in the magazine for how they fare over the long term, but on first impressions the Links are set to give some established brands a run for their money.
The Links shoe will cost £85 and are available through independent bike shops across the country now.
Thanks to PJ, Jim and Ian from One Planet Adventure for good food, trails and willing uplifts, Neil Donoghue for showing us around and of course the guys from Teva for inviting us along and indulging my Imelda Marcos behaviour.