Bike commuters face a dilemma every morning: Wear stylish-yet-inefficient street shoes, or suffer in stiff, ugly bike shoes all day. The third option, lugging an extra pair to work so you can have both power and panache, is a less-than-attractive compromise.
Shoe startup DZR has changed that equation by crafting some great-looking, comfy kicks that conceal SPD-compatible cleats. The versatility allows you to make nice with your clipless pedals without straining your feet or your fashion sense.
Clipless pedals let riders lock their feet to a bike for a more powerful and efficient pedal stroke. Clipless pedals are safer and far more productive than toe cages. But they also require small cleats on the bottom of the shoe in order to clip on to the pedal.
In addition, bike shoes have stiff soles for efficient power transfer. For obvious reasons, because of the stiffness of the shoe and the bottom cleat, bike shoes are a drag to walk around in all day.
DZR’s new line of shoes is an attempt to reconcile the bike shoe with the street. It’s been done before, but rarely has it worked so well.
A hollowed-out section on the bottom of the shoe conceals an SPD cleat (not included). Meanwhile a nylon shank in the sole provides more stiffness than your average sneaker, while remaining flexible enough to walk comfortably.
We even ran around in them a bit without noticing the rigidity — although we wouldn’t exactly want to jog in these things.They were fantastic on the bike, clipping in and out easily, with a noticeable stiffness on the up and down pedal strokes.
Yet they’re also extremely comfortable to wear and damn good-looking. The Strasse model we tested has a skate shoe cut, with herringbone tweed uppers and black accents. The logo on the heel doubles as a reflector when light hits it, which is great for night riding. Don’t want to walk around in your cleats? Swap them out with the screw-in rubber covers shaped to fit the exposed section in the sole. Unless you revealed the piece of metal embedded deep in the sole, no one would know these are bike shoes.
Yet, like all compromises, they’re not perfect. In order to remove the rubber plug in the bottom of the shoe to install the cleat, you have to slice it out with a knife. It was easy enough to do, but also seemed like a good way to lose a finger. We think the shoe ought to come with that bottom section already removed.
Also, the cleats tend to touch the ground in a noticeable way on concrete and (worse) hardwood. While you can remove them and replace them with the rubber covers, we expect most people would consider it too much of a pain to do every day.
Overall, however, these innovative and fashionable kicks make a great combination that will look just as good on the bike or at the bar. Just don’t get trashed and try to ride home, OK?
- Gaggle of Gear Tricks Out 2-Wheeled Commuters
- Swobo’s Crosby Bike Perfect for City Slickers, Trail Blazers
- Feetbelts Clipless Pedals
Photos: Jim Merithew/