Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Monday, June 18, 2012

BICYCLE GEAR REVIEW: Keen Austin Pedal Shoes

Keen footwear made a good impression on me with their protective toe guard design.  It's a thick rubber component that covers the front of their footwear and it's protected my pinkies from those objects and obstacles that I've overlooked and smacked my feet into.  Being an avid shopper, I started looking for some comfortable touring shoes to wear on my 2010 cross country bicycle tour.  While my Shimano road cycling shoes are comfortable for their purpose, I needed a shoe that was equally comfortable off the bike.  I like my Shimano road cycling shoes, but they would not fit the bill for touring comfort.  The Keen shoe/sandals fit the bill.

Several months before I left, I found the Keen Austin Pedal Shoes and began breaking them in.  Discovering whether these shoes would work for me was something I wanted to find out from the comfort of my own home...not on the road in the middle of nowhere.  Sometimes, I'm not stupid.  The Keens fit well, felt sturdy on the bike, comfortable off the bike, and look sort of like an oxford shoe, which made them look more normal when wearing street clothes.  They weigh in at 2lbs 4oz and are waterproof, full grain leather (is there a half grain leather?), but never felt bulky or hot while wearing them.  They list for $120, which makes these a bit pricey, but they are worth every dollar, IMHO.  Check out various sites online.  You might find them for less or that include shipping.  Even if you end up paying full price for these puppies, go for it.  They are worth the cost.  After wearing these shoes daily while riding across country and wearing them as shoes on days off the bike, they have been very comfortable.   Haven't worn them in heavy, continuous rain, so I can't speak to how "waterproof" they are.
Keen Austin Pedal Shoe

Keen Shoes with SPD cleats

A caveat.  A big one, too.  After about 15 months of wearing these shoes while cycling and some street wear while touring and on my return to Silver City, I went for a ride (July/2011) and, on getting back home, I tried to unclip my left shoe from the SPD pedals.  Once I managed to get it unclipped, I realized that the cleat was still attached to the SPD pedal and part of the sole was attached to the cleat.  Whoa!  Now, what to do?  Look to the right of this post and you'll see a heading, "Popular Posts"...the first one is the original post I wrote about this event.  Long story short...Keen sent me a new pair of the Austin shoes.  Cool.

-Very substantial cycling shoes that are comfortable to wear on the bike
-Very comfortable to walk around town in wearing regular clothes
-Good looking shoe
-Excellent customer service/warranty

-Well, they did fall apart after 15 months, of which, only a few months where I used them daily. ???

If you're looking for a comfortable, non-geeky touring/commuting cycling shoe, this is the one.  They're well worth the money, about $120/pr, and worth going to a local dealer/shop and checking them out.  They make up for the price with their quality, which is backed up by the Keen warranty.  Another real plus, IMHO, is that Keen recently moved their production line from China to Portland, OR.  Keen is now "proudly made in the USA"...not a slogan that Walmart can use any longer.  Not trying to steal jobs from others, but I do appreciate that Keen brought things home to America.  We need the jobs, too.  While there are other companies that make very good cycling shoes, they're all made in China, as far as I know.  Your choice.  A job in the U.S. or a job in China?

I will post about the Keen Commuter II Bicycling Sandal tomorrow.  This post would have been too long had I covered both of the Keen footwear products.

So, a tune to go offline with...Guy Clark singing "LA Freeway" on Austin City Limits.