Spring, Shoes and Non-League Football

Only one week to go before the horological shift that puts us into British Summer Time. I can’t wait! Today has been a very Spring-like day (it should be ; yesterday was the Spring Equinox –  just after half past five in the afternoon apparently!). No arguing, it is definitely Spring.

Ordering the bike and awaiting its assembly and adjustments – I’ll hopefully pick it up early this coming week – has got me thinking about the other things that I need to buy to get the most out of the bike itself. We are not talking tents or satellite navigation systems here, we are talking shoes and gloves and perhaps saddles and panniers. The one that I have spent a bit of time researching this weekend has been the shoes.

Up until now, courtesy of pedals without cleats and a piece of plastic that is attached to the front of the pedal and wraps around the front of a pair of trainers, I haven’t needed anything special. I did buy some North Face waterproof trainers before I returned to commuting last September and these have been fine, apart from, ironically, when it is very wet. They are certainly water-tight. So water-tight in fact that when it is extremely wet and water runs down my leg and into the top of the trainer, it has no means of escape. When I arrive home, I am squelching around as if I am carrying around a little private puddle in each shoe! But, as I say, apart from that minor annoyance, they are fine.

The new Panoroma – I will have to give it a name when I take delivery of him or her (as well as deciding what sex I am riding) – does however have cleated pedals. I’m not sure by the way if I am using the word “cleat” correctly in this post. Is the “cleat” the bit that is attached to the pedal or the bit that is screwed to the shoe, or indeed the whole mechanism? I digress… Proper cycling shoes are a must to make the most out of Pandora (how does that sound?). When I went for the bike fitting last week, I had to try and choose a pair of cycling shoes to make the measurements accurate. Different shoes have different sole depths which affects the set up of the bike (no, I don’t believe that one either but I bow to the greater judgement of the experts at AW Cycles). I spent a good twenty minutes trying to find a pair that I liked but despite AW Cycles having the largest stock of cycling shoes in Reading (a boast that I am now willing to believe after trailing around other purveyors of said shoes this afternoon and finding few on display in most shops and in Halfords, the great mass-supplier of bikes to the nation, none at all!), I didn’t find anything that I liked. My chief problem is that I don’t like dark grey or black trainers. I never have and I never will. My North Face trainers are actually dark grey and they are fine if being worn with long black winter leggings but the thought of cycling to Italy with goth feet is not my idea of fun. Trainers really should be light in colour, especially when wearing them with shorts. I can see why a dark colour is practical for mountain bike shoes or MTB shoes (which are the ones I am looking at as this type of cycling shoe allows you to walk around when you are off the bike without doing an impression of a tap dancer on ice), but they don’t look good. All the ones on display at AW Cycles were dark coloured. I did eventually decide on a style that could be used for the purposes of measurement but made it clear that I was not going to buy them.

And so to the Internet. Chain Reaction Cycles claims to be the largest online retailer of cycling goods so if they didn’t have any lighter-coloured MTB shoes, no-one would and I would have to re-adjust my fashion sense. Fortunetly, they do and you can see them all here. If you look down the list of pictures you can see what I mean about the predominance of darker shoes on the market. However, there are some potential winners when it comes to style and practicality. We are back into cool-name heaven here (see previous posts about the names of tents); the first shoe that caught my eye was the “661 Attack 2009“. With a name like that, it could have defeated the Nazis single-handed! Err… single-footed I suppose. OK, it’s fairly dark grey and black but not that dark grey and black. You can see that I am a difficult customer to please. Plus points; it’s cheap – £45 after the 50% sale reduction (not popular?) and a good review from an English-speaking person. Negative points: a bad review from a French-speaking person who states “ses chaussure sont très bien mais la semelle est trop du et on glisse sur les pédale”. Isn’t that just appalling French? I may be a French teacher but there are five errors in that sentence!! I am horrified that he has written “ses”. Anyway, back to the shoes themselves…. Next up is the “Diadora X-Trail Evo 2009“. This one sounds like an automatic weapon that the 661 Attack squad might use on a daring mission, but it looks fabulous, doesn’t it? The picture here shows it off in all its glory. Nice of the manufacturers to point out that it is indeed white and black (see caption in the top right-hand corner). Incidentally, is it an age thing that makes me think of non-league football in the early 1990s when I hear the word “Diadora”? The only problem with the X-Trail Evo 2009 is that, apart from being quite pricy – £86 from Chain Reaction – it is only available in certain sizes in this colour. Depressingly, it is only available in “Black-Silver” in a 42 and just to prove my point about style, here, on the right, is another picture of exactly the same shoe but in that colour combination. Absolutely bloody awful and I refuse to give the picture more than a “thumbnail” billing on this post. It has Chav written all over it. There is however hope. I refer you back to the name – the Diadora X-Trail Evo 2009. We are now in 2010 of course and it is last year’s shoe. The “Diadora X-Trail Evo 2010” is listed on the Chain Reaction website but with no picture and nothing in stock. At first glance this is not brilliant news but I assume that the lack of an image and stock is simply that it is a brand new shoe that is eagerly awaited, no? Come on Diadora, it’s now March, it’s Spring and there are thousands of people out there like me waiting to invest in your brilliant (white-black) shoes. Get a move on!

In the meantime, if anyone can shed any light onto the mysteries of purchasing (non-Black) footwear for cycling, please comment below.


Categories: Cycling

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7 replies »

  1. Reading with interest. My new bike will have clipless one side and platform the other side. I have been borrowing a set of clipless pedals and love them. With the added efficiency of my bigger wheels it will be great when I get the pedals on!!

    I need to get onto the shoes too!!

    • Ok , About the naming.
      After deep thought (read beer) and realising the only bike I have ever called anything that was not entirely descriptive of its purpose (eg “tourer” “racer” “hack”) was called skippy. Because i found it in a skip. And it is the only bike I now have fond memories of…… (me and skippy rode 185 miles coast to coast with panniers and s/he never let me down ) .
      So may be a naming isn’t so daft. I liked the name skippy as I could change it’s sex to suit my mood and it’s (read my) performance. So something sexualy non assigned is my suggestion.
      Chris springs to mind as it is the patron saint of travellers (Blackley Baptists might pray harder for you!!) But whoever called a bike chris eh!
      Enjoy Jim 🙂

  2. Good morning Andrew
    Name the bike! sounds like a competition. As for the sex of the thing you will be riding 8 hours a day I will leave that to your personal preference. As for the name, Pandora? yep geddit with the panorama thing but is this just a bit too Freudian seen as A.W is just about to open the (cardboard) box?

    Joking aside. The absolute minefeild of shoes you just walked into….. Instead of looking goth how about chav?
    Well at least they are white. Only thing I will say is no matter what colour or style be shure they are comfortable. Its a long way to italy and a painfull bit of kit will make it a lot further. Be prepared to ditch an uncomfortable pair and splash on another if you cant hack the big miles in em. The DHB shoes on wiggle get rave reviews, are cheap, well made and long lasting. May be worth a look if you can get over the colour thing.
    Hope you get it soon
    Jim 🙂

  3. Hello Andrew. I cannot help you with color selection. You may find this interesting though, there are clipless pedals (pedals you clip into, cleats are in the shoe) that allow you to clip in one side and are platforms (flats) on the other. I wish I knew about them before. This allows one to wear your bike shoes say to work and then you can ride with dress shoes to lunch. At camp or the beach you can wear your thongs, SHOE THONGs, to showers etc.

    I agree with you, bike shoes flexible enough to walk in are a plus. This avoids bringing a pair of walking shoes (and the weight) while on tour. I had the pleasure of meeting Iain Cullen last year (He rode the TransAm west to east). He wore his cleated bike shoes on the flight from Scotland to Vancouver too.

    Saddles; I believe that will be a most interesting journey as they are such a personal choice.

    • Regarding clipless shoes, I *love* mine. I fell over a few times early on before realizing that, in order to twist my heel enough to pop loose of the pedal, I need that side to not be at the bottom of the stroke… but then I’ve since learned while mountain biking that leaving a pedal at the bottom of a stroke is a bad habit anyway!

      Mine are actually clipless *sandals* (in so much as that the shoe part of them has openings on the top and back) and are water proof (in so much as that they are made of rubber and nylon). The brand is Keen and they look like this: (though they were on sale!).

      So why do I love them so much? In addition to being able to walk on just about any terrain and still look snazzy, I can smoothly deliver power through 100% of the stroke of the crank arm (which just feels really nice after a long day of riding), and I can get really incredible boosts of speed when I need to by standing up on the pedals, pulling up hard with the back one while pushing hard on the front one and not worry about slipping off the pedals.

      One tip – if you have extra cash, get them fitted professionally. Otherwise pay attention to your knees. If you feel *any* tightness or soreness, re-adjust the shoes or find the money to get them fitted. I apparently walk a bit duck-footed normally (never really noticed before), so when I screwed my cleats into the bottom of the shoes *straight*, I got some serious knee pain for the first day or two of my long-distance trip.

      • ps – one disadvantage to clipless pedals is that they act as a conduit for cold (technically a conduit for heat to leave your feat, but whatever), so in super-cold weather they are insupportable (some ice bikers claim to have found ways, but I haven’t).

        To that end, I have also seen hybrid pedals that work with standard Shimano and other types of cleats. They only clip in on one side, and the other side provides a platform to pedal normally. The ones I saw were a bit heavy for my taste, and I’m not sure whether I’d want to worry about which side of the pedal was up, in addition to clipping in.

What do you think?