In case you haven't heard, I'm quite particular about what goes on my feet. They're fairly wide-ish and strongly built, but at the same time, they're sensitive and have a tendency to get uncomfortable on long rides. If I'm walking or riding in sandals, I'll occasionally feel what I swear is a giant jagged rock under my foot, only to find it's the tiniest single grain of sand. Lots of "normal" shoes don't work for me because they're just too narrow and tight ... and yet a lot of the "wide" width shoes are too sloppy and clunky. Basically, it's pretty hard to find shoes that really work for my feet ... so when I trip and stumble across something that works, I get pretty excited.
Enter a new series of shoes from Teva.
Here's my disclaimer: None of the products reviewed here were provided to me by the manufacturer or any retailer for evaluation. Nope. I'm not one of those famous bloggers who gets stuff for free. I purchased everything with my own money, and without any sort of special interweb journalist discount, so you can rest assured that the opinions expressed here are unbiased and come purely through my own experience ... good, bad, or otherwise. That being said, should any manufacturers out there wish to provide some cool bike-related products for ... ummm ... testing and evaluation ... I would likely be open to offering my honest review.
Teva has been well-known for many years for their adventure and water shoes and sandals, as well as their Mush flip-flops, and has experimented with lots of other casual styles. I've been a fan of their sandals, and wear them daily, but to be honest, the shoes just haven't been a good fit for my feet. Over the past year, they've been introducing shoes for bike people, which seems a natural progression for the company, given their reputation for adventure and outdoor sports, and the sandals are worn by many cyclists. The shoe line was initially geared toward BMX and the more hardcore mountain bike style, the first two models looking like beefed up skate shoes with heavy padding and a stiffer outsole. Nice, but not quite the ideal for me ... nevertheless, I tried a pair of the Pinner model to see if they might work. They didn't. The tongue is so heavily padded that the entire shoe is very tight. Plus, the whole shoe just seems very small, both in length and width ... but going to a larger size would not have made the fit better, just clunkier. I understand this kind of shoe may be just the ticket for a BMX rider ... but not for me as a general-purpose wherever rider.
Other models began to appear, however, and my interest was again drawn to the line. The new models didn't have the heavy padding, nor were they all of the same skate styling. Some of them even looked like retro sneakers, made with leather. Hmmm. But still ... I hadn't had much luck with their shoes fitting well, and I wasn't sure the styling was quite right for a man of my age. After all, I'm not exactly a hipster. I browsed the line many times as they sent email messages of announcement, gazing with happiness that a company like Teva would offer focus to bike shoes that can be walked in and worn all day, and that don't require (or offer) physical attachment to lock the shoe to the pedal. Just good, all-around shoes designed with bike-riding in mind. I always ended the browsing being confident they probably wouldn't fit my "special" feet, and would probably make me look silly.
One model continued to catch my eye, though, and was relentless in its subliminal question of "what if". Teva calls it the Joyride. It's offered in both a standard low cut (Joyride) and a mid-ankle height (Joyride Mid). In a moment of weakness, I ordered a pair of the Mids, assuring myself that if they didn't fit, I could promptly return them. That was months ago. They are now almost the only shoes I wear when I ride.
Here they are:
They're offered in the dark brown shown here, as well as black. You can't really go wrong with either color, so I flipped a coin and the brown won. The uppers are made of waterproof leather, and are very soft. I did get caught in the rain on one occasion, getting soaked from head to toe, and the shoes are absolutely no worse from the experience. While the leather did get wet, it dried quickly and was not affected by the water.
I did add a set of DIY LaceKeepers, shown in the photos. Out of the box, there is no provided means for securing the laces. This really isn't a big deal, since the laces aren't really long enough to get caught in the chainring when tied. However, the lacekeepers I added make sure the laces STAY tied. An untied lace is not a good thing on a bike.
Inside the shoe is a light, but very comfortable "Mush-Infused" insole that seems to mold well to my feet. It's also removable, in case you want to replace them with a different insole. The shoe lining is soft and quite "breathable" (my feet don't seem to get hot in them). It's treated with some kind of anti-microbial stuff that's supposed to keep them from getting smelly ... and so far it seems to be working.
Here's what Teva has to say about them:
Riding your bike to work is the perfect way to start your day off on the right foot. But it’s really hard to find a shoe that has the appropriate level of sneaker-ness for biking along with enough seriousness for work. Solving that problem is the Joyride Mid. Hiding beneath the classy leather upper is our PedalLINK Outsole technology, which was developed with Teva Tribe professional riders for grip and feel. So if you’re looking for shoes that work on the pedal or off, the Joyride Mid is for you.
- Our Spider365 Rubber sole will hold its grip in all kinds of environments
- Our PedalLINK outsole was designed specifically to interface with the unique platform of a bike pedal
- Aggressive tread designs at the toe and heel will grip the dirt when you’re hoofin’ it
- Waterproof upper materials can handle getting wet
- The gusseted tongue keeps water out
- A Mush® Infused Insole brings the absurd comfort of our flip flops into a shoe
- A rubber bumper will protect your toes
- Waterproof leather upper
Part of what held me back the most was wondering if the style of the shoe was a bit too "young" for me. I imagined people would think I was going through some strange sort of mid-life hipster crisis, wearing shoes inappropriate for my age ... and in my mind, I saw that guy from the Sprint commercial:
|It is I ... your subconscious style insecurity|
However ... I actually do like the retro style very much, regardless of its potential for age-inappropriateness, and when I took them out of the box, I was very pleased. The material felt great and they appeared to be solidly built. Even better, they fit great ... even on my wide-ish sensitive feet. There's decent room in the toe box, and the leather is soft, so it adapts and shapes nicely. Walking is as comfortable as any good sneaker, and the combination of Spider Rubber and tread pattern provides good grip on all surfaces.
The true test, however, is in how they work on the bike. I can ride in almost any shoe for a few miles, but not so many of them get past 15-20 miles without causing some kind of discomfort or even numbness, especially if I'm pushing harder in a headwind or up a hill. The Joyride has been great from the first ride ... like a favorite broken in pair of sneakers that feels great no matter what you're doing in them. They stick to the pedals extremely well, but are easy to re-position when desired. While the shoe has plenty of room for my feet, it's also designed with no extra stuff sticking out, so it's easy to keep my feet tucked in close to the cranks, where the power and efficiency is much better for me. Most wide-ish shoes tend to force my feet out a bit on the pedals. And here's a puzzling thing for me ... the sole is pretty flexible, which generally doesn't make for a comfortable long-distance riding shoe, but somehow these feel great on the pedals and don't cause any kind of fatigue. They're also surprisingly light, considering the leather upper. Not a bit of clunkiness here ...
The "on-the-bike" performance of the Joyride quickly made me forget any insecurity I may have had with the style. They work so well, I'd wear them no matter what they looked like. That said, they do look nice, and they coordinate well with everything I own. It's even better that they're so comfortable for "off-the-bike" applications. They are truly an all-day shoe. I can't speak yet for durability, but so far, they've been great ... and I don't exactly coddle them while riding. They've been through salty ocean spray, dusty dirt trails, rain, and assorted road debris, not to mention a sizable dose of sweaty feet. They don't stink yet, and the pictures above are what they currently look like.
I'm considering getting another pair in black ... and maybe some of the low cut version, too ... now if I could only find a way to justify the purchase, because the last thing I "need" is another pair of shoes (or three) ... any suggestions?
If you're looking for a pair of comfortable sneakers with style, check the Joyride out, or any of the other shoes in Teva's Bike line. I think you'll like them ... and if lots of people buy them, maybe Teva will keep making them! Great shoes for regular pedals and regular bike people!!