Keen Cycling Sandals – First impressions
I love my good old Keen sandals for casual wear during the summer, so I was intrigued last summer when I began seeing that they were now making a pair of cycling sandals. I had considered getting a different brand of cycling sandals a couple of different times, but always backed out because Pam has a pair of Shimano and just doesn’t like them at all. I thought that if anyone would make a cycling specific sandal that could meet my expectations, perhaps it would be Keen, so I picked a pair up this spring. I’ve now ridden for a grand total of 30 miles in them so I thought I would present my first impressions.
I really like the sandal as opposed to the full Sidi MTB shoes I’ve worn for several years. They’re cool and refreshing to wear.
These sandals definitely don’t fit like normal Keens. The toebox is more narrow than my other keens. I suspect this is to allow the cleat to be centered on the bottom of the foot and still fit on a pedal. I had read this in reviews and decided that I wouldn’t buy a pair until I had a chance to try them on. That was a good decision. Unfortunately, when I checked, nobody carried them locally so when I was in Denver last month, we stopped at REI to try them on. They had them sized in US sizes, and since I normally wear an 8 1/2, that’s what I tried on first. No way! My toes were scrunched together, and while the length was probably OK, it just wouldn’t have worked. By going up to a size 9, I got enough room for my toes, but the sandal looks a little long on my feet. It probably looks odd to me since I’m so used to my normal Keens.
Even though these are sized at US size 9, the size conversion on the box puts them at a EU 42, which is normally what I wear in cycling shoes so I might have ordered the right size after all had I gone ahead and ordered them online. All the shoe size converters I’ve seen in the past convert the 8 1/2 at a 42.
Off the bike these shoes are a dream to walk in. They are soft and supple, and generally feel very similar to my other Keens. The cleat is recessed enough that I was able to gingerly walk across the hardwood floor in our living room (don’t tell Pam!) without it hitting the floor. I noticed that when I was walking around outside I would occasionally hear it grating on the concrete, but I think in general these shoes are probably safe to walk around indoors with as long as you’re careful.
On the bike, I can tell the sandals are not nearly as stiff as any of the cycling shoes’ I’ve worn. You’re going to lose a lot of power transfer with them, so you wouldn’t want to wear them if your goal is to “go fast”. I’ve not worn them yet on the tandem, so I’m not sure if this is going to be a handicap on it or not. From the few miles I’ve ridden in them, I can definitely tell that I wouldn’t want to ride 100 miles a day in them. Where the cutoff is, however, I can’t say at this point.
These sandals are pricey! At $115, they are more expensive than standard Keens (which already command a hefty price tag) as well as any other cycling sandal I’ve seen.
There are enough open areas in these sandals that you will burn parts of the tops of your feet if you’re not careful. I normally have pretty distinctive “Keen Sun Tan” lines on my feet, and these are just going to make them more pronounced. Use your sunscreen!
My bottom line after 30 miles is that I’m looking forward to wearing these shoes a lot more this summer. They are advertised as a “commuter” sandal, and they seem to be a great choice for that. Pam’s already talking about getting some of these for her. We started saving our pennies for them this weekend!
After riding with these sandals for the past couple of months, I’m pleased to say that they’re everything I hoped they would be. They are awesomely comfortable off the bike, and have become my favorite shoe. With the advent of hot weather, I’m loath to put my other ones one. The one drawback is as mentioned above, they’re not very stiff at all and if I ride longer distances or push hard in them, my feet and calves will be sore by the end of the ride and the next day. In spite of that, I still keep grabbing them whenever I’m about to jump on the bike!
edit again 11/2/2011
Nothing has changed! I still love the Keens and consider them my first choice for warm weather with one caveat. Longer rides on the tandem just don’t cut it. I”m better off with my regular shoes on tandem rides over about 30 miles.
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