Keen Springwater II Cycling Shoes
Keen first entered the cycling shoe market with an SPD compatible version of their popular sandals. The Springwater II is Keen’s second generation closed-toe SPD compatible cycling shoe. The major changes over the original version are improved fit and a lower price point, but many of the features remain unchanged. They feature a three-strap Velcro closure system, a full-length support plate, moisture-wicking lining, a non-marking rubber outsole and uppers made from synthetic materials.
What interested me in these shoes was the desire for a slightly more performance oriented shoe for city riding, as well as a slightly more casual shoe for mountain biking. Because as much as I appreciate the styling of my urban SPD shoes, there are reasons that high-performance cycling shoes don’t have shoelaces. And as much as I appreciate my carbon fiber soled mountain bike shoes, if the whole point of riding is to end up at a bar or restaurant, it’s nice to be able to walk across a tile floor without sounding like a bad imitation of Gregory Hines. Besides, there are many rides that involve time off the bike, whether it be in the city or elsewhere. In those situations, these shoes excel, yet they’re still stiff enough to put power to the pedals and resist “hot spots” associated with riding in soft shoes.
In addition to commuting and general urban riding, I took these on a vacation where I spent several hours at a time riding mountain bikes in the desert. I never felt any noteworthy foot discomfort, and I found that they were not only sure-footed, but that the ample rubber toe cap offered additional protection while hiking over particularly rocky stretches of trail.
Interestingly, I typically find that Keen shoes run a little large, and Keen says they find that the Springwater II shoes run a little small. The result? A perfect fit for me. I also especially like the feel of the insole, which has a lot of arch support.
If I had to level any complaints it would be that the sole could have more space around the cleat. This could be solved with a utility knife, I know, but I personally hate hacking away at expensive footwear with a razor. And perhaps the top strap could be a little longer, though it makes enough contact to do the job. I do kind of wish that Keen would offer an even more subtle color scheme (or at least do away with the bright yellow accents) but I’m happy with the look of these as they are.
I’ve also been very happy with the wear resistance of Keen’s cycling shoes. The Coronado Cruiser shoes I reviewed two years ago are still going strong, with no sign of fading anytime soon. And that’s despite a legitimate amount of abuse on the bike polo courts.
The Springwater II shoes are available in black/yellow and grey/red. They retail for $110. Check out www.keenfootwear.com.