Keen's Austin Pedal shoe might have a look best described as geography teacheresque, but that estimable body of men and women have long known a thing or two about the benefits of practical footwear for both the classroom and the great outdoors so if you are after a pair of really well thought out and comfortable all day wear urban cycling shoes look no further because these are the kitties.
The Keen's sturdy appearance may not be the most fashionable but the Austin Pedal shoe's sensible and considered design will pay back dividends in comfort and practicality and this in my opinion is what this shoe is all about. You could learn to love them believe me.
Designed to be "ready for urban adventure on and off the bike" the shoes are made from a waterproof leather upper like you find on hiking boots and have a chunky sole like you find on a fell walking shoe. In fact, they are similar to trail shoes but these have a recessed SPD compatible plate in the sole. There aren't that many clip-in shoes that work well when off the bike but these have enough give in the rubber heel and sole that you don't notice that you are standing on a cleat. In fact they are so comfortable you could wear them all day and without even clipping yourself to your bike.
Despite having waterproof uppers and no air vents I didn't find these shoes too sweaty, the moisture wicking lining working very well, even with thick socks. In really soppy weather I found that the water run-off from my 3/4 length trousers deposited in my shoes turning them into slosh buckets. This wasn't a problem with long trousers like the Rapha soft shells or you could go for the full on hiking look and wear some gaiters.
It took a while for me to get used to the he large rubber toe's guppy fish like appearance but it makes perfect sense after splashing through a few puddles or kicking your way through long wet grass. They also keep your toes protected from any wind chill, you won't need a pair of over socks/shoes if your shod with these during the cold months.
Ok, the heel cup might not be the deepest and with effort you could probably pull your foot out of the shoe with it still on the pedal and the soles aren't the stiffest but these aren't made for sprinting, they are for leisurely tours and commutes. That thick rubber sole isn't light either, which goes al long way to explaining the positively portly 1050g weight for the pair but it is grippy, non-marking and gives a nice bit of cushioning. I don't really know what 'Metatomical' is but it is in footbed and must have something to do with making this shoe so comfortable, Keen says that "the internal support mechanism is anatomically engineered to provide excellent arch support and cradle the natural contours of the foot", that's probably it then. A lot of SPD shoes give you hot spots, especially if you are plodding about in them all day without turning any pedals but I didn't experience that with these.
At first I wasn't turned on by the Keen's rambler aesthetic, they don't go with narrow trousers either, but that aside, they are so super comfy, sturdy and weather proof that I find myself picking them off the shoe rack even to go into the garden and they have become my favourite commute footwear in bad weather. At a penny under 100 quid they are quite expensive but given the level of quality and materials used in their construction, they should last you a few years and prove worthy of the outlay.
A sturdy, weatherproof leisure and commute SPD compatible cycling shoes that are genuinely comfortable both on and off the bike.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Keen Austin Pedal shoe
Size tested: Shitake, 42
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Keen tell us to "Lace up the SPD compatible Austin Pedal, and be ready for urban adventure on and off the bike. Handsome waterproof leather and classic Oxford lace design disguise the bike-ready performance of a recessed SPD plate underfoot. The Austin comes prepared for long commutes with a moisture wicking lining and toe-protecting rubber outsole to keep your feet looking sharp and feeling great.
Agreed, apart from the sharp looking, what with that toe cap?
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Weight: 18.72 oz / 532.958 grams
Lining: Moisture wicking textile
Upper: Waterproof leather
Rubber: Non-marking rubber outsole
Type: Shoes, Lace Up
- 3/4 length SPD-compatable plate
- Classic oxford lace design
- Leather upper
- Metatomical footbed
- Moisture wicking lining
Don't expect to clip in and race in these. Where they perform is in comfort.
The rubber sole is quite soft so they will wear down if you walk around in them a lot.
At 1050g for the pair the will give your legs a little work out off the bike.
These are like your favourite slippers.
If you are an all weather commuter you will realise the value of a water resistant shoe and something that keeps your toes warm without over socks/shoes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
"ready for urban adventure on and off the bike" - not sure how much urban adventure off the bike you will be doing in shoes that look like they're ready to ramble. Probably quite ironic in a night club in Shoreditch. Still that's urban adventures for you, the city has a million stories and all that...
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Water resistant, shielded toe and above all comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Heavy, geography teacher/rambler look
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, suprisingly so
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes
About the tester
I usually ride: Bike that I am testing at the time My best bike is: Giant CFR pro, old school carbon converted to fixed. Kinesis Convert 2 fixed. Shorter cafe racer
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed, bare back