Bikerumor Review: Keen Springwater Cycling Shoe

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Keen’s new Springwater cycling shoes debuted in January for Spring/Summer 09.

I’ve been riding them around town for a couple of months, and though I didn’t care much for Keen’s normal walking shoes, I like these for basic commuting and errands on the bike.  For those that already wear Keen shoes, you’ll probably love the Springwaters.  For those that have never tried Keen’s, all I can say is they’re different.  Their “Metatomical Footbed Design” is, according to Keen, anatomically engineered to provide excellent arch support and cradle the natural contours of the foot. In practice, at least for the pair I tried, that translates to a noticeable ridge under the middle of the foot.  All of the Keen wearers I spoke to are loyal to the brand, so I’m guessing you either love them or you don’t.

As a test, I’ve worn these around the office all day on a few occasions, and, considering they’re cycling shoes, they’re comfortable enough.  They’re easy to walk in even though they have a full length plate to provide rigidity when pedaling.  The SPD cleats are recessed into the tread just enough that they don’t hit the floor unless you’re walking really fast or running…which is good, because we have wood floors at our office!

If you’re in the market for some casual cycling shoes for riding to school, work or just to the coffee shop, read on to see the technical specs and my likes and dislikes…

TECHNICAL SPECS AND FEATURES:

  • Leather / Webbing upper
  • Hydrophobic, moisture wicking inner liner
  • Full-length SPD compatible plate
  • Non-marking rubber outsole
  • Hook and Loop closure
  • Aegis Microbe Shield in the lining to control odors
  • S3 Shock/Suspension/Stability system to cushion the foot and control ankle roll

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The Springwaters have Keen’s standard big rubber toe box to keep you from stubbing your tootsies and a sturdy build to keep your foot stable.  The striped webbing has reflective bits on the front center and back sides for visibility. The three large hook-and-loop straps make getting them on and off a breeze.

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Keen states on their website that this model runs about 1/2 size small.  I usually wear a size 13 (US), and the size 13 (47 Euro) they sent fits just fine.  Visually, they are huge.  Physically…they’re just as huge.  Keen’s aesthetic trademark is a very wide sole, and these live up to that tradition.  Notice in particular the width at the top strap, then refer to the picture below.

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The bike I used these on has some aluminum Race Face cranks, which have very hard edges, and make contact with the shoes if I let my pedaling form get just a little slack.  Depending on your foot angle and crank style, they could end up rubbing.  The picture below shows the beginnings of rub markings on the inside of the shoe, just behind and below the top strap.

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The cleat mount area comes with a plastic insert screwed into the shoes, so you can run them without cleats and just use flat pedals.  When installing the cleats, make sure you use the shorter screws, or get some from your local shop.  I installed them with some longer cleat bolts I had on hand, and they pushed up into the footbed and were uncomfortable.  Swapping them for shorter ones solved the problem.

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The heel cup has three reflective sections that cover the rear from all angles, and the yellow/black straps have additional reflective material on the rearmost parts.  It’s well padded and very comfortable, and it keeps your heel securely in the shoe for efficient pedaling.

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Back to the size.  The visual heft of these shoes is matched by their weight.  The claimed weight on Keen’s website is 561g.  They must have weighed a smaller size, because my 13′s weighed in at 606g (1lb 5.3oz) per shoe, or almost 2lbs 11oz for the pair.  In your hand, you really notice the weight.  On the bike or walking around, though, it never crossed my mind.   I suppose if you were riding or walking all day, it might wear on you, but for casual use…which is really the intended use for these shoes…it’s not really an issue.

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They also have a women’s version in “Dark Shadow / Beet Red” in full and half sizes from 6 to 11.  Men’s sizes range from 7 to 14, with half sizes up to 11.5.  MSRP is $130.00 USD, and they’re available for order on Keen’s website if you can’t find them at a local retailer.

Regarding the Aegis Microbe Shield, it’s an environmentally safe substance that’s bonded to the material, so you don’t have to worry about it leaching into your skin.  It creates a physically (rather than chemically) inhospitable environment for fungi and bacteria that cause odor.

LIKES:

  • Good styling
  • Sturdy construction
  • Easy to wear
  • Comfortable on the bike and for sitting around the office
  • Can walk around normally without SPD cleats scratching the floors
  • Tread is beefy enough that casual riders could use them for mountain biking, too

DISLIKES:

  • Wide fit may rub a little depending on your cranks and/or pedaling style)
  • Metatomical footbed may not appeal to all, though it seems less pronounced here than their walking shoes

AMBIVALENT NOTES:

  • Shoes might be a little warm during Summer, I haven’t had a really hot day to try them yet
  • Metatomical footbed is removable, so if you really like the styling but don’t like the big arch support, you could just stick a different insole in them

BIKERUMOR RATING:

When we were offered the opportunity to review these, I was skeptical given my uncomfortable experience with their walking shoes, but curious to see if they made any changes with their first foray into cycling footwear.  I’ll say this: They’re more comfortable than the walking shoes I tried, and it’s nice to have a pair of cycling-specific shoes (ie. clipless) that I can also wear in and out of stores, the office, the post office and restaurants without the walking-on-glass-in-high-heels sound and gait that typical road cycling shoes require, and they’re less grungy looking than low-end/hybrid mountain bike shoes.  I also took into consideration what else is available from competing brands, and there’s not a lot out there that looks nearly as good that’s built for city/casual/commuter riding. Considering the build quality, good looks and general comfort and efficiency when pedaling, I give them four Thumbs Up. Adjust your opinion up or down based on your own preference for Keen’s styling or fit.

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WHERE TO BUY:

If you can’t find them locally, JensonUSA has them in stock.

Comments

[...] to walk casually. From the looks of it, they’re probably very similar to the fully closed Springwater Pedal shoe we reviewed last [...]

doug hunt - 01/26/13 - 5:53pm

do these seem “wide” as in an “EE” type fit, someone recommended the keens as a wider fit spd shoe, and also the vans “warner” i am just looking for something to relieve some pressure on the toes do to the narrower type fit of most cycling shoes

thanks

doug hunt

Tyler (Editor) - 01/27/13 - 4:32pm

Doug – Not sure if they’re “EE” wide, but they have a good bit of room in them compared to cycling shoes or slimmer commuter shoes like those from DZR or Chrome.

John - 06/16/13 - 11:57pm

To prevent the shoes from contacting your crank, why not loosen the screws on the cleat and move the cleat laterally towards the crank side of the shoe and re-tighten them. This will put the shoe farther from the crank arms when engaged in the pedal.

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