The Casual Clipless SPD Shoe Review: Mission Workshop’s Rondel vs. Chrome’s Kursk Pro
Let me start by stating that I hate toe cages and straps. However, I also hate changing my shoes when I get to work. I have been keeping my eye out for just the right shoe that can do it all. A shoe that allows me to clip in on my commutes, but is also comfortable enough to wear around the office all day long. This search ended with two pair of shoes in my possession. The first being the Mission Workshops Rondel, and the second being the Chrome Kursk Pro. I have been wearing both for a few months now, and past the break you will find out just how they perform on and off the bike.
The Mission Workshop Rondel was a limited edition shoe made for the shop by DZR. While there are only a few size 47′s left, I am continuing on with this review because this shoe is very similar to others by DZR. All the DZR shoes run a very similar (if not exactly the same) sole, and should be very comparable to the Rondel. With that said, the Rondel has a full-grain leather upper that has worn in nicely. The laces, while ridiculously long, can be tucked under a piece of elastic at the base of the tongue. Around the back there is a 600 luminosity reflective heel badge for night visibility. Underneath you will find the DZR sole. There is a standard two-bolt cleat mount with the same adjustability you would find on any mountain shoe, and hidden beneath that rubber is a variable-flex nylon inner shank to aid in power transfer. While the Rondel is only available in a size 47 for a reduced price of $80, you can have a similar DZR shoe (the District or GMT-8) for $85.
Chrome has been making cycling oriented shoes for a while now, and most recently they have created a SPD-compatible version of their popular Kursk shoe, called the Kursk Pro. The upper is made of 1,000 denier Corduar, like many of their bags, and has a rubber toe. The shoe has a low profile design. Midway down the tongue you will find an elastic band to keep the laces out of your chain. On the flip side, the shoe has a bright red sole with a two-bolt cleat mount. The sole on the Kursk Pro contains a full length nylon plate to keep the power moving through to the road. Note: the non SPD Kursk only has a 3/4 length nylon shank midsole. The Kursk Pro is designed with a built-in fore foot rocker for added comfort and ease of walking. The Kursk Pro from Chrome runs $95.
Cleat Set Up:
The section of rubber above the cleat mount on the Rondel was scored, but not perforated. I had to use a utility knife to cut out the rubber patch, and to be honest, it was pretty hard to remove. It took me the better part of 20 minutes to remove the section on both shoes, and bolt up cleats. Once on, I had to move the cleats back almost all the way, as well as push them all the way over to one side so the shoe so it didn’t rub on the crank arm.
The Kursk Pro’s came with the rubber patch already off, and a replacement section bolted on in its place (incase you don’t want to install cleats). Setting up my Crank Brothers cleats on the Kursk Pro’s was very simple. I removed two bolts, placed the cleat on the shoe, and replaced two bolts. I was done in about five minutes for the pair. As with the Rondel’s the cleats are pushed all the way out to one side, but they are in more of the middle of the adjust range fore and aft.
Performance on the Bike:
When it comes to stiffness, the Rondel feels like a slightly stiffer street shoe. It is not a go to shoe for a super long ride, but will do for a short commute to work. With that being said, I put in 40 miles the other day on a Sunday Parkways ride with some friends and my feet were just fine at the end. We had lots of stops along the way though, and without those I have a feeling my dogs would have been barking something fierce. Clipping in is no problem, and with the cleats adjusted properly, I have no crank arm rub.
The Kursk Pro’s are more akin to the mountain shoes they have replaced in my closet. These things are definitely stiff. On the bike they are great. Leaving from a green light, the shoe really lets you transfer the power to the road. I would have no problem grabbing these shoes and heading out for a 20 plus mile ride.
Performance Off the Bike:
On the bike, the Rondel is a good enough shoe. It gets me through my daily commute no problem, and running errands around town is no trouble either. Off the bike however, is really were this shoe shines. The sole is flexible enough so that the shoe is comfortable to stay in all day. While I am chained to a computer and off my feet most of the day at work, I have had success in wearing the Rondel for several hours walking around a trade show, or working on bikes at a friends house. I even find that I myself wearing this shoe out when I am not taking the bike. I don’t find that the shoe as any heel slip, and the sole is flexible enough to allow for all day comfort. When walking, I do find that the cleat rubs the ground a bit on concrete, blacktop, or other slightly uneven hard surfaces. However, it isn’t very noticeable, and on carpet or other soft surfaces I don’t notice it at all. And while the cleat does make contact on harder surfaces, it does not make the click clack sound like a road specific shoe would. As far as sizing goes, the Rondel (and I assume other DZR models) run the same as my regular street shoe. I ended up with an 11 (Euro 45).
While the Kursk Pro is great on the bike, its off the bike performance suffers a bit due to all that stiffness. The problem I have run into is that the heel cup doesn’t seem to come up enough for my foot. That, combined with the stiffness offered up by the full length nylon shaft, leads to the shoe slipping on the back of my heel. As I take a step, about half way through the motion, where the sole should flex, it doesn’t, causing it to pull the heel down a bit. I have a feeling the built-in foot rocker is supposed to elevate this slipping, but for me and my foot, it did not. Your millage may very however, as there are many favorable reviews of this shoe on Chrome’s website. It may just be that I have an oddly shaped foot. Off the bike, I can run into the store for a few things, or lock the bike up and go grab some food, but I am simply not able to wear the Kursk Pro all day like I can with the Rondel. The recessed cleat on the Kursk Pro does not hit the ground when walking, unlike the Rondel. And as far as sizing goes, be forewarned that they run a bit on the large size. After trying on a few different sizes, I ended up with a 10 1/2. Others I know who own this shoe have reported needing one whole size smaller however. My advise would be to find a shop that has them in stock so you can try them on first.
In my search for that perfect, do-it-all shoe, I have found two good contenders. Out of those two, the winner for me is the DZR made Rondel. The off the bike performance is really want i need. My commute is short enough that the lack of stiffness isn’t as big a deal to me. For those with a longer commute, the Kursk Pro may be the way to go. If the Kursk Pro heel cup came up just a bit more, I have a feeling it would be a much closer call. Minus the heel slipping, I do like the shoe. As luck would have it, Chrome is planning a version of their taller Midway with an SPD compatible sole, which should resolve my main complaint about the shoe. If and when the Midway Pro becomes available, you can count on a review shortly their after.