Long Term Review: Teva Links Freeride Shoe

Long Term Review: Teva Links Freeride Shoe

Let’s face it, many shoes fresh out of the box feel like a million bucks – between that fresh shoe smell, the non-broken down padding, and clean looks it’s easy to have a love at first step kind of thing. However, the real test of a shoe comes once it has been on your feet for an extended period of time and put through your daily routine. There is a point with some of the products we get in for review, where they morph seamlessly from an item you have to use into part of your everyday life. At that point it’s safe to say the product designers did their homework. The Teva Links have turned out to be just such a product.

It turns out that not only are the Links a great shoe to push on your favorite flat pedals, but a solid companion for your off-the-bike adventures as well…

Long Term Review: Teva Links Freeride Shoe

Designed with legendary MTB pioneer Jeff Lenosky, the Links were Teva’s first entry into the world of mountain bike shoes and for a Freshman attempt, they pretty much nailed it. You can read all of the specs in our initial post linked above, though in a nutshell the Links were designed to grip a flat pedal perfectly and hold up to the beatings of street, park, dirt, and every other type of riding in between. At first I reserved the Links for riding my dirt jumper, as I have done with many pairs of shoes to keep every day wear-and-tear from ruining my favorite riding shoes. Soon though, I was taken by how comfortable the shoes are, likely due to the Mush-infused insoles, and I started wearing them as daily drivers (walkers?).

Eventually, I was wearing the Links on just about every outdoor adventure you could imagine. In my travels across the country, the Links have been there for rock climbing, hiking, white water rafting, trail running, snow and ice adventuring, and of course lots and lots of biking. While they are designed primarily for riding of the free kind, they make excellent shoes for riding any bike with flat pedals because, well, that’s what they’re designed for. After just about 2 years on the dot, the Links are starting to show the abuse, but have far outlasted just about any other shoe I’ve tried.

Long Term Review: Teva Links Freeride Shoe

Thanks to a combination of  the Teva Innovative Design Elements (T.I.D.E) designed tread pattern and their Spider365 rubber compound the bottoms of the Links have held up incredibly well. Typically the area that interfaces with the pedal is shredded to bits in short order thanks to the aggressive traction pins on my pedals (as well as my shins from back in the day). The rear of the pedal tread shows a bit of scarring from the pedals, but still shows the original pattern in a nod to the design which is supposed to interface with the pedal.

Looking at the tread pattern, you might think it would be hard to move your foot around on the pedal, yet it never proved to be an issue. Honestly, most of the tread wear on my Links is simply from walking and running in them. Also, note that thanks to the tread pattern, even as the sole wears from walking, the “pin pockets” remain until there is simply no material left. This helps to keep the shoes gripping the pedals until the shoe’s ultimate demise.

Long Term Review: Teva Links Freeride Shoe

There is no mistaking the Mush-infused insoles as new, you can almost read the play-by-play of my adventures by looking at the stains. As you can see by the foot print, I tend to throw these on pretty often without socks – which is still extremely comfortable in the Links. Even as broken down as the insoles appear, the shoes are still super comfy – I’m not giving them up any time soon. The condition of the insoles does bring up one of the few two negatives with the Links – when they get wet, they stay wet. Ok, we’re talking really wet – like completely submerged.

Thanks to the T.I.D.E. ion-mask and waterproof materials throughout the shoe, your foot will stay incredibly dry under anything but the craziest conditions – like white water rafting. Obviously, Teva has a whole line of shoes specifically designed for use in the river, but if you only have one pair of shoes handy, the Links work great – just plan on having wet shoes for a few days. Even after removing the insoles, stuffing the shoes with newspaper, and using the hotel hair dryer for hours, the Links were still damp the next day. I look at it as a small price to pay for shoes that will keep your feet dry the other 99% of the time. The waterproofing of the shoes also makes them easy to wash, simply spray down with a hose and hit with a brush if needed and they look almost good as new.

Long Term Review: Teva Links Freeride Shoe

Really, the only other complaint (if you can call it that) stems from the toe cap. The armored toe cap was designed with specific input from Lenosky who was tired of busting through the toe on other shoes. The issue is that if you ever have to stand in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, the dark rubber of the toe cap can get quite warm, roasting your toes in the process. The lighter colors like the new Charcoal Grey may improve on this, and I’m not sure I would want to give up the reinforced toe cap to prevent the issue so it’s really more of a commentary than a complaint.

Long Term Review: Teva Links Freeride Shoe

Somewhere along the line, the fabric covering the heel cups started tearing – though this is a reflection of my refusal to tie and untie my shoes (ain’t nobody got time fo dat!). As you can see from the photo, I almost always tie them somewhat loose and then slip them on and off, call it laziness, whatever, but it’s a habit. Even so, the heel cups have held up better than most of my shoes which suffer the same fate.

In the end, the Links are an awesome choice for someone looking for a dedicated riding shoe, and maybe an even better shoe for someone looking for something extremely versatile.

Highs:

  • Ridiculously comfortable
  • Great grip on the pedals without being overly grippy
  • Super durable sole
  • Soften hard landings nicely
  • Extremely versatile – both off the bike and on
  • Waterproof

Lows:

  • Can be difficult to dry out when 100% saturated
  • Toe cap can get hot when standing in direct sunlight for extended periods

 

Comments

Patrick - 04/09/13 - 9:41am

I think the one reservation I have about Teva’s is everyone says “they are great because they aren’t overly grippy”. I can understand that for some types of riding, but I WANT overly grippy… that was the whole idea with the shoes (5.10′s) I buy now. I don’t know if it is the niche that Teva wants to occupy, but until they come out with something that has the outright grip of 5.10′s sole I will stick with what I have (no pun intended…).

Jim Rawson - 04/09/13 - 9:55am

These are the best shoes

Jim Rawson - 04/09/13 - 9:58am

These are by far the best shoes I have ever owned! I use these for riding and casual wear and they still look new.

I have the lighter color blue/gray/yellow pair and they seem to resist stains and tears.

JR

Zach Overholt - 04/09/13 - 10:30am

@Patrick, the extreme grip of the 5.10s is great for DH riding. When I rode mine for street or park, I would want to make small adjustments to my foot placement and you would have to lift your foot off the pedal and place it back down, rather than just sliding it to the right spot. Admittedly I haven’t used some of the newest 5.10 freeride models, but with the Links I never had issues with keeping my feet on the pedals, yet they weren’t overly grippy. Make sense? By all means, stick with what works for you – with Teva added to the mix we simply have more great options!

satisFACTORYrider - 04/09/13 - 11:30am

you can’t really compare the links to the impacts. the tevas lend themselves to basically more of a “jump” shoe like the vans shovel or shimano am40 with vibram soles. you don’t want flypaper grip with flats when your riding style need your feet to adjust.

Patrick - 04/10/13 - 10:00am

@Zach,

I can totally understand that for some types of riding. I was just commenting on mine. If/when I get into street riding I will probably change equipment and opinion. I by no means want Teva to go away, but I do wish they made a shoe with a super sticky sole so I could have another option.

Toloy K - 04/25/13 - 11:55pm

Awesome shoe. Has been the main shoe for daily rides to work and other outdoor activities. Capable alk rounder shoe. Doesn’t get soaked easily during heavy rain riding days (I live in tropical climate). But your feet tend to get warm from where I live if worn for extended hours though.

ride more bikes - 04/28/13 - 9:35pm

Pretty much exactly what I think of these shoes. Nice review man. I had the same problem with the heels wearing out, but all in all they are sweet kicks for non-race riding.

nurse ben - 09/07/13 - 4:49pm

I agree, the Links last like no other riding shoe, in fact they outlast many good hiking boots! Great all around shoe for flat pedals, not a hike and bike shoe per se, but only because the tread is not aggressive enough for hiking in cruddy conditions. The tread is not as sticky as Five Ten, BUT, if you ride a pinned pedal, then sticky is really not what you want. If you want a shoe that will stick to a non pinned pedal, get some Five Ten Freerides. If you want a long lasting shoe for riding pinned pedals or for casual kicking around, and one that maintains it’s performance over the long term, get the Lninks.

Andrew - 01/26/14 - 6:32pm

This shoe is amazing. I run them with dmr vaults and its a pretty flawless combination for any trail, jumping, freeride you might do. My only complaint is in muddy conditions the padded skate style ankle area catches a lot of the mud coming off the rear tire. That said, there’s probably not a lot of ways to fix this without changing the casual easy on/off nature of the shoe.

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.