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