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Clothesline Review: Keen Austin Pedal shoes

  • By Caley Fretz
  • Published Oct. 12, 2010
  • Updated Feb. 8, 2011 at 7:06 AM EDT

Clipped in and ready for a coffee run

As someone who likes to ride his bike whenever possible, I’ve long sought a comfortable, stylish, and efficient pair of clipless-compatible shoes. Something that I can feel just as content propping up on a coffee table, espresso in hand, as hitting the road for my commute. I want to run to the bank, grab some groceries, or simply cruise downtown without the ever-present clickety-clack of metal cleats beneath my feet. In the Keen Austin Pedal, I may have found that very shoe.

Keen’s leather Austin is the most formal in its ‘Pedal’ line of SPD-compatible shoes, making it equally at home on the bike, at the office, or on the sidelines of a weekend ‘cross race (as we featured them in the November issue VeloNews USGP Cyclocross Guide).

Keen Austin Pedal commute shoes

MSRP: $120
The Scoop: Stylish, functional clipless-compatible footwear at home, on the bike, or at the coffee shop
Pros: Fully recessed cleat, durable toe bumper, large toe box
Cons: Feel a bit heavy

The Austin Pedal uses the same waterproof, earth-tone leather uppers and classic Oxford lacing as its cleat-less brother, but includes a fully recessed hole in the somewhat-stiff rubber sole for a two-bolt cleat.

Keen’s classic fit, notable for a roomy toe box and good arch support, is maintained on their SPD-compatible line. In fact, I found the Austins to be some of the most comfortable in my (admittedly small) collection of work-worthy footwear.

A major concern in dual-purpose shoes like the Austin Pedal is the tradeoff between a comfortable, flexible walking shoe and a stiff sole for pedaling efficiency. The Austin is quite obviously designed with walking as a priority; spending all day wandering around the VeloNews office is as comfortable as any of my other work shoes.

That doesn’t mean that they’re uncomfortable on the bike, though. The sole is still stiffer than average, striking a good balance between efficient pedaling and flexibility for comfortable walking. I wouldn’t want to head out on one of our heated lunch rides in them, but for riding to and from work they’re perfect. The sole rubber is a relatively hard compound, making them a bit slippery when not clipped in. Durability seems to be good thus far, but without many more months of use a real evaluation is impossible.

The cleat itself is moved towards the inside of the foot, presumably in an effort to keep lose pant legs from getting caught. With a significant portion of the foot sitting outside of the pedal body itself, pedaling sensations are a bit odd at first. But after a few days commuting, I no longer noticed it.

Price is somewhat steep, but seems to be on par with material and build quality. And, really, the Austin Pedal is two shoes for the price of one, making them a pretty good bargain.

FILED UNDER: Bikes and Tech / Clothesline / Reviews TAGS:

Caley Fretz

Caley Fretz

Tech Editor Caley Fretz can usually be found chasing races along the backroads of Europe or testing bikes and gear in the mountains outside Boulder, Colorado. If you can't find him there, check the coffee shop across from VN World Headquarters.

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