If you're a frequent all-weather cyclist you'll know that having wet feet can really put a dampener on your journey - no pun intended. Staff rider David decided enough was enough and invested in some new mountain bike shoes for those wet and windy winter rides. David opted for the Specialized Defroster 2013 shoes. Read on for David's verdict...
Well it's that time of year when the weather is about as predictable as next week's winning lottery numbers and no matter how much I plan for a weekend morning's mountain bike ride, the only thing I can guarantee is that I'll come back and complain as to how wet or cold my feet are.
I've tried wrestling with myself to get overshoes on, which once on are usually okay for keeping the splashes of small puddles at bay, but I've been riding a lot in a very muddy Warwickshire recently and the 'small puddles' description isn't accurate when describing some of the water we've been pedalling through.
As I'm approaching my 40th birthday, I thought that I'd best start looking after my limbs a bit better. I decided that a good pair of winter cycling shoes were going to be my next purchase. It would be nice to be able to go out on a Saturday and still have the opportunity to use the same shoes on the Sunday - a luxury I haven't had recently as my cycling shoes have usually still been drying out well into the week!
After much pondering, I opted for the Specialized Defroster Shoes SPD shoes rather than the Shimano MW81's (also SPDs). We have both in our stores and online but the defroster has a slightly cheaper RRP. The deciding feature was the fold-over flap on the Defroster shoes that covers the full front of the shoes, just leaving the BOA wheel on the side exposed, as opposed to the 3 velcro straps on the Shimano MW81's that sit over the top therefore making them more difficult to clean in my opinion.
As both our Whitwell and Grafham stores had stock of them it was easy to obtain a pair and, from past experience of cycling shoes, I took the chance and ordered a size bigger than my normal shoe size which was the right choice as they're a snug fit. Out of the box they look a bit like Darth Vadar's boots and I did think �this'll be fun trying get my feet into them� but once you have loosened the ankle strap and slackened off the BOA lace system (full instructions are included in the box which helped if you're not familiar with this set up) it's quite simple, much to my wife's amusement as I had tried to squeeze my ankle in without undoing the strap first! I noted that there's also a very convenient loop on the back of each one to help you pull them on, this is a new feature on the 2013 model and I can't imagine the fun involved trying to get them on without it. Once on I was quite pleased with how good they looked at this point but this was prior to leaving the house and entering the mud!
On the first outing it was a typical miserable morning. Although wasn't raining, it had tipped it down the day before so I knew that the trail we had been using would be caked in thick, sticky mud with huge, trail-width deep puddles that you couldn't avoid, often not knowing how deep or what lay beneath...and boy was I not wrong. Feeling quite cocky in my waterproof and warm new boots I was flying through puddles galore, much to the annoyance of my two cycling buddies and also me when I got home to try and find my Cannondale bike under the dirt it had accumulated. My feet stayed dry despite the amount of water and dirt the puddles had thrown at me. I had expected to get home after 3 hours and have to wring my cycling socks out, as per my normal shoes, but this time my feet were dry. The right shoe was mildly damp near the ankle strap that I hadn't pulled quite tight enough. This failure I'm assuming was mine and not of the actual shoe.
Okay, these shoes would appear to be a bit pricey, but when you consider the abuse that these shoes will experience at the expense of your feet, it makes parting with the £129.99 RRP that bit easier. I'm the company's Warranty Manager, and I have to say if we only sold these shoes I'd be out of a job as they performed flawlessly.
If you value your feet as much as your beloved bike and all the shiny bits that hang off it, then I fully recommend these shoes. My only criticism is that the flap that pulls over the front of the shoe is quite difficult to manage - I would assume this will get easier with use as it stretches to shape - I also wish the shoes would clean themselves, but I might be being a bit picky now!
I'd rate these as a 4 out of 5 based on their maiden voyage (I would rate a 5 if the cover on the shoe didn't provide such a battle) - here's hoping I'm this happy in a few months' time, once I've tested my SPD cycling shoes through the range of elements the Great British winter will undoubtedly throw at me and my steed!