A recent trip to some pedal heavy trails got me back on my clipless setup. I had almost forgotten the benefits. Pedaling strength and precise control make for a strong argument. But then, there is that one huge downside to my low profile cleats. They suck when off the bike. So I took a look into the market to see if there was a way to have my cake and eat it too, and apparently there is a work around, at a price… until I found the Van’s Warner SPD, and let me tell you, this cake is something.
I had two things going for me, a Memorial Day road trip and a girlfriend willing to drive. This translated to a little smart phone shopping and half an hour later, I was circling the buy now button for the Van’s Warner SPDs.
Side note- Sorry to all of the LBS folks out there, I literally just got back from paying the LBS my tithing.
So, I waited by my door for the next week or so, and finally, with a quick toss by the delivery man, I had my new kicks.
As expected, they were relatively heavy. A bmx/mountain bike inspired shoe, they fit just like a pair of… well, Van’s. I was happy with their snug but comfortable nature and immediately reached for my screw driver, razor blade and cleats. Yes you read that correctly- razor blade. In the picture above the area that connects your cleats must be cut out. A few slices and a little work and it was time to take them for a test run.
Now I have to admit. It is pretty regular for me to spend a good section of my uphill hiking my bike. As I mentioned before, one of the most important reasons the Warner’s interested me was the hike-ability of the clipless shoe.
I hit the trail, the shoes felt solid, not as pedal friendly as my traditional clipless shoes, but much more comfortable. A little ways into the ride, I faced my first true test for the Warners. A nasty climb notably described as the Widow Maker, which I made all of 50% of the way to the top. I popped off my bike and started to hike. This is where I found tremendous value in the Van’s SPDs. They gripped like my non clipless shoes on the hike up. From there I was truly sold. I had all of the positives of riding clips, without the negatives (most of them anyways).
The Warner SPD is a complete shoe. It is stiff, comfortable, hike-able, and pedal-able. I strongly recommend it for anyone looking to go somewhere in between a traditional clipless shoe and flats. It will lack the efficiency of a normal cleat, but hike like a shoe meant for flats.
Big Plus– I was able to wear them into the store to pick up some frosty cold ones after my ride and didn’t have to change my shoes. Cheers!