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On Test: Austin bike shoes by Keen Footwear

Posted by on March 18th, 2010 at 10:13 am

On Test- Austin shoes by Keen Footwear-1
(Photos © J. Maus)

Portland’s bike-friendly vibe continues to wear off on Keen Footwear. When they moved their corporate headquarters here in 2006, they wasted no time in putting bikes in their product catalog. Two years later, they promised to expand their cycling-oriented product line.

They’ve kept their promise.

They started by putting an SPD-compatible sole on their well-known sandal design. Then they came out with a closed-toe, cleated bike shoe dubbed the “Springwater“. Now they’ve added two more models to their “Pedal” line — the “Coronado Cruiser” and the “Austin“.

I’m currently wearing a pair of Austins (which, for the record, were given to me free of charge by a Keen rep).

On Test- Austin shoes by Keen Footwear-2
On Test- Austin shoes by Keen Footwear-4

I go back and forth between using cleated pedals and big platforms on my daily commuter bike. I like the efficiency (and option to go fast when I want to) SPDs give me. Also, I’m constantly on my bike and going in and out of meetings of varying formality, so I like to wear something a bit more classy than tennis shoes. Also, waterproof material is key for me.

On Test- Austin shoes by Keen Footwear-3

The Austin delivers on many of those fronts. I’ve been wearing them a week and so far I’m pretty impressed. The shoes are very well-made, they’ve got a stiff, yet comfortable sole and insole, and they look pretty sharp. The SPD cleat is nice and recessed and I only know it’s there when I stomp into my pedals.

The Austin retails for $100. More info on Keen’s website. Also, check out the full review of the Keen Springwater we published in February 2009.

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Comments
  • t.a. barnhart March 18, 2010 at 10:36 am

    my 1st pair of (non-bike shoe) Keens were great for bicycling. my 2nd pair (also just regular), which look a lot like the Austin, are awful: water just slides up & in thru the tongue. very disappointing. but i like the looks of the Austin & may give them a try; i don’t have any bike shoes & would like to gain that efficiency — especially when i’m forced to schlep my out-of-shape but up to NoPo and other distant locales.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 18, 2010 at 10:44 am

      t.a.,

      it’s interesting you mention the water issue. I totally agree. I actually gave detailed feedback to Keen saying they should come out with a boot specifically for that reason. I won’t wear a low-top shoe in real rain– waterproof boots are key. It’d be neat if Keen did a boot version of the Austin.

      Also, for the record, I added a line to this story saying that I did not pay for these shoes.

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  • Joe March 18, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I have a pair of Coronado Cruisers.

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  • Nick V March 18, 2010 at 10:57 am

    So you can walk around in them and not have the cleat clicking or scratching the floor/ground? WANT!!!

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  • Joe March 18, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I think a mid-shoe, not full boot would be nice. also just for the record i wear ski socks if real wet outside. * stayed dry *
    (my socks are not super thick tho)

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  • Spiffy March 18, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I saw these in REI a couple days ago… they caught my eye because I was wearing normal Austins and was in there looking for replacements since mine are worn down…

    of course I thought they were awesome… however, I’m just a casual cyclist and don’t go the route of special shoes for cycling…

    one concern I had about these recessed styles is the amount of wear you can put on the shoe before the cleats start dragging… I’ve worn my current Austins smooth on the bottom… but given that you won’t be using them as primary shoes they should last quite a while…

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  • Dann March 18, 2010 at 11:30 am

    It is tough to find a good looking shoe that doubles as a bike friendly shoe. The pics of this shoe look good. On the waterproof note, a good alternative to wearing boots is an ankle gaitor found here: http://thesocksite.com/waterproof-ankle-gaiters-p-590.html. I currently ride with the Vasque VST with Gore-Tex and use toe clips. These shoes look like they could win me over to SPD’s.

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  • She March 18, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I have the sandals and they have always scratch and grind on the ground when I walk. That was a huge disappointment to me. I ride with Crank Bros. Eggbeater clips and pedals, I am not sure if that makes a difference. I have not worn my sandals for a while but the weather is getting better for riding with them…

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  • Logan March 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Great review! Interesting to note the serendipity in timing. Keen must be a great brand for cycling shoes because Russ Roca also just published a supportive review on the sandal model today. http://epicureancyclist.com/?p=1028

    Cheers,
    Logan.

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  • kenny March 19, 2010 at 8:15 am

    I have shared the same concerns as t.a. with my normal Keens. The tongue is simply ineffective at keeping the wet out of my shoe.

    It is also hard to keep both shoes looking the same with the way the laces cover the wide middle location. One shoe always looks wider than the other shoe.

    Pros: Comfy and Made well.

    In the wet, the best less hokey compromise for every day commuting so far that I have discovered is the Caradice Rain Spats from City Bikes.

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  • @bostonoutdoor March 26, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Nice smartwools!

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