Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Keen SPD Sandals: Follow Up

Three months ago, I reviewed my initial impressions of the Keen SPD Sandal. That post has generated a bunch of traffic and comments, so I figured it was worth a follow up.

The bottom line on these sandals: I will not be buying another pair of these sandals until Keen fixes two main issues:
1. Width

2. Durability

The width is too small. E-mails to Keen on this issue will get a canned reply about how bike shoes need to be narrow and that's how the world works. Reading some bike lists (iBob, bentrideronline, etc) or look at the comments on my original post and you'll find plenty of people who say this sandal is just too narrow.

Looking at the sandal as it clips into my pedal, it's clear there is a good 1/2 inch of space to work with before it starts rubbing on the crank. The Shimano sandal is nearly a full centimeter wider at the widest part of the sole (~102 mm to ~111 mm). It would be interesting to measure the widest part of a Lake winter boot. My guess is that it's pushing 115 mm or maybe even 120 mm. The point is: there's room to grow here without rubbing on the crank.

I think cyclist that wear a sandal, generally, wear a sandal because they value comfort and versatility over speed/performance. I think Keen should recognize that and build an SPD sandal from their normal sandal footbed. That's what most people are expecting when they think of Keen sandals. That's what I was expecting.

This has been a huge disappointment for me. I wear shoes hard. I wore my Shimano SPD sandals every day for a couple years. They failed eventually, but it took about a year before I saw actual failure. In the first couple weeks I had this failure on my Keens:

A chunk of the sole, from the tip of the toe box peeled off. I tried Sho-Goo'ing it but it didn't hold so I had to chop it off.
To Keen's credit, they were quick to offer a replacement pair of sandals. So that's good. The bummer is that I wouldn't get a replacement for 3 months (they are due "in May" -- I've not gotten a replacement yet). So it's cool that they fessed up and will replace them, but come on, with a $110 retail cost, waiting 3 months for a single pair of replacements, is cheesy. They are clearly putting me behind the queue of the retail outlets. I'm not feeling the love here.
If that was the only failure, I'd be sort of ok with it -- even with the slowboat replacement policy. But after two and a half months I started to see stitching coming undone around the heel strap on the left sandal:

As I said, I'm hard on shoes. Which only means I wear them daily. Again, I think Keen needs to better understand the users of their SPD sandals. They're comfortable shoes; I love walking in them. When I wear my Shimanos now, I feel like Frankenstein clumping around in them. My bike is a part of my day. I will not buy an SPD shoe/sandal that doesn't work with my daily life. My goal is to wear the same shoes/sandals all day so that when I hop on my bike, I don't need to change. This means they need to be built for daily use.
In my opinion, the v1 Keens are not there yet. I'll wear these until my replacements come. Then I'll wear my replacements until I kill them, because they are damn comfy. If it turns out that I just got a bum pair and the second pair last forever, I'll post about it here. Otherwise, when they die, I'll go back to my Shimanos and wait for the wider, more durable version.


Mark said...

The shoe repair shop nest to Gordy's has a product that he uses to repair things like hip waders that need to remain flexible. I used it on a pair of shoes that split along the sole and it lasted a long time. Shoe Goo is too hard.

Grendel said...

My size 9 equivalent Lakes measured 113mm. Note they are three years old so may be narrower than the current product.

Bujiatang said...

I bought a pair of Keen sandals at the Nordstrom Rack in the Mall of America about a year ago for like 40 bucks. I wore them whenever I wasn't at work (it is only just now getting warm enough to bike in anything but shoes (thats right just shoes)), and they smell terrible. I cannot get the smell to go away washing them.

But they are great for biking because the stiff sole locks in nicely with my basic basic mks platform pedals.

sorry your sandals fell apart though.

michael said...

I tried a pair on and they were too narrow for me. Funny that my wider Cannondale shoes don't have an issue with rubbing the crank.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Those things look like you were doing a Fred Flintstone stop. I took your advice on the Keens and bought a pair of H2's. I didn't get the SPD's because I couldn't justify paying $120 on sandals. But I like the H2's. I like the toebox. We'll see how long these last. But I think they'll hold up OK. That's the thing about biking specific stuff. Most of it doesn't last very long. You pay for something and you expect it to last for a couple of years. But I notice alot of Bike stuff barely last a year of everyday use.

Harry said...

So sad.. I always believe in quality,comfy and durable sandals.

Richard Silver said...

Regarding the shoe hitting the crank, I have put a washer (about 3 mm) on the pedal and this seems to work.