If you told me I’d be wearing Vans again after a 28 year hiatus, I’d say that would be a slim to none chance. But, as circumstance would have it, here I am writing about a pair of shoes by a brand that kick stated my love for bikes oh so long ago.
Product Tested: Vans Warner SPD Shoes. Size Mens 8.5
Materials: Synthetic leather uppers and rubber waffle soles
Lining: EVA Foam
Weight: 2 lbs 6 oz with cleats
Recommended Use: BMX / AM / DH
Retail Price: $94.95
At first glance, the Warner SPD look like any classic pair of skate shoes– flip em over and that’s further reinforced by the use of the famous waffle vulcanized soles, but those skate shoe similarities stop when you attach a set of cleats and throw them on for a ride.
What I noticed right away is how easy it is to clip in. The wide cleat channels and the lack of spikes or fancy protrusions make it easy to engage and lock into the pedal. Once in, things feel firm and tight. The shoe body has a comfortable firmness I was use to from all my years of riding in Five10 shoes. The sole is stiff enough to provide the support you’d want for pedaling and flexible enough for those hike a bikes where you’d hardly notice the cleats striking as you walk. A bonus is that you can actually drive with them and leave them on if you happen to be meeting up for a post-ride pint at the local dive.
The Warners run a 1/2 size smaller than your standard sports shoe. They do provide a nice laced-up shoe feel without the pressure points I’ve noticed on traditional clip shoes. The velcro strap comes in handy for holding down those laces once tied but that’s about all they’re good for (and are removable as an option). The padded tongue floats freely and sits in place once everything is cinched up.
The construction of these shoes are very similar to any of their skate/bike shoes — very straight-forward and honest. Wear and tear on these would be similar to their skate shoes because the materials are similar. I imagine you can get through a solid season with these and have no worries as they have proven themselves on top UCI downhill courses.
GOOD: Classic skate inspired looks. Comfortable, firm and supportive. Easy pedal engagement. Soles are stiff for pedaling with enough flex for hike a bikes. Could be used for flat pedals as an option.
BAD: Ventilation would be an issue for long rides. Exposed laces could break down over time.
Reviewed by Qwan Pham