When it comes to bike specific flat pedal shoes, the choice is limited, even though our poll suggested that half of Pinkbike users are flat pedal pinners, 25% always clip in and another 25% ride both ways. The same poll also showed FiveTen have an overwhelming stranglehold on the shoe market, so that leaves space for other brands to get involved, and that's where Afton want to step in.
Based in San Diego, California, Afton will be offering two shoe models that should be available in September. The Keegan is a flat pedal shoe, and the Vectal is designed for clip in use. The shoes should be hitting the shelves Worldwide in September, priced at €99.99 and €119.99.
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They may look like skate shoes, but chatting to owner and designer TJ, at Crankworx in Les Gets, there are some interesting features hidden inside these bike focused foot pieces. The footbed of the shoe uses an injection molded, monodirectional nylon shank. This means that it flexes on way more than the other, my brain couldn't work it out either. This should allow the rider to walk comfortably, but when pushing downwards on the pedal, it should stop the foot bending over the pedal, increase power transfer and help to reduce and absorb impacts.
The shoes feature nylon reinforced protection in the toe and heel, but also keep a low profile. The memory foam insole is extra thick at 7mm under the heel, this is partly for comfort, and partly for bigfoots out there who can create more space inside the shoe by replacing it with a thinner insole. There are also vents and antimicrobial materials that should help keep the back of mountain bikers vans smelling fresh, but unlikely.
The big question when it comes to flat shoes is the sole rubber compound. FiveTen are still way ahead of the game when it comes to pure grip, but this can come at the cost of durability. The Afton uses their own 60a compound rubber called 'Intact' that they admit is not as soft as some of their competitors, but is developed to give the shoes a long life against sharp, shredding pins but will still grip well.
The Vectal uses laces and a velcro strap for fit.
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Afton Vectal Details • Intended use: trail / mountain biking • Added heel and toe flexibility • 35mm cleat range • 60a compound IntactTM rubber • Reinforced toe and heel protection • MSRP: $119.99 / €119.99 • Available: September 2017 • aftonshoes.com
For those in the clipless minority, there is also an option with similar styling and shape to the Keegan. The shank is designed for added flexibility and is tapered towards the toe and heel, this should help with walking and general comfort. The cleat area is oversized and tapered all around to help connect with the pedals without snagging. Cleats can be adjusted by 35mm front to rear and have raised 'traction bars' to grip the cleats and help with alignment.
The heel and toe shares similar built-in protection to the Keegan, but the Vectal gains a dorsal strap for fit and security if you pull up when pedaling.
The tapered shank should help with comfort and flexibility.