Chrome Kursk SPD shoes >> $95 (low top); $110 (high top)
The lowdown: Cycling shoes dressed up like Chuck Taylors offering a good mix of performance, comfort, and style
Pros: SPD-compatible, Cordura upper, neat lace storage, stiff (but not too stiff) sole
Cons: Sizing is off by a full size; not suitable for long walks on the beach or a day spent on one’s feet
Commuting around town on flat pedals is usually not a problem; however, if your commute is upwards of 10 miles or more, you probably want to clip in to make decent time on your ride to work and avoid a 30-minute pedal mashing session.
Let’s face it, cycling shoes are, for the most part, pretty damn ugly and once you’re off the bike, they are up there with the best of the Inquisition torture devices.
To circumvent this problem, you have three options. You could carry an extra pair of shoes in your panniers or your messenger bag, you could leave a pair of shoes at your office, or you could pick up a pair of SPD-compatible Chrome Kursk Pro commuter shoes.
At first glance, these kicks look like a pair of all-black Converse Chuck Taylors that are trying really hard to be cycling shoes. But once you get them in your hands, and better yet on your feet, you can feel that they are actually more akin to a real cycling shoe that is dressed up like a Chuck.
The soles boast a full-length nylon shank plate, which provides excellent stiffness, but not to the point that you can’t walk — in fact, they have a rocker built in to the sole to ease walking.
And while they are not as comfy as a traditional board shoe or even a Converse All-Star, they are comfortable enough to walk around in for long while and with a recessed cleat, there’s no duck strutting or tap-dancing.
The details on the Kursk Pro are subtle and really smart. The shoe features a “lace garage,” which is a fancy way of saying there is an elastic catch for the laces so they don’t get caught in the chainrings. The laces are tipped with steel aglets so the ends don’t fray (brilliant). The upper is constructed of 1,000 Denier Cordura, which will hold up to just about anything; three months of daily abuse and they still look new. They look great with a pair of jeans or commuting trousers, too.
A caveat: if you can, try them on, because their sizing (as noted on Chrome’s website) is off from what you would normally wear. I typically wear a 10.5 U.S., but in the Kursk Pro I ride a size 9.5, which fits perfectly. So, order accordingly and try them on if you can.