Readying the Springtime Gear: Keen Commuter Cycling Sandals

While lots of people laud the greatness of flat pedals, I’m not normally a flat pedals person. I love riding with SPD pedals. The bright snap they make as I clip in, pulling up on the pedal stroke, and the little tick on the pavement when I dismount and walk purposefully to my final destination. I love it.

Usually I wear Sidi’s as my cycling footwear of choice, but when it comes to spring and warm summer days, I like to wear more ventilated shoes. Otherwise, my feet get SO HOT!

Last summer, I picked up a pair of the Keen Commuter Cycling Sandals and have since been using them regularly as my spring and summer commuting footwear.

The Quickbeam and Keen Commuters

I slip the Keen’s on, and a tightening “buckle” locks the laces into place. There is no tying of these laces, just cinch them down and go.

Pros: Ventilated, comfortable, easy to walk around and do errands off the bike, still make that cool clicking noise that cycling cleats do, quick to go on the feet, no shoelace tying. This last one is especially important, since no one ever taught me to tie my shoes. KIDDING! Just making sure you were paying attention.

Keen Commuters

Cons: Laces seem to uncinch a tad while riding, and they are not as narrow in the heel as I would like. Another con is that, since I don’t always wear my Keens with socks, they are developing some foot funk. This is important for you to know should you happen to run into see me when I’m wearing them. In addition, it takes a little more oomph to unclip with the Keen’s as opposed to my Sidi’s. Nothing unmanageable (or I’d return them), but noticeable.

Soles of the Keen Commuters

Verdict: They’re pretty good. I think, overall, they work ideally for people with slightly wider feet than mine (or at least wider in the heel). However, I love the Keen Commuters for days when I know I will be doing a lot of on and off the bike activity. The Keens may not be the best cycling-specific shoes I have ever owned, but they are the best spring and summer commuting shoes I’ve had.

I would only use the Keen’s for 50-mile rides or less, but I know one person that rode them last year at Paris-Brest-Paris. 1240K in Keens… it’s true!

Anybody out there also using the Keens or have other suggestions for some good cycling-specific commuter shoes? The comment line is open!

17 thoughts on “Readying the Springtime Gear: Keen Commuter Cycling Sandals”

  1. You may recall I asked the DCRand list for feedback on sandals last year. I settled on bike nashbar and were I to write a review, it would be similar to yours above. Very comfortable on and off the bike, but they are not as stiff as riding shoes so serious climbing is not an option. I’ve done flat centuries in them, including SPP’s recent ride to OC. Awesome as commuters and for short club rides.

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  2. I have weird feet. My toes are disproportionately long. Because of this, I can’t wear Birkenstocks or Keens. They have that little ridge that’s supposed to go just behind the toes. For me, that ridge ends up right underneath them and it hurts. That’s a shame, because I like the way the rest of the Keens footbed is made.

    For clickety pedals, I like the low-end Shimano MTB/touring shoes. But I really like sneaker pedals with lots of surface area and a well-loved pair of Chucks. Or sandals. With socks.

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  3. I love my (non-cycling) keen sandals but also suffered from ‘foot funk’. When I went to get ‘around town and commuting’ cycling shoes I picked up a set of the Keen Springwaters b/c I wanted something year-round and also because I didn’t want to wear socks with sandals. They’re so easy to walk around in sometimes I forget to change out of them at the office.

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  4. I’ve been using Keen cycling sandals as my primary (only!) cycling shoe for 3+ years now, still looking great too. Seen everything from commuting to a 200k brevet to a weekly time trial series. I like being able to easily adjust how tight they are while I’m riding along.

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  5. I’ve found purell works well to combat foot funk in Danskos. I would think that those would give you wicked tan lines in a hurry if you forgot to use sunblock, which i never remember to put on my feet.

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  6. I wore my Keens on my 600k last June. Just pulled them back out (colder here on the upper left coast), and they seem soft. Granted, they are several years old, but it might be time to replace them.

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  7. I wear keen newports pretty much all summer. My personal theory about keens is that since most shoe stores stopped carrying wide sizes, keen stepped in to make shoes that fit as a wide but aren’t labeled as such.

    As far as foot funk goes, a scrubbing with mild soap works for cleaning, a few hours in the freezer in a plastic bag kills most shoe stink. A trick I learned from my cousin who ran steeplechase races.

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  8. I have a pair I commute in and joined a Tuesday night ride once, but nothing long yet. They seem a little flexy for that. Funny you say they are wide, I thought they were narrow!

    A lot of people like the Shimanos, wonder how they compare?

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  9. I use the two-strap Shimano SPD sandals. They’re extremely comfortable, and in spite of me being generally susceptible to foot-funk, I’ve never had a problem with them. The only downside is that while they don’t have a toe-box, they are REALLY long for a given size – enough that I risk getting toe-strike on my fender when turning. But since I ride a very small frame ( for a guy ), I’m accustomed to that.

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    1. Interesting. I used to have a pair of the three-strap, but found them too heavy. Was wondering about how they compared to the two-strap Shimano sandals.

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      1. I’ve never used the three-strap version, but the two-straps are still on the heavy side, without question – the soles are quite thick. On the other hand, that’s just what I like when using them on tours ( They’re the *only* footwear I use when touring ), since the additional shock absorption and padding are welcome at the end of a long day of riding.

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  10. Yay Keens. I love my Keen Newport H2 sandals. Non-cycling-specific. Flat pedals, no clips, no straps. Commuting & 200Ks. Year-round in NC with thin, thick, and thickest (hunters’) wool socks. Funk-free thanks to socks. Good toe protection. Recent photo: http://goo.gl/EV16c

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  11. Hey, are you all saying I have stinky feet?! Seriously, thanks for the tips and comments about the Keens. I think they are a fine versatile spring and summer shoe.

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