Aspen Times Weekly: ‘Recon Mixed’ Bike Shoes
October 20, 2015
Faux-leather and shoelaces distinguish the Recon Mixed bike shoes, conjuring up old-school aesthetics that existed before the days of Velcro and carbon-fiber soles.
But hidden in the design are new technologies giving a rider versatility and performance along with a refined look.
Made for mountain bikers as well as chameleons who also roll on pavement and gravel, the shoes, new this month from Specialized, cloak a stiff sole and high-traction tread in a shell passable as "dressy" when off the bike.
Side by side with my normal bike shoes, the Recon Mixed exude understated good looks. Mesh on the toes and raised tread underfoot give the Specialized footwear away as sporty, though a passerby would need to glance hard.
The Recon Mixed are part of a greater trend of classy cycling-wear, including chamois-equipped shorts that hide performance features and jerseys that lose flashy colors and logos in favor of subdued motifs.
On the shoes, pedal cleats attach via threaded bolt holes, supporting the industry-standard SPD-style pattern. Clip in to your pedals and spin, and the Recon Mixed convert to serious shoes with the fit needed to ride long distances on pavement, gravel, or dirt trails.
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I wore them over three weeks for a test. To me, bike shoes have remained unchanged at a macro level for a few years, so the touted technology upgrades were less noticeable than the aesthetics.
The Recon Mixed were stiff underfoot, transferring power as I pedaled just like my workaday mountain-bike shoes. Specialized advertises an ergonomic footbed and touts an "engineered" carbon sole, together adding comfort and power transfer as you crush out the miles.
The outsole is made with soft rubber and big tread. Standard screw-in studs under the toes let you dig in for grip on the ground once off the bike.
They weigh about 13 ounces per shoe, depending on size, which is light enough. Overall, I would trade these out for my more performance-minded shoes during all but the most serious rides.
Downsides? They are slow to put on, with a tight heel area and laces to tie and then thread through elastic keepers so the bows don't interfere with the chain. They are super stiff, too, which is great while riding but not ideal for any distance on foot.
A bigger caveat may be price. At $225, Specialized is aiming for a higher-tier rider. However, I have used shoes from the company for years, and I would vouch for their quality and enough durability to last for thousands of miles of abuse.
If you need new shoes that hit a nexus of performance, versatility, and good looks, the Recon Mixed could be your game.
Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at http://www.gearjunkie.com.
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