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[REVIEW] O’Neal Traverse SPD shoes

O’Neal new Traverse SPD shoe has just had its presentation. Its a model that is positioned between the weatherproof Loam WP SPD and more sneakers-like shoes like Flow or Session. The lineup is complete. Let’s check out if the newest model has managed the fulfill its target.

First impressions:

The first thing that is noticeable when you choose O’Neal shoes is the multitude of sizing information. Apart from US and EU sizing you get the info about the length of the insole (pretty standard but now always) and width of the insole. The latter size is very important when buying shoes on the web due to the fact that our feet differ not only in length but is width as well.

The first view of the shoes was good. They have a lot of protection in the front, they’re equipped with quick lace with an additional Velcro strap which helped a lot with perfect tightening the shoes to your feet. It’s nice when you don’t have to fight the knotted shoelaces every other ride. On the other hand I had some problems with keeping the string from the quick lace secure and only after try and error phase I had been able to secure them in a satisfactory manner. If you happened the break the system, you can buy a replacement one from O’Neal – nice touch.

The shoes come with a bolted rubber cleat cover, so you can safely convert them from clipless to flat pedal fairly efficiently when the need arises. After removing the cover you can see a very generous amount of space for cleat placement fine tuning. Actually these were the first shoes that I had on my feet for my whole clipless life where I managed to setup the cleats after the first try. One downside – the manufacturer does not provide a metal platform to put between the cleats and the shoe – I used one of my used ones for the task.

The weight of one shoe in size 44.5 is 490 grams. Not the lightest for sure but still manageable for a whole day excursions. The available color options are black with black or blue features. The prices is set on 99 Euro per pair.

Ride impressions:

The shoes feel right. Not fabulous, but just right. You put them on, tighten them, hove some time securing the quick laces (for the first ride) and forget about them until you have to take them off. They feel secure. In fact, the front of the shoes gives stupid ideas that you can kick rocks all around and it will be the rocks that will break, not the shoe or your toes. It is great confidence booster especially when riding in loose, stony surfaces when in some other shoes I yelled again and again after a stone found its mark on my big toe.

Riding in wet conditions is pretty okay, until you hit a big water hole. Than you feel why O’Neal has a dedicated wet weather shoe (Loam WP SPD). On the other hand it for is a lot less ventilated so it’s just up to you to choose between ventilation vs water tightness. I also had the opportunity to ride (or more likely: hike-a-bike) in them in the snow. The stayed dry for the time of the ride (more than 3 hours). The only dampness came from the area of the ankle, where the snow had contact with my body heat and melted. So even if these shoes are not meant for riding in the wet they pretty much can do it.

The outsole gives enough traction for hike-a-bike activities but it may slip sometimes on wet stones due to its hardness. Thanks to the design of thread there was good traction on snow, unfortunately ice was not it’s element – again the harder rubber material. On the other hand, the outsole should last longer this way.

Pros:

– great toe protection

– lots of space for clip installation and setting

– put on and forget type of shoes

– price wise

Cons:

– a little on the heavy side for an all-round mtb shoe

Overall impression:

Very nice and comfortable option for people looking for an all-round shoe for whole day trips. Offers great protection for your toes which is crucial if you are used to riding on the rougher and more natural trails.

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