Some of you may know that Caleb went on a wee road trip around the States recently. As well as sticking his beak in the secret drawers of Greg Herbold, stretching out in Ross Schnell's planet killer, and discovering that we really weren't blowing smoke up the Tallboy's arsehole, he visited the TEVA Mountain Games to see if their shoes are just as useful for mountain biking as they are for uphill kayaking, extreme hacky sack and stinking hippy slack lining. The shoes are in New Zealand now and some of Vertigo Bikes guides have been given a few pairs to test out. Useful really, because there's been more mountain biking than snow skidding in Queenstown recently. Here's what the tantric snake Paul Angus has to say about the shoes.
Words by Paul Angus aka T-Pang, aka Pangus, aka The Nutty Monk, aka Snipers Nightmare, aka possibly the most sublimely skilled rider in the under 30kg category.
Teva—that's "teh-vah," not "tee-vah"—has been around for 25 years, and has built its reputation on water based sports shoes, stemming from rafting operations in the Grand Canyon. Does this make it a suitable candidate for producing a mountain bike shoe? Well, it has all the technology in place, amalgamated with a well chosen collaboration with legendary freerider Jeff Lenosky, to produce a new purpose built flat soled freeride shoe.
Teva has been supporting mountain biking at the Teva Mountain Games for the past five years and the event is now recognised as one of the premier freeride competitions. It's a very environmentally aware company, and support many environmental initiatives such as the Waterkeepers Alliance and Conservation Alliance. The company philosophy is great, stating that, “In the end, we want to make shoes that help you see the world, but not at the cost of making a world that you don’t want to see.”
Does this philosophy suit mountain bikers? Yes, I think it does! We're a curious breed that likes to see new things, explore new areas and find special moments of solitary in beautiful environments. We love nature and being in the mountains, and if we can support a company that is dedicated to keeping the mountains the way they should be, that has got to be a good thing!
So as for the shoe itself, well Vertigo Bikes has been lucky to get some samples from Teva New Zealand to try out over winter, and the model we received to use and abuse is the Link. It's a great looking shoe, and the attention to detail is what really impressed me; they have obviously gone all out to produce a real competitor to try to dilute the Five Ten monopoly out there at the moment.
The first thing you notice when you pick them up is how light they are. They have definitely done what they can to keep the weight down without sacrificing performance and protection. The second thing you notice is the sole which has three distinct sections to it. You have the main grip pad taking up most of the space perfectly where you want to have your foot on the pedal. Then you have a more aggressive tread design at the front and the back of the shoe. The front is to aid traction when walking up a trail, and the back section on the heel (Teva calls it the E-Brake) has a reverse lug pattern to help aid traction when walking down the trail. Very clever and great for trail building days! There's also a rigid heel stabiliser to help keep your foot centred in the shoe.
These are all great little features that add to the overall package but the bit I like best which will probably appeal to riders who like to ride in the mud is the special technology that Teva has brought from years of experience in the water sports industry to make the shoe resistant to absorbing water (on a molecular level they say!) Sounds very Star Trek, but Teva’s Ion Mask technology, combined with waterproof materials throughout the rest of the shoe, means that the shoe should keep your feet a bit drier and will be easier to wash after the end of a muddy ride. Love it!
So the nitty gritty! How do they ride? The sole is made from Teva’s 'Spider365 sticky rubber' and to put any rumours to rest straight away, out of the box, the sole is not as glue-like sticky as a Five Ten; I would describe it more like a semi worn set of Five Tens. Is this a bad thing? Those of you who have been Five Ten users for a while will know that they are too grippy when new, and don’t start to feel their best until they do wear to a certain point, whereas the Teva Links feel like this straight out of the box. A lot of flat pedal riders use flat pedals because we like the feeling of freedom that being able to move your foot around on the pedal gives. We like the little positional shifts that happen so naturally when you are really flowing with a trail and in the air, and sometimes having a shoe that is too grippy really impinges on this. On the trail, like any good product, you didn’t even notice them. Blasting down the rough and fast Vertigo Trail in Queenstown Bike Park, I felt completely confident in the shoes from the first straight, jumping into braking bumps, rock gardens, roots and holes; there was no sign of them going anywhere on the pedals. After using Five Tens for almost 10 years now, I was blown away that I could even think I could ride another brand of shoe. So well done Teva, you've hit the nail on the head with the Links!
They should be available in all good bike shops soon, including Vertigo Bikes in Queenstown! www.vertigobikes.com
Specs T.I.D.E GRIP Our Spider365 Rubber sole will hold its grip in all kinds of environments. The sole of the Links was designed specifically to interface with the unique platform of a bike pedal. Aggressive tread designs at the toe and heel will grip the dirt when you’re hoofin’ it. Teva E-Brake in the heel features a reverse lug pattern to give you downhill traction when you’re off your bike. A rigid heel stabilizer keeps your foot centered in the shoe. T.I.D.E HYDRO Ion-mask™ technology actually prevents the materials in this shoe from absorbing any water on a molecular level. It sounds like sci-fi, but it’s real. Waterproof materials throughout the shoe make it easy to wash the mud off. T.I.D.E COMFORT A rubberized grid over the toe area is a breathable armor that prevents puncture or ripping. Leather and mesh upper. A Shoc Pad™ in the heel makes for a smooth ride. Extra padding throughout the upper softens your landings. Strong plastic wraps around the back of the shoe to protect your heel. Elastic gores on the tongue give you a snug fit. Our Mush® Infused Insole brings the absurd comfort of our flip flops into a shoe.