Anytime you’re on a mountain bike, there will come a time when you need to walk on rough terrain. It could be hoofing your bike over a rough section or hiking off the trail to answer nature’s call. KEEN’s Springwater II’s ($100) possess the lineage and bloodline for rough stuff.
In its second generation, the KEEN Springwater II is a closed-toe SPD compatible cycling shoe. They still feature a three-strap Velcro closure system, a full-length support plate, moisture-wicking lining, a non-marking rubber outsole and uppers made from synthetic materials but three major changes: Improved fit, lighter weight and lighter price point (the Springwater I’s retailed for about $110 or $120 back in the day).
The Springwater II’s, with full-length SPD-compatible plates, thermoplastic urethane cleat tap plates and webbing around the heels (to secure your heel in place), are stiff enough to provide good power transfer for climbs, descents and everything in between. Yet the flexible upper paired with lugged rubber outsoles bite into rough terrain and rocks make walking easy. The 2-bolt cleat pocket is deep enough so that fresh SPD cleats rarely grind audibly on concrete or rocky trail, but the rubber lugs don’t interfere with clipping in.
Combined with Shimano SPD pedals, I find that the Springwater II’s deliver solid riding performance. Three sturdy Velcro rip-and-stick straps secure my feet in the shoes. The adjustability is good, too. I have normal feet so the fit is excellent, but even if you have wide feet, the Springwater II’s are adjustable. The improved fit over the Springwater I’s is, in my opinion, negligible. However, what is not negligible is the weight. I do notice that the II’s are lighter. The Springwater II’s weigh in at 12 ounces compared to the 15.8 ounces of the I’s.
Inside the Springwater II’s is a shaped metatomical EVA footbed that delivered the type of cushioning and arch support that I have come to expect from Keen. The Springwater I’s have this as well. Just because you’re on a bike, doesn’t mean your arches don’t need support. Standing up on your pedals to harness extra leverage on hills or using your body’s natural suspension to absorb rough trail, transfers your weight to your feet and arches. Anyone who says arch support isn’t necessary for riding isn’t riding right.
Finally, a nice mesh lining promotes air circulation. If you like your epic rides, followed by more days of epic rides, the lining is treated with AEGIS Microbe Shield® to resist stinks created from bacterial growth. It is amazing and scary the things that live inside bike shoes.
Overall, I think these are great mountain bike shoes and can’t find any area in which they could possibly disappoint. Having both the Commuter II pedal sandal for summer commuting and the Presidio pedal shoe for winter commuting and riding, I can honestly say that I’m satisfied with the durability of KEEN’s cycling shoes. The Presidio pedal shoe is still my #1 choice and recommendation for winter riding because the leather construction keeps the cold out and the warmth in. This winter will be my third winter in the Presidio’s.
If you’re concerned that your KEENs have questionable longevity, don’t be. The KEEN line in general has an excellent reputation for durability.
Be sure you try them on before you buy. KEEN’s tend to run a half size big or small for me depending on the shoe (sandals, shoes, boots). However, the Springwater II’s seem to be sized more precisely. I have a size 7.5 foot and Springwaters are sized just right.
If you live in Minneapolis, REI carries the KEEN Springwater II’s so you’ll have no problem trying them on before you buy.
Recommended sock? Darn Tough Vermont Run – Bike sock.