Casual urban-styled cycling shoes with clipless SPD pedal compatibility for 2-bolt cleats are becoming increasingly available – with Adidas being the first major trainer brand to hop on this trend.
Taking its popular Samba shoes, Adidas has added SPD compatibility and stiffened the sole to create a shoe which is efficient for riding, but also looks the part off the bike – so you can go about your daily business in shoes that look just like your normal trainers.
These make them a great option as one of the best cycle commuter shoes, especially on those outings which involve more riding than walking, as the stiffness delivered by these normal looking trainers is fantastically fun for darting about town on the bike.
The downside is that they’re more difficult and less comfy to walk in once you’ve arrived at your destination…
Adidas Velosamba Cycling Shoes: construction
The fully integrated rubber cup outsole of the Velosambas features a two-bolt cleat fitting for SPD clipless pedals. Above this, a full-length reinforced insole is integrated, which is designed to provide a supportive base for more efficient pedalling.
Up top, most of the upper is made of a coated leather, which is nice and easy to wipe clean. An area of textile lining has been added to the front, though, which is a little more difficult to take care of.
A lace snap keeps the ears of your bow under control while you’re riding, ensuring they won’t flap into the drivetrain and wrap themselves around the cranks. Reflective detailing on the heel and on the sides helps to boost visibility from a wide range of angles, too.
Adidas Velosamba Cycling Shoes: the ride (and walk)
With a high heel, the Velosambas are very easy to put on and provide a comfortable and supporting fit while riding.
Thanks to the stiff full-length sole, these street style shoes possessed enough stiffness for solid power transfer.
Obviously, all these things are relative – I’m not saying that the Velosambas go toe-to-toe with any of Specaizlied’s S-Works road shoes! But in relation to road shoes around the lower mid range, the stiffness of the Velosambas actually felt comparable – if rather more bulky and with a little less ventilation.
With that reasonably stiff sole, accelerating back up to speed when the traffic lights change felt smooth and efficient – as did longer, more concerted efforts down the long straights, trying to make it to the lights while they’re still green. My ride into Cardiff is about 20km, but the Velosambas felt efficient throughout. On the bike, I’ve been very impressed.
But these are also supposed to be designed for a good experience off the bike too…
Adidas reckons the Velosambas provide “an easy walking feel”, but that’s not the case in my experience – they don’t provide enough flexibility at the forefoot for comfortable walking, plus there was some serious heel slippage at the back with every step.
If you’re primarily riding to somewhere you’ll be sitting down, these shoes are fine – great even. But if you tend to walk about town to a moderate extent after riding in, the Velosambas aren’t such a good option – they’re simply too stiff.
Fit wise, it’s worth pointing out that the toe box is on the narrow side, but I didn’t find this was an issue for me.
Adidas Velosamba Cycling Shoes: value and conclusion
With a price tag of $120.00 / £100.00, these certainly aren’t the most expensive good-looking SPD compatible shoes. Chrome’s robust Southside Low Pros are $135.00 / £126.00 and Quoc’s stylish Chelsea Boots are ~$195.50 / £180.00.
This model is available in two shades (Navy and Cream White), while the slightly more expensive $130.00 / £110.00 vegan alternative (which contains a minimum of 25 per cent recycled content), is offered in five colourways.
Taking a look at non-specific urban shoes, there are models that have been designed for off-road riding which boost many of the qualities desired for urban riding. Shimano’s AMR (AM503) SPD MTB shoes are a great example of this, they are lovely to walk in and cost just $115.00 / £79.99.
Overall, the Velosambas are very well made, comfortable to ride in and look great. I would wear the Velosambas for rides into the city that involve a lot more cycling than walking. But I wouldn’t recommend them for someone who has a 5km bike ride in and is then going to spend the day walking about town with friends. In those circumstances I’d opt for the slightly less stiff Chrome Southside Low Pros or even opt for a flat shoe / flat pedal combo as they tend to be ‘more walkable’.
If you are popping into the city on a 5km or much longer ride and are locking up your bike right next to the cafe that you’re meeting your mate at, then the Velosambas are ideal.