Review: Chrome “Kursk” Shoes

Several months back, the wizards behind the wildly popular Chrome messenger bag line announced that they would be coming out with several models of shoes, all named after famous WWII battles. Fast forward a couple months and they sent RL a courtesy pair of their “Kursk” shoes to try out. With RL’s beefy physique and matching wide feet, those shoes just didn’t fit, so he passed them over to me.

kursk

Here’s a bit about the shoes from Chrome’s site:

•Made of our Weatherproof 1,000 denier Cordura with back-padding
•100% vulcanized construction
•Low profile design to better fit into a toe cage
•Re-enforced nylon/glass fiber shank to support the midsole
•Board lasted sole to eliminate pedal hot spot
•Skid resistant contact rubber on the sole
•Polyurethane contoured crash pad insole
•Durable rubber heel cup with reflective safety hit
•Lace garage so laces don’t get caught in your chain
•Steel aglets to keep laces from fraying

The Kursk shoes are very reminiscent of the classic Converse All-Star, which has long been very popular for urban riders of all stripes. Right off the bat I’ve got to say that Chrome took the general styling of those classic shoes and made them WAY better.

First, the construction — the shoes are made of lightly-padded Cordura nylon and vulcanized rubber. The Cordura is incredibly durable and blows traditional canvas away. It doesn’t stretch, it doesn’t rot and it shakes off a ton of abuse. Same with the rubber toe cap and bumpers on the Kursk shoes — despite some heavy riding and daily kick-around wear, these shoes still look new.

Second, the details — this shoe has several features that make it ideal for urban riders. I especially like the “lace garage”, a loop of elastic that holds the tied laces parallel to the sides of the shoe. No more annoying (and dangerous) windup from a loose lace getting caught in your chain!

garage

The laces have steel aglets (endcaps) to give an extra measure of durability…no more fraying. Also, there are small but effective reflective inserts in the heels for a bit of nighttime visibility. That’s always a nice touch.

reflect

The logos are fairly subtle, and the color combo is one of my favorites…black with red accents. I showed them to my friend David when he was visiting — he’s a longtime Chrome bag user and jokes that his black-and-red Metropolis bag was the inspiration for building up a black-and-red fixed gear bike…after all, the bike has to match the bag, right? Needless to say, he was quite envious. These shoes are understated, yet they catch people’s attention in a positive way. I received quite a few compliments on them.

How do they ride? Quite nice, in fact — the stiffened sole eliminates the hot-spot issue many Converse/Vans/Adidas Samba wearers experience when riding with traditional cage pedals. One simply cannot feel the edges of the pedals digging in to the bottom of your foot with the Chromes on. And the shoes aren’t so stiff that they make walking uncomfortable — Chrome did their homework and found a good balance in that stiffness.

sole

The sole is plenty sticky…perfect for platform pedals like the BMX models I favor, and the shoe’s overall profile lends itself to riding with toeclips, slipping easily in and out of the clips without hangups.

Perhaps the only negative thing I can say about the Kursks is that they’re cut rather narrow. I have fairly bony feet and even I found the toebox a bit cramped. Unlike canvas shoes that will stretch with enough wear, the Cordura fabric of these shoes remains unyielding — that may change with more wear, but I’m doubting it. If you’ve got wide feet, you may consider purchasing a half-size larger than your normal shoes (they DO come in half-sizes from 4.5 to 11.5, with whole sizes in 12, 13 and 14). Or, you may want to find a place locally to try them on before pulling the trigger.

These shoes have become my default “casual Friday” work shoes — they look great and they’re great to ride in. For $70.00, you’ll get a well-made and well-thought-out pair of shoes that will dazzle your friends. Thumbs up!

ride a bike

Check out Chrome’s online store for these and other models of shoes, including the Saipan, the Arnhem and the Midway.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.


15 Comments

  1. Raiyn February 21, 2010 1:38 am 

    The Saipan’s are more my speed. Just sayin’

  2. BluesCat February 21, 2010 3:54 pm 

    Yeah, I’m with Raiyn; I like that ankle protection and the zipper.

    Hey, and GR, nice photos demonstrating that the Chrome shoes really grip! (Actually have ROCKS in the tread!)

  3. Ghost Rider February 21, 2010 6:36 pm 

    @BluesCat — thanks…those soles will pick up ANYTHING!

    Why the need for ankle protection? Are you downhilling on your way to work? 😉

  4. Jay February 22, 2010 8:05 am 

    These are great looking shoes. What’s the arch support like? If it’s comparable to that of Chuck Taylors (i.e. none), that’s gonna be a deal breaker for me. With shoes this cool looking, I’d want to wear them off the bike as well, so some arch support is pretty crucial. CT’s are my all-time favorite shoe, but as I’ve gotten older I have had to give them up because I just can’t take the abuse they put my feet through anymore.

  5. Ghost Rider February 22, 2010 8:14 am 

    @Jay — I’d have to say the arch support is substantially better than Chucks, but still not as good as it could be for some folks.

    I hear ya about CTs…for about 15 years, my Grandma gave me a pair of high-top black Chucks for every Christmas. By the time the next Christmas rolled around, the previous year’s pair was a completely tattered biohazard and had to be destroyed. After that many years, though, my feet had taken such a beating that I moved on to more supportive shoes like running shoes. I haven’t owned a pair of Chucks since…

  6. locus February 22, 2010 8:14 am 

    Those Chrome shoes look great! Thanks for the review.

    However, if you’re looking for a similar shoe with a little more potential give in the material (you noted Cordura doesn’t stretch), you should consider the 5.10 (Five Tennies) Freerider. These leather shoes have a reinforced sole to improve support at the pedal. Just as the chrome shoes look like Chucks, one of the freerider colorway options for the Freeriders looks like an old pair of red/black/white low-top Air Jordans from the ’80s.

    I have a pair that is just starting to get broken in. They ride great despite the lack of some of the features on the Chrome shoes (i.e. reflective heels and lace garage).

    locus
    Washington, DC

  7. BluesCat February 22, 2010 9:05 am 

    GR – I’ve had plantar fasciitis for almost thirty years, and about three years ago I started developing peroneal tendonitis in my left foot. (Those two conditions are why I don’t hike or backpack as much as I used and why I have a stable of four bicycles today!)

    The latter condition is helped by having a shoe which comes up higher than the ankle bone, and I’ve discovered a really neat solution for the former condition when a shoe has little or no arch support. Make sure you start with a shoe that has a pretty stiff sole (flexible soles are for people who run and walk on the sandy beach, NOT for people who walk all day on concrete floors or who use bike pedals), then go down to the drug store and buy a pair of ProFoot 2oz. Miracle insoles. Cut the insole to size, put ’em in those shoes and in a little while you’ll have a REALLY comfortable shoe. The 2oz. Miracle molds to the bottom of your foot, giving you great arch support without filling up your shoe.

  8. Elizabeth February 22, 2010 11:32 am 

    Great review… how do they hold up in rain? These shoes are waterproof, right?

    BTW – love your socks! :-)

  9. Ghost Rider February 22, 2010 12:01 pm 

    I haven’t ridden with them in the rain (yet), but they’re certainly not waterproof. Cordura is naturally water-resistant due to the weave of the nylon fabric and surface treatments, but to be truly waterproof it would need some sort of additional membrane (Goretex, etc.).

  10. Baron Geoff February 25, 2010 2:46 pm 

    These shoes rock. I’ve been wearing them every day for 3 months in a dirty shop and no signs of wear. The do break in and only get more comfortable.

    Better in the rain than other shoes I’ve had but you wouldn’t want them in a full downpour.

    My only gripe is the metal ends on the laced tend to bounce around while pedaling and can be a little annoying.

  11. Elizabeth February 25, 2010 8:49 pm 

    @Baron – just curious, what is your footwear of choice in a downpour???

  12. D August 5, 2010 9:48 pm 

    I got a pair of these and have to say that they are extremely painful. The stiff rough heel really digs into the back of my foot. After weeks of trying to break them in I just can’t seem to get it. I would definitely recommend getting at least a half size bigger so you can put some padding in the back.

  13. Trackbike September 16, 2010 11:14 am 

    I found these shoes incredibly painful to break in. The material is so stiff and it would dig into the top of my foot. Really bad. Also, if you have a narrow foot, know that these are quite wide. Also, they are quite heavy. I am sure they are very durable and some people seem to have no problem with them, but I am not a fan of these sneakers.

  14. BullhornBro July 19, 2012 6:13 am 

    What shoes have worked for guys with wide “duck-feet” ?

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