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