Exustar Stelvio SRT-707 Touring Shoes
Unless you make a point of principle by riding your bike in plimsolls, you will no doubt be aware that cycling shoes present the cyclist with a range of possibilities, functions and confusion that is hard to describe. The species available run through a wide spectrum of weights, styles, materials and uses.
I have posted before on my search for a pair of cycling shoes that are ‘old-fashioned’ – I do not use cleated pedals out of preference. I used a pair of Quoc Pham Fixed shoes for some time and indeed still have them – they are a lovely handmade pair of shoes.
But on some longer (50 miles plus) rides, I began to find that they were a little too narrow in the toe area. This led to ‘sleepy toes’; the horrible feeling where your circulation gradually ceases in certain extremities. I think that in the winter, this was partly due to the cold. But with an upcoming 100 mile audax, I felt it was time to look at what was available on the market. My shortlist was quickly narrowed down to two possibilities:
1) Reynolds Shoes – a handmade cycling shoe made by a small firm in Northampton, based on a very traditional design.
2) Exustar Stelvio – These are a little more modern and ‘mass produced’, but still follow the traditional construction with a defined heel and laces.
A trip to Madgetts of Diss, where a veritable cornucopia of cycling shoes of various sizes, vintages and makes, lies on shelves at the back of the shop, saw me settle on a pair of Exustar Stelvio ST-707 shoes. And two days later, I was to break them in on the 100 mile Suffolk Sunrise ride – talk about a baptism of fire for a pair of new shoes….what if they become uncomfortable half way round?
They are a very substantial shoe in comparison with the QP’s. With a long, quite narrow foot, and a good, stiff sole, they are well suited to toe clips and straps. They come with two options as far as fixing goes – you can either unscrew the cleat cover on the sole and screw cleats in, thus using them like modern cycling shoes, or you can do as I do and remain in the 1970’s with a rubbery sole and use trap pedals.
The laces are very long, which is an observation that is more significant than it first appears. Especially if you opt for cleats. The problem is that the loops of the tied laces tend to blow about while you are riding, and you risk catching them in the chainwheel and either mangling them, or worse, falling off. I tend to stuff the tied loops under the front of the lace now, which holds it in place – although you could always use shorter laces.
The sizes, like most cycling shoes, tend to come up small so do try them on – ordering such shoes off the internet is not recommended. I have also replaced the footbeds with a slightly chunkier pair from some running shoes I had in the garage – I find that they hold my feet in place better. I definitely feel that my feet are secure and well covered now.
As you can see from the picture above, the shoe has a definite sole and heel construction and this means that walking in them is no problem at all. The sole is grippy and soft-ish, so no worries about slipping on the floor at a tea stop.
So how do they perform in the real world? bear in mind my cycling is longer distances on a steel framed audax bike, as opposed to all-out light roadie style riding.
1) Cost – they retail for around £70.00 a pair, which is not that expensive for a proper leather touring shoe. You have to shop around; Spa Cycles in Harrogate were selling the outgoing model for £50 recently, but this model is probably too new to lend any bargains just yet.
2) Looks – they look low-key, old-fashioned and well made. If you value the above qualities then great – but if your idea of good looking cycle shoes is a carbon fibre-loaded, white, red and black style then you’ll be unlikely to buy a pair of these!
3) Long ride comfort – well as I said, I rode the SS100 in May with these shoes literally ‘box fresh’. It was a wet, cold, windy day and the shoes stood up well. They offer good support, they have a rigid sole, they offer warmth, and with a little adjustment of the laces I got the comfort pretty much spot on. Now, several hundred miles later, and in much warmer weather, they continue to be great riding shoes.
So, in summary, this is a touring shoe. It will suit those of us who are not concerned about such frippery as weight, fashion or high-techiness. It will almost certainly offer lifetime comfort to a cool-headed, grown-up rider who enjoys racking up the miles on their steel framed machine.