I love a classic sneaker. When Converse finally started making shoes that had decent footbeds and a modicum of arch support, I snapped up a few pairs. But as cool as they look when hanging out at the local brewery, they are terrible as cycling footwear. Enter the DZR Mechanic, an SPD-compatible casual shoe.
The first thing I noticed about these kicks is that they’re beautifully and durably made. From the shiny, substantial abrasion-resistant nylon fabric upper and camo-print lining, to the flawless double stitching and the custom design on the rubber soles, the Mechanics exude quality. (DZR shoes are designed in San Francisco and made in China.) They’re a bit heavy, but that heft is part of their utility, and their dashing looks means no one will suspect you’re tramping around in cycling shoes. Also, my shoes have been drenched over and over in nasty road spray but with a quick wipe down, they return to looking like new.
The front of the shoe is made of smooth, perforated, vegan leather. I haven’t had the chance to wear the Mechanics on hot days but icy air will cut right through the toe boxes, making them best for warmer-weather rambling.
The shoes feature rear pull tabs for easy on and off, padded ankles, waxed flat laces, gum rubber soles and a full-length nylon mid-sole shank for both walking flexibility and pedaling power. The Mechanics are definitely a lot less bendy than my beloved Converse, but don’t expect a road shoe riding experience. I can’t bend them with my hands, but hard efforts on the pedal will result in some noticeable flexing. But if you’re not looking to enhance your Strava cred on the ride to the local #coffeeoutside gathering, then the Mechanics should offer you a happy medium for everyday cycling.
They need a bit of improvement for flat pedals. While the rubber grips well enough—though not as well as mountain bike-specific flat shoes—the cleat covers aren’t flush with the rest of the soles, making the riding experience a bit awkward when they are installed. If your flat pedals have adjustable pins, you could try lowering the center ones, otherwise I recommend these primarily as clip-in shoes.
On the other hand, walking is more comfortable with the cleat cover installed. You can just barely feel the cleat-shank interface when walking on hard surfaces as it’s right under the ball of your foot. I didn’t really notice on short trips, but you might want to try thicker inserts if you’re planning to stand or walk all day. Otherwise, when using cleats (I run Crank Brothers pedals), I had no issues with pedal interference and engaged and disengaged easily. The cleats are recessed into the super-thick soles enough that I can safely pass through my wood floor-covered house without scratching things up.
I found the Mechanics true to size with a nice roominess in the toe box, though they might feel narrow to males with wide feet. No break-in period is required; just slip them on and go.
More info: dzrshoes.com