Bike Touring Shoes: 7,500 KM Five Ten Aescent Review & Blackspires
Most gear takes a absolute beating while on a long tour. None more than what’s beneath your feet…
After 7,500 kilometers worth of pedal strokes which pushed me through eight countries, as well as countless steps exploring city streets, trails, and towns, here are my thoughts on the shoes and pedals that were attached to my feet for six months.
Five Ten AESCENT – The One Pair Bike Touring Shoes
I convinced myself to convert to platform pedals prior to this past trip for one simple reason: to carry only a single pair of shoes, the ones on my feet. The requirements were that they have a stiff enough sole to pedal a 100km day without wrenching my arches, and continue to be just as comfortable hiking and walking as they are on the bike. The AEscents ticked all of the boxes.
The AEscent is technically an approach shoe. From what I understand, some approach shoes work really well for climbing, while others do a fine job of getting you where you’re going. I would say the AEscent fits the latter description, although I haven’t really climbed much. The AEscent is a lightweight yet durable workhorse of a shoe that seems as if it were built for grinding out the miles. The soles are incredibly sticky, although this lessens slightly over time.
Frankly, one problem I have with travel shoes is foot funk. During our Central America tour there was a point when my riding shoes had to be left outside if we happened to stay the night in a hostel. The AEscents didn’t get that bad, although I did scrub them down with a toothbrush and laundry soap one afternoon. This task was made easy by a removable foam footbed in each shoe. This also makes for a pretty good dry time.
Overall, the AEscents are a very well made shoe and held up for the long haul. A couple of abrasion holes wore in the soft inner liner fabric of the upper, but they aren’t structural. The sticky dot soles are a little run down at this point, but I think that is to be expected after a long trip. The wear is mostly at the ball of the sole, where the dots are all but erased. There are, as evidenced in the detail above, several permanent indentions that were formed by the platform pedal pins. These created a little play when pedaling. All that being said, the AEscents still ride very well. I will definitely pedal these for a bit longer, and buy another pair for our next trip.
Blackspire Pedals – 7,500 Kilometers Later
I won’t go in to a long description and spec list for the Blackspires, I did most of that in a previous post. I will say that I am convinced that this Canadian company created the near perfect bike touring pedal that performed flawlessly and held up for a long distance over rough tracks.
We had two different Blackspire models on this trip. Gin pedaled the Sub4 and I the Big Slim MKII. They each have the exact same innards around a solid chromo spindle, and slim 6061 platform with a very well thought out shape. Their only difference is that the MK II has two additional pins on each side, which makes it slightly heavier. The first thing that impressed me about both models was the traction. Throughout the trip we managed to get ourselves in some rough terrain, and I had only a couple occasions that led to bloody shins.
Both sets of pedals proved themselves very durable. Gins are still operating perfectly at this point. Towards the end of the trip, mine started getting a little crunchy. The bearings on both sides were shot, but the bushings were fine. All that was required was a quick swap of the bearings from a $25 rebuild kit (which actually services 4 pedals). It was a fairly simple task and now they are good for the next trip.
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