The Rondels, produced by San Francisco hipsters Mission Workshop in collaboration with shoe company DZR, are remarkably comfortable. Slip them on and, apart from a little extra heft, they feel just like a decent pair of leather casual shoes.
Flip them over, though, and you'll see the grippy rubber sole is ready to accept a SPD-style (ie. two-bolt mountain bike rather than three-bolt road) cleat – after a bit of careful carpet knife work.
Of course, you can always leave the sole as it is for flat pedal use. Thoughtfully, Mission Workshop include a pair of specially designed cleat covers with the shoes, in case you cut the sole but then have a change of heart.
The cleat recess is the perfect depth, so you can walk on wooden floors without leaving scratch marks, yet clipping-in is unhindered. If you ride flats, the chain link design on the sole provides good grip.
While there's plenty of flex along the length of the sole, the forefoot and toe area is noticeably stiffer. The Rondels are never going to compare to the latest carbon-soled race slippers in terms of power transfer, but they're certainly stiff enough for commuting, urban and even light off-road use – although it'd be a shame to get them muddy!
Attention to detail is good, with a handy elastic lace tidy and a reflective logo on each heel. While we can see the advantages of supplying the shoes with an uncut sole, we found that after our carpet knife work there was a thin gap between the surrounding sole and the base of the shoe where grip and dirt is likely to collect.
It's nothing a judicious layer of glue won't sort out, but at this price you shouldn't have to resort to DIY fixes. Ah yes, the price. The Rondels certainly aren't cheap, but you do get full grain leather construction and a look that the fixie crowd will love and that'll fit in everywhere from a smart-casual office to down the pub.