Teva are pushing hard to break into cycling. They’ve got trials riding icon Jeff Lenosky (Giant) involved in designing their shoes, and they're now stuck to the feet of top riders like Cam McCaul (Trek C3 Project). The loud and proud Links has grabbed all the headlines but there's a second, equally adept shoe in their line-up – the Pinner.
While both shoes work great – the major difference is the ion-mask finish that genuinely keeps the Links looking fresh – we’ve taken to the Pinner for its subdued look and matched performance. In car terms, it's a sleeper.
The first thing you'll notice after slipping into the 'tarmac' (the olive green colourway pictured) or black Pinners is just how comfortable these kicks are. They have a slipper-like feel, thanks in part to Teva’s Mush Infused Insole sock liner and ShockPad EVA sole.
Off the bike they kept our feet happy – we wore them at last year's Interbike trade show, which had us on our feet and walking for the better part of 14 hours a day, and they seemed to add some spring to our step – and on the bike, the ‘Mush’ doesn’t translate to sloppiness. There was very slight packing-out of the upper once broken in, but it didn’t affect the fit, comfort or performance adversely.
The Pinner doesn't draw nearly as much attention as the Links shoe
Teva’s Spider365 outsole grips a pedal exceptionally well, alongside the best we’ve ridden, both through tread design and the sticky nature of the rubber. We found it retains a good level of grip when wet, and sheds mud better than the design initially suggests; granted, mud with lots of clay does pack-in.
The toe and ‘E-brake’ heel fore and aft tread also seem to work as advertised, with the former helping scale the dirt pile and the latter keeping you off your butt when skitching back down. Our only bit of criticism comes in regards to the feel of the sole, which we found slightly soft for our clip-accustomed feet. Obviously, pedal geometry and rider preference play into this assessment heavily.
Durability has been exceptional over our six-month test period, during which the Pinners have been ridden a couple times a week – either at the bike park or on a townie – as well as serving as a daily driver for our feet. The uppers show virtually no signs of wear and the soles only slight wear due to walking; even aggressive Twenty6 Predator pedals have had surprisingly little impact.
They’re not cheap, but they're slightly less expensive than the $100 Links and they inhabit the lower end of the price range when it comes to top-tier shoes in this category, which range from US$100 to $125.
The suede upper does without the Links' reinforced heel cup and ion-mask fabric