B’Twin 520 shoes review£70.00

XC-styled but trail happy SPD shoes at a bargain price

BikeRadar score4.5/5Find prices on Bicycle Blue Book

Even Decathlon can’t deliver a carbon-soled shoe for £70 but the stiff nylon sole of the 520 is the next best thing when it comes to putting maximum pressure through the pedal.

The inner is well shaped for support without being too prescriptive for neutral feet and the heel cup is stiff enough to stop lift without nagging your Achilles. The upper is well shaped too and the two diagonal Velcro straps and twin position ratchet buckle lock it down race-tight without obvious pressure points under the padded tongue.

Overall that gives a supportive and stiff enough fit that when we were testing it as half a pair with our benchmark £120 XC/trail shoe, we had to take our overshoes off to remind ourselves which was which after a couple of hours.

While it’s not exactly sticky and grippy, the big sole lugs are far less plasticky and treacherous than most budget shoes. There are threads for toe stud mounts and plenty of edge grip for stamping up side slopes.

Textured rubber protects the toe box and while their low profile means they dodge most damage the ratchet strap and buckle are replaceable.

With just two small strips of mesh in the synthetic leather upper they’re relatively weatherproof and easy to make splashproof with some accurately placed gaffer tape, although the soft padded insole is best fished out for fast drying.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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