These Splinter shoes from Polaris are designed for trail riding and on paper they look very impressive, especially the Vibram sole. The first thing we noticed when we slipped them on is how narrow the fit is and how tight the heel is – it really grasps your foot, and even digs in in places. Once we’d cleated the shoes up, we went straight out for a spin.
The Vibram sole, while grippy, is a bit on the stiff side for a general trail shoe – and it’s definitely too stiff for any kind of off-the-bike activity. We also found that the sole was too thick and chunky to be worn with platform-style clipless pedals, which meant we had trouble getting in and out – they almost forced the Crank Brothers Candy pedals mechanism open, so the spring couldn’t close around the cleat.
The narrow fitting didn’t loosen much with extended use either, but the digging-in around the heel improved marginally. The laces are high quality so they tie easily and don’t slip undone, and the straps are well made and have a bit of excess, which means they can easily be grabbed with gloves on.