Hardcore roadies may use Looks but a lot of commuters and leisure riders prefer SPD pedals – SPD shoes’ recessed cleats allow you to walk comfortably and safely – and Decathlon’s 520s look like an attractive SPD option and there are also cheaper-still Triban 500s with faux-leather uppers.
There’s little cutting-edge technology on display here but these are a tough pair of road shoes with enough grip from the treads for walking on lighter gravel – though not deep mud or seriously gnarly surfaces.
The five-eyelet lacing and a ratcheted strap offer good security and adjustability, the strap stopping the laces flapping.
I had to do them up pretty tightly to stop the heel rising slightly when walking, but they were comfortable enough to wear all day – two long commutes and time in the office – with no hot spots developing.
Their non-shouty look means they resemble logo-free trainers, though the four colours include a much more lairy blood orange.
They’re not light, my size 42s weighing 798g per pair, but do you really notice an extra few grams in your shoes? I didn’t.
The real leather upper is comfortable and is heavily perforated, with a layer of mesh beneath. Testing in early autumn, they kept my feet warm without overshoes and kept the worst of heavy-ish rain out for quite a while.
They’re quite large around the toe box and plushly padded around the heels and ankles with a reasonable amount of padding on the underside of the tongue. Reflective details include a rear tab and loop, four of the lace eyelets and stitching through the laces. Reflectives on shoes are particularly handy because moving feet are picked out by car headlights.
These work very well clipping into SPD pedals but they were less successful on the flat side of Shimano M324 pedals and studded flat pedals. If you’re pootling they’re fine but get out of the saddle to crank it up and the soles offer little grip on the pedals.
These shoes can sometimes be found at an even lower price direct from Decathlon, depending on colour choice, but even at the full RRP of 70 quid they represent very good value indeed.