Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Ecco Yucatan Sandals

Last year I moved from clip-in pedals to Ergon pedals, which allow me wear any shoe for a bike ride. To put it mildly, this change is liberating. Despite dire warnings from my clipped in peers I have no trouble keeping up with other riders and hills are not a problem. Thanks to the Ergon pedal's great ergonomics, my foot doesn't slip off the pedal. In fact, unlike any other pedal I've tried, the Ergon includes a fitted depression that perfectly accommodates the ball of my foot. Grant Peterson may have a point when he calls special cycling shoes (and so called "clipless" pedals) "one of the biggest, fattest lies of all time."

Skipping clipless pedals on a tour means you are spared the bother of hauling extra shoes in order to take a walk: your riding shoes become your walking shoes. I did my first unclipped tour in Shimano bike sandals, a fairly heavy "dedicated cycling sandal" with a rigid sole. Even so it's a big improvement over two sets of shoes. I replaced the sandal's metal clip in mechanism with Shimano's rubber insert but I couldn't do anything about the interior stiffening material which felt like a thick steel shank. The Shimanos are really intended to clip to a "clipless" pedal.


The rigid and somewhat heavy Shimano Cycling Sandal

I was able to walk a bit in the Shimanos without feeling like I was balancing on the cutting edge of a saw. But when I needed to hike two miles to a beach I found myself yearning for "real" shoes.

A few weeks ago I visited an Ecco shoe dealer in San Francisco and discovered the Ecco Yucatan Sandal. As a walking shoe they are simply superb: no break-in needed. You simply walk out of the store and into your life. And since I do my life by bike whenever possible, it made sense to take the Ecco sandals for a ride.
The Ecco Yucatan: a gift for your feet

It's not your imagination, Ecco sandals actually look more inviting, a clear sign of good ergonomics.  Unlike Shimanos, Eccos are form fitted against the arch and will flex as you walk. Better yet they weigh significantly less than Shimanos; riding or walking you hardly notice you're wearing shoes. I doubt that anyone has called these sandals "bike shoes" but with a decent pedal like the Ergon they add a significant ergonomic advantage to your ride.

One caveat: Ecco shoes come from Denmark. Like a great many Scandinavian products they are ergonomic—and pricey. Yes, you can get by with $6 Wallmart flip flops...and you can sleep on a sheet of cardboard out in the park.

Walking or cycling, the Ecco Yucatan feels just right. I've found the sandal for my next bike tour!