Keen Coronado Cruiser

Bike-specific footwear has been around for decades. But casual cycling shoes are a newer phenomena. Shimano made SPD-compatible sandals in the hey day of mountain biking, Canada’s coolest shoe designer, John Fluevog, created the most stylish, cleat-friendly shoes during the same time a few years back. Today, during the current casual and urban cycling renaissance, companies like Keen are releasing casual, cycling-specific footwear.

I tested the Keen Coronado Cruiser, a shoe that is new for this year’s spring/summer line and costs $80. Available for men and women, its laid-back design takes equal inspiration from Converse’s Chuck Taylor and the lesser-known but stylish Jack Purcell shoe.

Keen Coronado Cruiser

The company claims this shoe “takes the features of a favorite beach bike and wraps it around the foot.” It has a breathable canvas exterior with soft leather and recycled rubber on the side. A panel of soft rubber under the ball of the foot gives better grip on bike pedals.

In my test, I have found the Coronado Cruisers to be a good choice for commutes and casual rides. I’ve been wearing mine for the past few months around the office and on my fixed-gear bike. Functionally, they offer plenty of grip for my platform pedals. The reinforced rubber toe box would likely fare well with toe clips, too. Off the bike, the shoes are super comfy and look good.

The shoes have held up except for one small tear, which popped up early in their use (but hasn’t gotten bigger). There is a small, vertical tear as long as half of a matchstick near the little toe area. I suspect the stiff section of the shoe ends here, and this flex point is causing the canvas to separate slightly. It has not affected performance. And with the look of the shoe, the outside eye may even think it’s intentional.

Is the tear a deal breaker? No. Heck, at some boutiques you may pay even more for this “distressed” look.

—Stephen Krcmar rides year-round in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.