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DZR Minnas: Walking-Friendly, SPD-Compatible Bike Shoes

by BluesCat

I like SPD clipless pedals, but I’ve always hated the look of the majority of the SPD-compatible shoes and the fact that most of the shoes aren’t really made for walking. Instead they just ENABLE you dismount and walk around without the pedal cleats clacking against the floor; setting up a racket like you’re auditioning for a tap-dancing part in a Fred Astaire movie.

There is a big difference between “walkable” and “walk friendly,” as I explained in “SPD: More Mettle to the Pedals.”

DZR Minna Shoes

DZR Minna SPD Compatible Cycling Shoes

DZR seems to appreciate that first part, because none of their line of shoes looks like a typical SPD bike shoe. Sure, they have some avant-garde styles like the limited-edition Zurich boot, but nothing like the George Jetson Dress Shoe look of my old Shimano M076′s.

My standard office attire is business casual: a pair of khaki’s and a polo shirt. When I’m shod with my Shimano’s, people definitely notice I’m wearing bike shoes. But when I started testing a pair of DZR Minna’s I found they are so like regular shoes that nobody noticed.

DZR Minna Shoes

 

At the end of the first day of wearing them around the office, I resorted to asking our receptionist “Hey! You haven’t said how you like my new shoes!” She looked down at them and said “Oh. They’re nice.” Then I turned to the right and lifted the right shoe up so she could see the cleat bolted to the bottom of the sole and she said “Wow! Bike shoes? Now that’s pretty neat!”

So they pass the appearance test, but how do the Minnas work for walking around? Are they a walk-friendly shoe you can wear all day?

Years ago, a bout with foot problems forced me to get a layman’s education on what makes for a good walking shoe, and I put that knowledge to use from the moment I first put on the Minnas.

The first thing I noticed was that the Minna’s have a generous toe box. Not only could I wiggle my toes freely, but I could also splay my toes slightly. This was a promising sign, because a good shoe shouldn’t crimp your toes together like a pointy-toed woman’s fashion shoe. In addition to being uncomfortable, according to some experts a shoe which pinches your toes towards one another can lead to bunions and hammer toes.

DZR Minna Shoes

The vamp of a shoe is that part of the upper which contains the tongue and the lace eyelets. Even with shoes of a proper width for my narrow, flat feet, sometimes the material in the vamp is so generous that the laces easily pull the sides of the shoe together over the tongue, so the sides of the upper almost meet. This can mean a fit which is too loose.

The Minnas have a decently sized tongue, with just the right amount of height to upper from the eyelets to the sole, so a broad range of foot height and width at the arch can be accommodated by these shoes.

For me, the heel counters have just the right amount of curve at the top, so my foot did not suffer from heel lift. I had no problem using my standard brand of aftermarket insole, the PROFOOT 2oz. Miracle, which serves to keep my ultra-narrow heel from banging left and right like a bell clanger. Folks with a more normal heel width shouldn’t have any problem using the insoles which come standard from DZR.

The width of the soles is better that some of the regular shoes I’ve had. I like a wide sole because it serves to keep my feet from rolling inward or outward.

The majority of podiatrists I’ve spoken with have said that for most people a walking shoe should have a stiff sole in the mid-foot area, and should flex primarily in the area at the base of the toes. A bike shoe should also have a stiff sole in the mid-foot area. You don’t want your shoe folding and bending over the pedal clip mechanism; that will cause you a decent amount of discomfort.

DZR has a technology called Variable Flex Shank (VFS) which, according to their product literature, is stiff and flexible in the proper places. It certainly worked for me. I walked around the office for two days straight wearing the Minnas and my feet were comfortable the whole time. The gum rubber sole bottoms were nice and grippy, whether on the tiled floor of the office or the platform pedals.

DZR Minna Shoes

Close up of the cleat

While on the bike, the Minnas did their job well. There was no problem with clipping and un-clipping. The amply sized hole for the SPD cleat allowed a full range of proper motion, whether I was using single- or multi-directional release models.  The uppers of the shoes stretch more than my other bike shoes, but this did not cause a problem with either performance or comfort.

It is the nature of the beast that walkable bike shoes will have a lump in the sole in the area of the bolt holes for the cleats. There is no way around the fact that the sole needs to be thickened in that area to endure the stress of tugging and mashing on the pedal clip mechanisms. To DZR’s credit, they seem to have done a good job of minimizing the obtrusiveness of that lump. By the end of the day, I hardly noticed it.

With a tasteful design incorporating nylon fabric, suede and smooth leather, I think the Minnas are a good value at $105 USD.

And you won’t look like a Space Pirate while wearing them!


BluesCatBluesCat is a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, who originally returned to bicycling in 2002 in order to help his son get the Boy Scout Cycling merit badge. His bikes sat idle until the summer of 2008 when gas prices spiked at over $4.00 per gallon. Since then, he has become active cycling, day-touring, commuting by bike, blogging (azbluescat.blogspot.com) and giving grief to the forum editors in the on-line cycling community.

 
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8 Responses to “DZR Minnas: Walking-Friendly, SPD-Compatible Bike Shoes”

  1. Sean says:

    I personally find that these “hybrid” style shoes are just not functional enough on the bike except for maybe a quick trips about town in civilized clothes. I wouldn’t wear them at the office either as I leave a couple pairs of office shoes there instead. I find the shank too soft on this type of shoe and prefer to wear still soled cycling shoes for commuting. YMMV

  2. Sean says:

    “stiff soled cycling shoes”

  3. Brendan says:

    I really wish they would remake the DZR/Mission Workshop Rondels. I really like the understated look of them. It will be a sad day when my pair finally gives out. Really great SPD shoes, far superior to the garbage Chrome puts out.

  4. Ray says:

    Bluesy,
    I’ve enjoyed my Nashbar Ragster II sandals on my commute each day and recently, a friend replaced his road pedals with SPD (Shimano 540) pedals on his road bike, got a pair of the Ragster sandals, and proceeded to ride “RAGBRAI 2013″. I’m going to be switching out my road clippy pedals for the Shimano 540′s and wearing my sandals on the upcoming “Mountains to Coast” bike ride in North Carolina. Yea, I’ll have my mountain bike shoes if (when) the temperature drops below the low 50′s.

    You should see if Nashbar would send you a pair for a review.

  5. BluesCat says:

    Sean – The foot problems I mentioned in the article have resulted in my requiring a very stiff soled shoe if I am to walk any distance free of pain. The Minnas satisfy that requirement for my feet.

    That being said, here’s a little interesting tidbit of information:
    The human foot is comprised of “26 bones, 33 joints (20 of which are actively articulated), and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments.” – Wikipedia
    This means your feet are so unique to you that what is a perfect shoe for someone else may be foot torture for you. You’d have to try a pair of DZR’s to see if they’d work for you.

    Most retailers of DZR shores are online, and my understanding is that a lot these dealers have a pretty good return policy as long as the product is “in like new condition.” You’d have to check, up front, before ordering if you wanted to try them out; and only walk around the carpet at home during your testing.

    Brendan – Yeah, the all-leather upper of the old Rondels is a real winner in my book, too.

    Ray – Again, because of the aforementioned foot problems, I always use an aftermarket insole in my shoes and, unfortunately, that pretty much eliminates sandals. Too bad, too, because in the desert heat a pair of sandals would be MUCH more comfortable!

  6. Ryan Olson says:

    Are the cleats are recessed enough that they don’t hit the floor? I had a pair of DZRs once, but the cleats hit my hardwood floors enough that I was worried about scratching.

  7. BluesCat says:

    Ryan – There are occasions when the cleat on every SPD shoe I’ve worn has clacked on a floor which has a very uneven surface. For instance, the flooring in a part of my gym is called Pebble Tec (small, smooth rock pebbles are embedded in an epoxy matrix), and has a REALLY uneven surface, so I hear my cleats “scritching” against it quite often.

    But the DZR’s do not do it as much as my old Shimanos. I don’t know whether the cleat is recessed more on the DZR’s or if the sole on the Shimanos is just worn down more. I DO know that on older model DZR’s you cut out the hole in sole in the with a utility knife in order to reveal the bolt holes for the cleats. On these new Minnas, you unbolt a cover in the hole and remove it, so maybe the new DZR soles are somewhat thicker?

    If your hardwood floors have a really pronounced wood grain, I could see were you might have a problem with scratching. Maybe the solution would be some carpet runners wherever you’re going to be dancing around in your bike shoes?

  8. Vincent says:

    I had DZR shoes for a while. Unfortunately I do not think I would purchase them again. They only lasted about 7 months of daily use before falling apart. Additionally I found they hurt my feet.

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