I really hate spending money. My last polo shoes, a pair of 3 year old Mavic Alpines, were on sale on Nashbar when I bought them. I think I paid $35. It took a broken shank and not being able to clip in on the left side for a few weeks before I could talk myself into new polo shoes. I knew that I wanted something ‘normal’ looking, somewhat walk able, but really rigid. I’m a big guy who likes to hop a lot, so soft, flexy cycling shoes mean I’m gonna have sore feet for a while.
I decided on the DZR Mambas. There are a few reviews out there for these shoes and people seemed to be happy with them. A hundred some bucks later my shoes arrived.
I won’t lie – I went into this order having a mixed feeling about DZR. I had a pair of the DZR/Mission Workshop Randals when they were first released, and to be completely frank, I hated them. They were loose fitting, with a really soft shank. You could feel the pedal all day, and after about a half hour of riding they were uncomfortable. Basically they felt like Vans Classics with a clipless pedal underneath. I ended up selling them on eBay shortly after I got them and was very happy to see them go.
Brian at DZR (of Beaverboy fame) swore up and down that the new shoes were a huge improvement over models from the past. He wears them, and so do a lot of other bigger names in our sport. I took this with a grain of salt. I used to get bmx parts on the ultra cheap, and swore they were the best, but every time I broke one, I’d just ask for a new one…so they were the best. When you’re paying for something, you tend to be a bit more critical (by now, hopefully you can tell I wasn’t expecting a whole lot).
So my package arrived at my door, and the first thing I noticed was that the box these shoes come in probably cost 10 bucks. It’s downright beautiful for a shoe box. Cool graphics and cut outs and just awesome looking. Not the way I’d normally describe a shoe box. Anyway, box opened and there they were. I still had a cynical smirk on my face while I flipped the shoe over in my hand, scoffing at the high quality leather and stitch work. They look nice, but they’re too pretty to last long or play well.
Well, the thing is, they do last. And they work wonderfully. The shank is solid, but somehow still walk-able. Hopping around against the wall or in goal feels solid on the pedal, with very little, to no noticeable flex. Connection to the pedal is firm and grounded (in this case, Time Atac). Clip in-out is easy and predictable. And the fit is glove like.
Another thing that I didn’t anticipate really reaping the benefits of was the mid-top style. I caught two dead-on slap shots to the ankle the first night I had them on, and it felt a lot more like a dull thud than a 9 iron to the bone. I was glad I had them on.
So, down to brass tacks: For polo, these shoes are going to be difficult to beat. They look rad, they feel like a high end cycling shoe but walk like a semi-stiff sneaker, and are made of seriously quality materials. I’d see no issue wearing these to the bar after polo. They don’t jump out and scream “look at me I’m a cyclist.” They’re around $130, and you can order them through the site, or hit up Brian and see what tournaments they’ll be going to.
There are two downsides that I encountered, and these were eventually rectified. The first is the fit. Currently, they fit like a glove, but out of the box, they made my toes feel like they were going to fall off. Granted, they’re real leather, so stretch is expected. For the first two weeks I used them only for polo because they were just too tight to do anything else. By week 3 and 4, they were loosening up and now they fit wonderfully, so stick with it. They need broken in.
The second thing was that it took a long time to get used to the pedal engagement. To DZR’s compliment, the cleat is nicely recessed so there’s no contact with the ground. NONE at all. However, this also means you’re going to have to search for engagement a little more than, at least I, was used to. After a week or so of polo-only action, this became second nature. But the first few games were tricky.
Overall, I’d buy them again. The fit, while super snug at first, has become custom tailored over time. The play quality is high. Construction is great. Look is great. Customer service is great. Price is on point with good downhill style cycling shoes, and on the low side of good road or mountain cycling shoes, I’m just a cheap bastard.
Check them out at dzrshoes.com