Friday, April 10, 2009

D2 Shoe Review: The shoes arrive

The FedEx guy played an April Fool's prank on me. Given how many cycling shoes I've had in my life, it's surprising how excited I was to get home to check out the new kicks.

Earlier in the day I received an e-mail that told me the shoes had been delivered. So arriving home the first thing I did is ask my wife where she had stashed the box. But she hadn't seen it. No sign of it on the porch, at the back door, anywhere.

A call to FedEx didn't help either. They said they would begin the tracking process, but worst case it would take a week to figure everything out. 5 minutes later though we saw the box from D2...on my neighbor's porch.

Did I mention I was excited?

I'll write a follow-up review once I've had more time riding the shoes. Although I have about a week into them and raced with them last weekend, I'd like more time to provide deeper insight.

In some ways though it's going to be hard to compare these to any other shoes I've worn. The usual shoe-review drivel doesn't apply. These dogs are a different breed. When you have a set of shoes with lasts and soles picked and tailored around a mold of your foot, it's a very different experience.

For now though here are a slew of pics and some first impressions:

First off, the shoes are fantastically light. Rider 3 (who stopped over on his way home from work, nice guy that he is) was especially impressed with this. Now, one of the guys at D2 said he's heard people say they can climb a gear higher once they get the shoes, but I also remember getting new sneakers when I was a little kid and telling my mom that I could "run faster, jump higher!" than ever before. These are really good shoes, and I'd love it if they could make me climb faster, but I'm not sure they're THAT good.

The orthotics feel great. I've had a number of sets of orthotics, but never a set that are cycling specific. The difference between these and an over-the-counter set like Superfeet, eSoles, Specialized, etc. is massive. They're not even in the same conversation, really. And I have a set of Shimano heat-moldable M-300s. Again, the insoles don't begin to compare.

The orthotics aren't perfect yet though. I sent them back to Colorado for a minor adjustment. I'm fine with this though, and in fact most orthotics I've had have needed a tweak here or there. 

This is the first set of shoes I think I've ever had that fits well through the toe box. I can't tell you how nice this is. Of course it required a size 4E last, but whatever. And the heel cup is perfect. I'm totally locked in. This is the first time for sure that I've had a wide enough shoe up front without significant heel lift. 

Below you can check out the material on the heel cup. This is new for 2009, and feels a lot like the material you'll find on the toe of a hockey skate. I'm not sure if D2 will appreciate this comparison, but it looks tough, is extremely supportive, is stiff in the right places and looks fly to boot.

I love 3 strap shoes. In my opinion it's the most comfortable set up. Unfortunately, 3 strap shoes have been relegated to the least expensive models in most manufacturers shoe lines. Plus, with a shoe that fits as well as these, you barely need the straps. Seriously.

How trick is the sailcloth? The yellow and black stripes are fibers of kevlar and carbon fiber. It's light, extremely stiff, yet molds around my foot perfectly.

Also new this year is a change to where the sailcloth is used. If you look at the shoes in the gallery on the D2 site  you'll notice that the sailcloth attaches to all three straps. Now it's just the top two. I asked Don at D2 about this and he explained that it's to give the front of the foot more room to swell during hot weather. This makes perfect sense, and it's an experience that most riders have had to work around at some point.

More to come once the orthotics come back and I have a few hundred more miles on the shoes. In the mean time, enjoy a handful of happy snaps.

From D2 Shoes
Not the white arrows on the sole. This is no align the cleats just behind the ball of my foot.

From D2 Shoes

From D2 Shoes

D2 is using a bit less sailcloth than last year's model.

From D2 Shoes

From D2 Shoes
LOVE the heel cup. The material is soft, but the cup itself is extremely supportive.

From D2 Shoes
Not a great shot, but I'm looking forward to riding with these.

From D2 Shoes
The heelcup uses a new material this year.

From D2 Shoes

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