I was intrigued when Teva announced their new clipless shoe offering, the Pivot; a stiff mountain bike shoe that doesn’t look like it came from Lady Ga-Ga’s closet held promise, but does it deliver?
Teva aimed to create an all mountain shoe that would be suited to all day use on the bike and not be a nightmare to walk in. They also wanted the shoe to be light (reported 892 grams per pair) and not get too stinky (antimicrobial padded insole). The shoes are constructed with a well-ventilated fancy closed-cell-foam padding that while looking porous and permeable actually stops water from entering the shoe. If by any chance water does make its way in the material will wick the pesky moisture away quickly. The Pivot isn’t a massive departure from other trail/all mountain offerings on the market but has some unique features worth mentioning.
The most ‘unique’ feature on the Pivot is that Teva has flipped the cleat-bolt paradigm on its head and allow users to enter from the top of the shoe with a supplied torx driver through a nifty shoe-tongue window. This allows users to make minor adjustments to the cleat while it is actually clipped in to the pedal. This also eliminates the feeling of bolts in your foot that improperly sized hardware can lead to. Mounting the cleats was relatively simple – Teva provides you with a host of bolts (regular and reverse mounted) to get your set up perfect. If you run your cleats slammed all the way to the heel of the shoe you may need to do some minor modification or use some body english to get them there but otherwise the inside-out set up is easy.
Teva’s background in walking and hiking shoes is evident and when it comes to walkability. The Pivot checks all the boxes… they feel like a ‘normal’ shoe. Teva cleverly designed the toe of the shoe to flex while everything from the cleat down is stiffened. This equals a good on pedal feel with 90% of the comfort of a normal shoe while off the bike. When it came to hikeability, however, the shoe falls short of its competitors in the casual clip-less shoe market. While the toe flex should help, there sole at the toe doesn’t provide much grip in slippery conditions and the same can be said for the sole as a whole. The Pivot is leagues above the traditional XC shoe for street use, but isn’t great for hiking.
Good clearance around the cleat means that clipping into pedals with platforms (such as Shimano DX) was a non-issue – no trimming of the sole required. Another added feature of the shoe is hard-plastic molding wrapped around parts of the shoe that often get wear. If you’re like me and the chainstays of your bikes all have wear spots, you’ll appreciate this little touch.
The first issue I had with these shoes was the feel of the cleat under the insole while riding. The steel cleat plate can be felt through the insole while walking and riding which can be a bit bothersome even though it’s not really a performance issue.
Second, I have to take issue with the fit/retention system of this shoe. I have a slender foot and I had to really over tighten both the laces and the strap system to get a fit I’m accustomed to (see ski boot tight). The velcro retention strap is excellent for getting a secure feel but the laces tucked underneath can lead to some pressure points during long rides.
Teva has accomplished what they set out to do with the Pivot: it is comfortable, lightweight, not mega-nerdy and you can walk in it all day. To that end they’ve done a great job it is one of the more comfortable mountain bike shoes I have ever tried once the laces were in the right position. However, a few hiccups like the feeling of the cleat beneath your foot and discomfort when tightened to ski boot level make it a few steps short of a true performance shoe. If you’re looking for a new race shoe, skip it, if you want something you can wear all day this may be your baby.
What do you value more in a clipless shoe? Walkability or on-bike feel?