I got the chance to get my hands on a pair of DZR’s Minna shoes.  I’ve reviewed the H2O’s by DZR and really like them for commuting in wet climates.  The Minna’s are a completely different set of shoes and, yet, DZR has managed to build some familiarity into them.

Unboxing the shoes (check out the gallery above for the complete unboxing) your first look is of DZR’s shoe box.  A cool cyclist take on what a shoe box should be: chain link side cut out with a view of a sprocket leaning up against a building wall.  To each their own.  It’s cool, and I like it.

DZR wraps their shoes in a light fabric in the box avoid any scratching and to provide a bit more protection.  This gets discarded pretty quickly to find the real deal underneath.  And honestly, the shoes look better in person.  Looking at them on DZR’s website doesn’t do these shoes justice.  I can say that I felt the same way about the H2O’s.  There’s something better about holding them in your hand and looking at them.  The different textures of the shoes work really well together.  The suede, rubber and natural leather work well together and give the shoe a nice, urban look.  Adding to the urban look is the artwork.  Unfortunately, the only people that are going to really appreciate this while the shoe is in use is…you.  You can’t see any of the cool art detail while the shoe is in use, but I would prefer it this way than to have the art showcased on the exterior of the shoe.  The art is cool, but it’s nicer to have it on the bottom and the inside of the shoe.

Installing the cleats on the shoes were easy. This did not take any great feat to accomplish; just a 5/32 allen wrench.  Once I had the cleats on, I had to test the shoes on my bike, naturally.  Mounting into the pedals was as easy as it should be.  The cleat cavity is nice and large so there is no interference with the pedals.  Riding around for the first time felt good, too.  The shoes had a nice stiff feeling when pedaling, and there wasn’t as much give as there was with the all leather H2O’s.

So far the Minna’s feel like a comfortable, solid urban cycling shoe.  I’ll post an update in a couple of weeks and give a fuller description of how they work in real life.  For now, check out more of the Minna’s on DZR’s website.

UPDATE:

So, I’ve used the Minna’s for the last couple of weeks in both casual and riding situations. My first adventure in them was to the grocery store.  I slapped the shoes on my feet, attached the bike cart to my bike and off I went.  The clip in was smooth and easy, and once I got going on my bike, I pushed and pulled the shoes hard against the pedals to see how they reacted.  I was pleasantly surprised. The shoes felt solid pushing down against the pedals and responsively stiff in the upswing.  This was a welcome change from the rather loose feeling that the H2O’s give due to their leather construction.  The rest of the ride to the grocery store was rather fast paced after realizing the power transfer from my legs to the pedals was more efficient.

Walking around in the store with the shoes on went fine.  I was concerned with a potentially wet floor and the cleats creating an unsafe scenario, but this wasn’t the case.  The rubber tread kept my safe and upright the entire time.

I wanted to test the Minna’s out on a bit of a longer ride, too, so I took a13 miles ride to see how they fared.  Knowing that the shoes responded well when being pushed, I chose to start the ride out pushing both myself and the shoes.  Again, no hesitation here when pushing the shoes.  This was the only instance where I thought that the shoes could be better.  I don’t feel like they have been engineered/designed for long distance riding.  It may be due to the uppers material not being stiff enough and fatiguing my feet during the ride or it may be the fact that I’m riding a single speed a long distance.  Maybe neither the shoe nor the bike were setup for a longer ride.  It’s not a terrible pain, but it just gets uncomfortable by the end of the ride.

I wore the shoes around casually during the last couple of weeks and had zero complaints about them.  They were comfortable to wear around.  The only thing that you have to get used to is the stiff nylon sole that gives your step a spring.  Again, this is an energy transfer system, so energy in, energy out.  You have to get used to toeing off a bit harder to ‘feel’ like you’re walking normal.

I spoke with DZR about the care of the shoes.  They looked so nice coming out of the box, that I wanted to make sure that I knew how to take care of them.  As with most mixed material shoes, some soap and warm water will go a long way in keeping them clean.  If you want to go the extra mile and put something on them before you wear them, applying some leather conditioner on them will extend their life.  This obviously only applies to the leather areas of the shoe.

These shoes are definitely urban shoes.  They are meant to be worn in an urban setting, meant to be ridden in an urban setting and ultimately meant to be enjoyed in an urban setting.  I found the shoes to be their most comfortable on rides less than 10 miles long.  Their look allows them to be worn with many different styles, too.

Find out more about the artist, Jeremiah Bal:

 

I have been looking for a set of waterproof biking shoes for a while.  After much deliberation I decided on the DZR H2O shoes.  Some of you may know about DZR.  For those that don’t, DZR makes bicycling shoes targeted at the urban audience and mountain bikers.  DZR shoes were born in Switzerland and are based in the grand city of San Francisco, CA.

I’ve been commuting heavily for the past two years on my bike and doing this in the Pacific Northwest requires some decent protection against the rain.  My old method of countering what the moister elements threw my way was to pack a set of socks in my waterproof bag and keep a set of dry shoes at work.  For the most part, this method proved to be both easy to maintain and sufficient for my needs.  The problems came when my riding shoes didn’t try out by the time I needed to head home.  It also didn’t help when I forgot to restock my dry sock supply once.

When I received the shoes, I opened the box and was amazed at how soft the leather felt.  DZR wasn’t kidding when they said supple leather.  I have found myself rubbing them at work when I’m talking because they feel so soft!  After I tried them on, my second impression was how stiff they were.  They reminded me of wearing a thick soled work boot.  This, of course, is intentionally designed into the shoe as part of DZR’s Task Collection which incorporates a co-molded nylon shank into the shoe.

The shoes that I wore before as a riding shoe are considered a running shoe.  Much more pliable than these H2O’s.  This was part of the shock in transitioning to this stiffer pair of shoes.  I’ve been wearing them for the past two weeks and have gotten used to the stiffness of the shoe.  After the first three days, I felt the shoes wearing in and they didn’t feel as stiff anymore.  My first week and a half of riding was dry weather in the shoes, too.  I thought I had somehow jinxed the weather I was used to by buying waterproof shoes.  Mother Nature was surely laughing to herself.  I didn’t have to wait too long for the rain to return and was ‘blessed’ with the chance to ride in some very heavy rains.

My decision to go with the DZR H2O was made easier because they were black leather and would work well with my work attire.  I wanted to have something that I could wear on and off the bike and still fit into a business casual work environment.  I feel that the aesthetics of these shoes accomplishes that with ease.  The harder part that I didn’t anticipate was the comfort of the shoes.  They fit my feet like a glove.  I was initially concerned with the width of the shoes, but they have since stretched to fit my feet nicely.  The insole/sole portion of the shoes do not make for a comfortable set of shoes.  I believe that this is because of 1) the co-molded nylon shank and 2) the inclusion of the SPD cleat screws.  I feel that both of these issues could be overcome with a better designed insole.  Truth be told, the insole that is included with the shoes is near pointless.  If you want a comfortable, waterproof shoe that looks great, buy these shoes and replace the insole with something that you find more comfortable.

The co-molded shank provides a lot of support during pedaling.  I can really get on my pedals and push hard up hills.  If this isn’t your style of riding, I would recommend against getting a shoe with this technology.  Even out of the rain, these shoes are great on a bike.  They feel good on your feet and stick to the pedals when needed (even better when you have cleats and pedals).

In researching these shoes, I realized that my feet would never be 100% dry by donning a pair of waterproof shoes.  This is something that you should keep in mind, too.  The top of the shoes remains wide open to the elements and the water running down your legs.  The tops of my socks still get wet.  This is still a better proposition for me than arriving to work with socks that are 75% wet and don’t dry out by the time you’re going home.

The point to take home about these shoes is that they are great.  The co-molded shank provides a lot of stability during pedaling and the shoes look great while doing it.  During the last couple of weeks, I got these shoes as wet as I possibly could and they shrugged it off like a bad day.  If you’re looking for a sturdy pair of good looking waterproof shoes, give these a consideration.

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