Pair Number 25

This is my first bicycle touring shoe. I have been working on this prototype for a while. One day, Joel Metz, a local bike guy, brought some Carnac touring shoes from his collection for my inspection. I really loved the classic look and the straightforward design. No liner, big holes, low heel. Best of all, there was no messy cleat interface to accommodate.

Joel later emailed me some pictures of bike shoes from his catalogs. The pictures he sent included shoes from 1890, 1900, 1920, 1930, 1940 and 1960. The design I chose to reproduce is from 1960.

These shoes have been reinforced just under the ball of the foot to keep the sole from flexing too much while pedaling. It was designed to be used with clip and strap pedals. You could use them on any pedals you want, though the cage pedals will chew into the leather sole. Flat pedals would be fine, or no pedals at all. I think they will make fine summer dance shoes.

The spring steel shank on this shoe is right through the crease line. The crease line is the line on a diagonal from the big toe ball mount to the little toe ball mount. When you walk forward, the shoe bends on that line. The shank is noticeable when walking, but not too weird. These are totally walkable compared to a hard plastic touring or racing shoe.

shoe-w-clip-and-strapThe upper is vegetable tanned pig skin. There is no upper liner, but the foot bed liner is veg tan cow. The sole is nubuk finished red Italian soling leather. I’m going to take them for a spin on the bike this week and cut a slot for the rear cage of the pedal.

I also learned from Joel that touring shoes were sometimes made with a wooden sole. I’m going to give that a try sometime soon.

8 Replies to “Pair Number 25”

  1. I still ride with clips & straps and struggle to find the right shoes. I also, coincidentally, know Joel from when we were both messengers in SF. Are you planning to make more shoes and sell them because I would love to have a pair!

  2. If there’s enough interest, I would considering making them in fixed sizes. They are, of course, always available custom.

  3. I really like this. It’s breathable like a sandal, somewhat functional like a bike shoe, and stylish like a dress shoe.

    I can’t justify the cost of a custom pair now, but I think I would enjoy this shoe a lot.

    (found via

  4. Nice shoes, however I wonder if the sole being tread-less will allow the shoe to move around too much in wet weather. In fact, I’m certain it will as I have a pair of Specialized Somas, without a real tread (made for clippies), and when its wet they don’t grip the pedal well enough.

    Avocet used to make touring shoes that had ridges on the sole where the shoe would interface with the pedal’s edge. It keeps the shoe from floating back and forth. Otherwise, one has to compensate by cinching down hard on the strap to keep the shoe from moving too much.

    The other thought is a fixed offering, since $800 is way over my head and probably 99% of people who buy shoes. Can people really afford $800?

  5. Alain, as you point out, wet leather on metal would not give you the best grip. I did have a plan…I rode around a bit to get the mark from the rear raised part of the pedal on the sole of the shoe. Some shoes had a cleat that you would attach to get the lock on the pedal. I’m planning to just cut a slot in the leather and see how it goes.

    On the price of shoes, here in the US, $800 sounds expensive, but in Europe they start at 800 euros. In the US we don’t go for shoes so much as boots. You don’t even have to leave Oregon to find custom cowboy boots that start at $1,000. See DW Frommer’s site: and note the 3 year waiting list…

    I’m just getting started and I can only hope that someday I’ll have a 3 year waiting list!

  6. Wow, Jeff, what amazing shoes, and what amazing craftsmanship! Gorgeous! Have just used up an hour of my morning looking through your site and oggling your gorgeous designs. $800 is a complete *steal* when one considers that they’re handmade, that each pair is completely unique, like no other in the world, that they’re custom fit, that they’ll last way longer than mass-produced shoes, that they’re made with love and care and skill by a person and not a machine — I’m honestly surprised these don’t cost significantly more!

    Keep up the great work and your commitment to exquisite craftsmanship!

    PS Found you via the nice photo link on the home page of the stunning Renovo wood bicycles.

  7. All I can say is, ¡caramba!

    Even though I don’t think I can stretch to the price of a custom pair (though they clearly seem worth it) a production pair I might pop for, even though I imagine they’d be significantly pricier because of their limited-production nature. GOOD cycling shoes thst are truly clip/strap specific are extrenmely thin on the ground, as you know.

    – Barrett

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