Product Test: Afton Vectal Clip Shoes
Afton is a small fish making a big splash in the mountain bike industry. The newly founded shoe company has already had success with multiple UCI World Cup DH podiums, a U.S. National DH Championship and even an X Games gold medal, which is no easy feat, especially considering the company only offers two models. The Vectal shoes tested here are Afton’s clip-in shoes built for racers. Meanwhile, the Keegan shoes offer flat soles for style and fun. Both models, however, combine the look of casual wear with performance technology. So, let’s dive in and see what makes Afton’s shoe podium-ready.
Tech features: The Vectal is a casual-looking shoe that comes in a variety of colors that will make you think you’re shopping for a new pair of Vans instead of a traditional pair of cycling shoes. The designs include different-colored soles, such as black, white or gum, giving these kicks a classic skate-shoe appearance. The Vectal, however, is about more than just looks.
Afton went above and beyond to make sure these shoes could perform at their best. A quick look underneath reveals an oversized clip-box design to seamlessly clip in and out. The shoes have a shank that varies in thickness from 4mm to 12mm, offering comfort when walking, as well as excellent pedaling performance. There is an anti-microbial foam in the insoles to combat odors that also provides heel and arch support. The outer sole features a second-generation (from their initial 2017 design) rubber called Intact. Afton claims the new generation of Intact rubber is more resilient than before while continuing to offer a soft and grippy feel. The Vectal shoes sell for a competitive $120 and tipped our scale at 1049 grams for the pair.
Field test results: Upon lacing the shoes to our feet, we noticed a good design fit that quickly earned our test riders’ approval. The Velcro straps were also cleverly designed, simply flapping over one another instead of using a plastic loop. This strap is primarily designed to prevent your laces from flopping into your chainring and offers little adjustment for fit. The traditional-style laces, however, handle that job well.
We mounted a pair of SPD cleats to our shoes without shims underneath and did the majority of our testing with Shimano’s updated XTR Trail pedals. These feature a wider platform than the previous version. The Vectals are far from being stiff XC shoes but seemed to be well-suited for trail riding and even downhill racing. The rein-forced toe cap offers protection, but only to the very tip of the shoe. The tops of your toes are still vulnerable to debris, rocks or roots. That said, the low-profile design is sleek. True downhill racers may want additional protection, but will appreciate the connection felt between the rider and the bike.
Overall, these shoes ticked all the boxes for our test riders, offering comfort, style and function. If ankle coverage and maximum protection are on your short list, you won’t find them here, but what you will find is a high-tech pair of shoes for a great price that will keep you hip, on or off the trails. aftonshoes.com