At A Glance
When it comes to flat pedal shoes there is one brand in particular that immediately springs to mind; Five Ten. With their knowledge of climbing shoe rubber, Five Ten has carved a name as the go-to brand for flat pedal grip blended with casual styling. So how can a relative newcomer such as Afton Shoes dream to compete in a battle seemingly already won?Buy Shoes on
The secret to many a success is to go back to basics and Afton have vowed to keep things simple with their range - for now at least - and you’ll find just two models in their product list; the clipless Vectal and the flat-pedal-specific Keegan we have here.
In order to address the Five Ten shaped elephant in the room Afton have taken a highly commendable technical approach to proceedings with the Keegan. By adding a mono-directional shank to the outsole Afton has sought to create a solid platform that wont shirk the hard work when it comes to taking big landings, yet will still allow the wearer to walk comfortably when off the bike.
A reinforced toe box and a similarly sturdy external heel panel provide some much sought after cover externally, while inside there’s a well engineered heel cup to keep the foot locked down. Further inside there’s an elasticated tongue and one of the more substantial footbeds you’ll find in an MTB shoe.
The outsole is a recipe designed to offer a tacky yet durable finish, and with its honeycomb-like tread pattern should provide ample grip on uneven surfaces and pins alike. The Keegan’s uppers are very neatly crafted from a suede-like synthetic leather and the build quality is excellent, which is great to see from a young brand.
On The Trail
Handling the Keegan out of the box for the first time it’s obvious that a great deal of care and attention has gone into the construction of these shoes and that feeling is repeated when sliding your feet in for the first time.
The heel cup in particular offers a great balance between gripping the heel tightly enough that the heel wont lift and being soft enough that you’re not going to complain about any pressure points after a few hours of use.The elasticised straps either side of the soft tongue again provide a hug to your foot and combine to keep the Keegans solidly in place, whether twisting a foot on the pedals or hacking up a slope.
Of course it’s the performance of the sole unit where the battles are won and lost with flat shoes, and even when running a set of budget range flat pedals, the grip was very good indeed. In fact, this combination worked so well that a session running rough lines from a past enduro event failed to separate shoes from pedals on all but the lairyest ground.
As someone who rides both flat and clipless shoes I was impressed by the composure of the Keegan shoe and only on a few occasions had to make the conscious effort to push harder into the pins of the pedals, their low-cut profile offering a great range of movement at the ankle for twisting and adjusting to the balance point.
Off the bike the mono-directional shank works a treat in allowing the forefoot enough movement to flex comfortably; it’s very obvious just how flexible the Keegan is when walking in them and how impressively stiff they are when pushing down through the pedals. Stiffness and efficiency aside, it’s great to know that they’ll take the punishment over repeatedly rough trails.
The achilles heel of flat shoes is that they’re often not up to the demands of wet weather and many a pair of good looking shoes have come un-stuck after a season of mud, water and repeated, intensive drying. While they were never intended to be waterproof they did manage to stay relatively dry through some pretty wet trails where standing water was a prevalent feature.
Despite their abuse it was great to have a pair of shoes that still looked presentable enough to be worn to the pub post-ride. The grey, black and blue styling should satisfy those looking for a subtle colour way, while a red, white, grey, and black alternative does it for those in need of a little more oomph. Once another winter is over I can see these being a staple of summer riding.
While not an excellent companion for repeated wet weather use the Keegan is not just another sloppy soled skate shoe from the park. A svelte, robust, and grippy sneaker on the outside with a well considered, comfortable, and robust core; the Keegan is an impressive product from this young company and is definitely worthy of your consideration for a new pair of flat shoes. Five Ten, beware.
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By James SwannOriginally from Sheffield, James lives and works in the mountain bike mecca that is the Lake District and has been falling off bikes since he was six. In between working on bike events, riding bikes, racing bikes and writing about bikes he enjoys talking about bikes with anyone who will listen. He really likes bikes.