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Chrome Lower Southside Pro

Casual SPD shoes have come a long way, going from the hiking boot styles or neon kicks of a decade ago, to models that only those in the know suspect hide a cleat. The tradeoff in each iteration has been a balance of riding stiffness to walking—too supple and you may experience pain around the cleat or foot arch when riding, too stiff and you end up walking like a duck. The “Pro” line from Chrome errs on the side of riding stiffness in a shoe that looks like a shoe, and after a few months on the Lower Southside Pro I’m pretty sure Chrome is on the right track.

The Lower Southside Pro has oiled leather uppers with more breathable polyester side panels and a full length, two-stage nylon plate in the sole for rigidity, and to allow some walking flexibility throughout the toe box. The Southside Pro shoes are stiff around the cleat, on a level more typical of racing shoes but not quite to the carbon sole level. It’s also immediately apparent that they’re hefty, something I’ve been critical of with most every casual SPD shoe I’ve worn. After some time on the bike I’ve grown to really like the feel of the Southside Pros, with no hot spots or foot pain to speak of. I’ve used Crank Brothers Eggbeater pedals since shortly after their debut, and due to their non-existent platform and reliance on the shoe for all foot support can create some significant pain for me on rides of any distance if I use anything but “real” clipless shoes. No such problems with these shoes, they don’t feel like race shoes but they do feel rigid. Off the bike they more or less feel like walking around in cycling shoes, though the subtle flex in the toe does help to mitigate the feeling of rocking end to end across the sole. I do not regret wearing these to office and to lunch meetings.

Weight aside, I like these shoes and I find myself picking them up more often than not when wanting to clip in and ride around town. By proxy I end up riding nicer bikes around town more often. They’re serious feeling riding shoes in a package you can wear at the bar without feeling like a clown or getting called Lance. Available in grey or black for $120 from your local shop or direct at