Remember how you liked to bike in cool-looking shoes?, Like, maybe to work or a night out? Also, remember that it rains sometimes, maybe a lot? Cycling shoe fashionistas DZR have cracked the code: the fully waterproof H2O shoe.
Name: the H2O Waterproof Shoe
What it is: A sturdy leather shoe with a bike cleat option.
Strengths: Quality materials. Pretty dry, as these things go. Well thought out for cycling.
Weaknesses: Not great for wide feet. Don't have wide feet.
After years of cyclists looking awkward walking around in their bike shoes, a variety of companies have devoted themselves to making something you can bike in while not looking foolish or risking your life when it's time to walk. DZR, out of San Francisco, are at the forefront of this movement, with a dozen or more styles in both their men's and women's collections.
What was missing was a good wet-weather option. I say that as a commuter who lives in the world of the nine-month marine layer. There isn't really any such thing as a fully waterproof shoe -- eventually, if you ride far enough and it rains hard enough, it'll find a way in. That's why God invented newspaper bags to put over your socks.
But for the commuter or casual city rider, you can definitely make a shoe that will withstand light rain and generally moist conditions. The H2O is all of that, and then some. Among the water-deterring features:
- a fully-sealed foot compartment (tongue stitched to main panels), with no openings for water to sneak in except for down your ankle;
- Quality seams to ensure that compartment is really sealed;
- DWR (which I think refers to Durable Water Repellency) coated leather upper;
- a full hydro barrier preventing water from coming up through the sole (e.g. through the cleat inserts).
In light rain it works every bit as well as advertised, and in heavy rain, I'm not sure you could tell whether water came in anywhere else besides down your ankle. My money is on that being the real cause, and until the human ankle is redesigned to seal out water, I don't know how much more you could do. But the point is, wear the H2O on anything but the worst days and you'll get to your destination not just looking good, but feeling good too.
Unless you have wide feet, in which case you'll want to be very careful about sizing. That's an issue for me, but my feet aren't anyone else's problem, and I'm not sure this is an issue that DZR should be concerned about any more than the rest of the cycling world (which except for SIDI is pretty much uninterested in wide feet). But they are stiff shoes, for a good reason, so fit is important.
As for that reason, it's worth repeating (from past DZR shoe reviews) that the company's soul is in the biking world, and the shoes are constructed for that. They include a stiff metal-reinforced plate for pedal power, an elastic band that keeps laces tucked out of harm's way, and a bit of reflective material above the heel. More than that, they are just sturdy and warm, the kind of shoe that feels good out in the elements. The lining includes moisture-wicking mesh to prevent overheating. Style-wise, I'll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions, but the one thing the photos won't tell you is how soft that black leather is. It's soft, and doesn't feel at all like a shoe engineered for waterproofing. It's the kind of detail that might make you spend $169 on shoes.
Ultimately, whether the H2Os are worth that price is a matter of preference. If your bike is a part of your regular lifestyle, day and night, then it's probably perfect for you. No doubt DZR's home turf of San Francisco is the best fit, assuming cyclists can afford to be in town at all. Anyplace north of there would be fine too, and if these shoes aren't selling well in Vancouver, BC -- or London or Amsterdam, if they get there -- then someone in marketing needs to get on the stick. [They have dealers in Copenhagen and several in Austria so far.]
And if you live someplace warm and dry, or don't want to spend quite that much, I can recommend DZR's other models, which are lighter, simpler, and in some cases very much on sale (as low as $29 on their website). Check em out.