Adidas Are Kickin’ It… The Gravel Cycling Shoe

Yeah, that’s the name, The Gravel Cycling Shoe. Yep, that’s the best they could manage. Budget cuts, they say…


I’ve always been an Adidas man.

Until I wasn’t.

Then I wasn’t.

The love affair started when I was about 8. Adidas had just brought out the Copa Mundial in 1979 and my little football-playing self was entranced. The simplicity of the design, the classic three lines, the silver lettering, the kangaroo upper, what’s not to love? Unless you’re a kangaroo…

Thinking on it now, the Copa Mundial shoe was the first object I can remember taking note of in any serious way and triggered a love of design that’s been with me ever since. I remember going into every sports shop I could (normal behaviour for an 8 year old kid if you ask me – maybe not these days but it was in 1980 anyway) and heading to the shoe section, grabbing a Copa and standing there with the shining wonder of the thing washing over me. Years later I got a pair myself and when I got home I put the shoes on the kitchen table and sat there looking at them for what felt like an age.

I do the same with new cycling shoes and bikes too. My last new bike, I stood it in front of the TV and sat on the sofa with a cup of coffee, just appreciating the uninhibited glory of the thing. No music on, no distractions, just allowing my eye to take in the beauty before me. This isn’t a love of design for design’s sake alone, the object has to have a purpose, and what greater purpose can something have than to get you outside, with the blood pumping and the lungs heaving, feeling alive and put a huge smile on your face?

If it looks great too?

Perfection.

The original Copa Mundial. I rest my case.

So, that was it. Adidas for life. I’ve had a few pairs of Puma’s classic shoes over the years and don’t feel too guilty about that, as the founder of Adidas, Adolf Dassler, is the brother of the founder of Puma, Rudolf Dassler – so it’s kind of ‘keeping it in the family’ if you ask me.

Super tight! It’s the Puma Basket

But Nike? NEVER! To me they were the big brash ‘New Money’ kids, stomping in with a name I never quite knew how to pronounce (Naik? Nykeeee? Sort your name out!), and they lacked pedigree, in my opinion. Where was their Copa Mundial? Or their King? Or their Stan Smith?

Puma King, a rival to the Copa Mundial.
‘This face on your tongue’ does sound weird, but with the Stan Smith trainer, that’s what you get.

But then the 2000s reared up and there was no doubt that Adidas were losing some of their magic. Their designs suggested that their creative team were spending more time worrying about how to compete with Nike than staying true to their original design philosophies. Things will and must change of course, but Nike were slaying Adidas and indeed everyone else with not only the sharpness of their shoes but the sheer volume of new styles that made you wonder if the things weren’t mating and sending their offspring to go forth and eat Adidas.

Things got so bad that…. yes I have to admit it. I bought a pair of Nikes. And then another, and then… Yes, I do need help. Nike shoes had better materials, were lighter than any Adidas pair and they just worked better. I was doing a lot of trail running back then in Japan and though I wanted to get a solid pair of Adidas trail runners, I couldn’t. So, it was off to the Nikeeeey store to give my hard earned yen to them instead.

I recently decided that I was going to go back to Adidas, enough was enough. It was time to make a stand. And then they did this.

I just hate these shoes. The upper offers no support and after any length of time your toe will start poking through and they’re then ruined. The blue and red add-ons, at first I thought they were ok but they do look like a 3-year old stuck them on there. I guess it was an attempt to summon the spirit of another Adidas classic, the Kegler Super (below), which is, wait for it – a bowling shoe.

But all that is forgiveable, and you can choose a different style from the range. But then we get to the real issue: the sole (and this sole is featured on all their top-end sneakers these days).

They’re just really heavy, they absorb dirt so they start looking filthy after 2 weeks, and, well, they’re ugly.

But. There may be hope for Adidas.

And it’s coming thanks to their new cycling shoe range. First they launched the VeloSamba, which got me excited in a way a shoe really shouldn’t. Based on the classic Samba which was designed back in 1949 to help football players train on icy and concrete pitches, the shoe comes in 4 colours, features a foot plate and the very cool gum sole of the original Samba.

Recently they launched another shoe, named Road Cycling Shoe, snappy that, that was also well received. Featuring recycled materials and a retro lacing, they retail for $150US, and for that price you’re not getting a top-end shoe but, you are getting a distinctive football-shoe inspired look. Not bad.

Adidas of course do have some previous when it comes to cycling shoes, having supplied shoes to several top riders and even to the great Eddy Merckx, who, like Stan, got his face on the tongue.

And just yesterday they upped the ante by a few more chips and announced a new shoe for cycling, called:

The Gravel Cycling Shoe.

Name aside, they look good, retails at $170US, and comes in two colors. Well, one is colored, and the other is black.


They’re made again from recycled material and feature a synthetic sole, and just like the Road Cycling Shoe, they’re lace up, not a BOA in sight. The neoprene ankle ‘sleeve’ is designed to keep pebbles and dirt out of the shoe.

Whether the shoes will do the job they’re designed for is another thing, but yeah, I like them and it’s great to see them making forays into cycling again. Now, if only they could sort out their runners…

Author: crankpunk

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist.

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