Afton Vectal Shoes
Words & Photos by Nic Hall
Afton shoes have recently come on the scene and are looking to offer riders another option in performance footwear. The brand has launched with two MTB offerings; the Keegan, which is a flat pedal, gravity-focused shoe and the Vectal, a clipless shoe with a bit more focus on pedal performance. We received a pair of Vectals a few months ago and have been putting in test miles ever since.
When I first saw the shoes I was taken back to my 1990’s Airwalks with large, white midsoles and black uppers. Afton offers the shoes in other colors and from the photos, they look better than the pair we received. I may not have been won over on looks alone, but as I dug into the information packet I realized there is more to these shoes than what meets the eye. The upper is made of a high strength, textured material that is well vented and durable. The shank has a bit of flex at the ball of the foot, but stays surprisingly stiff while pedaling thanks to the tapered 4mm to 12mm thickness. An anti-microbial molded foam insole helps control odor and supports the rider’s foot.
Ankle protection is minimal in the low top version we tested but that allows for a very comfortable fit and no crankarm or rear triangle contact points. The reinforced toe box offers moderate protection. The toe will take a head on strike to a rock or branch well, but the top of the shoe is fairly soft. Additional PU further helps keep the top of the toe box safe from deflections and abrasions.
Fastening is done via traditional laces and a Velcro strap over the ties.
Although I was not a fan of the color we received, once the shoes got some dirt on them, they didn’t stand out quite as much. They are very comfortable to walk in and I enjoyed wearing them during my test rides. Thanks to Afton’s Intact rubber, the shoes grip well on pedals and while walking over logs or rocks.
Overall the fit was pretty accurate however I had an issue with slipping in the heel cup. The slipping caused hot spots on my heels, but this may be due to my narrow foot. The double-edged sword of having comfortable padding on the tongue and around the ankle means the shoes are warm. They vent wheel when up to speed but may not be the first choice if you climb a lot in hot weather.
Pedaling characteristics are good. The shoe is stiff when putting power down but still flexes when needed. Cleat installation is straight forward thanks to the oversized clip box. Pedal engagement was quick and effortless. I mostly rode the shoes with my Crankbrothers Mallet E pedals and had no problems with pin interference. I intentionally rode unclipped through rock sections or techy corners and was pleased with the stability and grip on the pins.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Don’t let the simple, understated looks fool you, these shoes pack plenty of tech once you look deeper. Anti-microbial insoles, a reinforced toe box, Intact rubber soles and all around comfort make the Afton Vectal a very solid shoe. With several colors to chose from, we’d easily recommend Afton to someone looking for something new. Three months isn’t a very long test period in our books, but based on their current state, we’re confident proclaiming that they’re quite durable and will last a lot longer. Afton has entered the game ready to play and it’s exciting to see new brands trying to pry loose the shoe stranglehold.
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.
Heel Slip With Narrow Feet
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