O’NEAL LOAM WP SPD SHOE REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston // @robert_johnston
Photography by Adam Lievesley // @adamlievesleybmx
Riding in the Scottish winter months provides conditions that require either a very brave face or an appropriate kit to tackle the wet and cold. Whilst there is a plethora of performance clothing to provide the warmth and water resistance a rider seeks in these conditions, the performance footwear market is arguably less catered for, with few options for SPD riders looking for a seriously weatherproof shoe that supports “proper” aggressive riding.
In comes O’Neal with their solution to this market gap, the Loam WP SPD shoe. We shipped a set to a shredder up in the Highlands of Scotland to be put through the ringer in the snow and slop over a harsh Winter on two wheels.
The Loam WP SPD shoe is what O’Neal claims to be one of the most versatile shoes in the mountain bike market. As the name suggests, the Loam WP SPD shoe is a fully waterproof shoe with mountings for SPD pedal cleats; with a claimed 3-4 season use offering. They have achieved this versatility with the addition of a thin layer of insulation to provide just a small amount of warmth; and have increased the volume of the toe box to ensure the toes are free to move so blood can circulate. A waterproof yet breathable outer made from a combination of synthetic materials keeps the elements out without things becoming too stuffy in the heat. Adding to the weather resistance is a fully sewn tongue; Velcro “lace” cover and a neoprene gaiter to prevent dirt ingress, avoiding the dreaded feeling of dirt and stones between your toes. Much like the Sender Pro shoes, the Loam WP SPD’s use O’Neal’s BOA-like MOZ rotary quick release fastener, which allows for well distributed shoe fastening to be achieved in just a quick turn of a dial.
Power transfer duties are bolstered by a thin steel shank, with an additional nylon insert in the midsole to add to the stiffness underfoot. To ensure the Loam WP SPD’s can handle the rigors of Enduro and downhill racing, the outer features strong rubber reinforcements on the toe and heel to resist abrasion and protect the foot from damage during aggressive riding. A padded layer around the ankle hugs the rear of the foot to add an extra level of comfort and security. On the outside, there is a huge recess to allow for the use of any clipless pedal system, surrounded by a lugged “adventure outsole” that is designed to offer high levels of grip both on and off the pedals. At €139.99/$165, the Loam WP’s sit firmly at the premium end of the market, with a packed list of features to match.
Being a dedicated flat pedal rider myself, the Loam WP SPD’s were provided to a trusted shredder in the Highlands of Scotland for the ultimate winter conditions test. Here is what he had to say about them after a Winter of snow and sub-zero conditions.
Comfort: The Loam WP shoes are generally comfy, with the highly padded upper heel support hugging the ankle nicely. Unlike other shoes with a highly stiff backing that can dig in, the pronounced padded area prevents any sinking into the heel when first slipping the shoe on and remains comfortable throughout riding. The only notion of discomfort was caused by the MOZ system digging into the front of the foot slightly at the uppermost section of wire, which sits a touch too far up the tongue. This occasionally made it difficult to strike a balance between optimal tightness and long-term comfort, but the occasional readjustment tended to fix this.
Weatherproofness: Resilience to the elements is a very strong point for the Loam WP shoes, with the fleece-like inner providing warmth; and the lace cover effectively keeping the general splashes and roost from riding from getting your feet wet. The material used on the outside is fairly splash proof also. The ‘sock’ style neoprene gaiter was great for keeping pine needles and stones out and kept the wind from finding its way into the shoe, making them ideal for the bleak Winter riding conditions in Scotland.
Feel: The overall shape of the sole is nice without too much of a “kick” at the toe, which pairs with the reasonable sole width to keep things in place when unclipped and trying to ride something out. They are a little bit flexible however, which can be particularly noticeable when rolling the ankles on the bike, this is mainly down to the sole which is not the stiffest, and the very large cleat hole. The large cleat hole seemed to clog up as any other shoe does in the gloopiest of Scottish mud, but it is safe to assume that the voluminous cleat recess would clear well in slightly drier conditions. This large cleat hole made it feel a bit like you could have the shoe sitting on the pedal cleat mechanism but not in the cleat, becoming almost lost in the gap, but this was not a common occurrence.
Durability: The testing Scottish conditions have so far left the Loam WP SPD’s without any significant wear, though this has not been a particularly long-term test to fully comment. However, the tough toe protection and well-hidden stitching suggests the Loam WP’s will continue to perform for the long haul.
The O’Neal Loam WP provides a solid option for riders looking for an SPD shoe that combines aggressive riding capabilities with comfort in most conditions. The slightly more flexible sole than some may not be to everyone’s preference, and the large cleat offering can reduce the likelihood of clipping in successfully at times, but these are only minor issues that we imagine would allow the Loam WP to remain on many riders Wishlists.
Price: £120 /€139.99 /$165