We’d admired the classic styling of the touring and city riding shoes from Quoc Pham for quite some time, and were happy this year to get ahold of a pair for some longer term testing. I’ve been riding around the city for more than half a year in the all leather mid-height boots, and have been mostly pleased. Probably the biggest improvement is that they’ve replaced my standard fare of commuting in regular mountain bike shoes and then changing into another pair of shoes at the office, so that it was possible to get around without screaming cyclist everywhere I went. Get the full lowdown on the boots, as well as one setup trick that they needed…
The Urbanite Mid boots are a traditionally constructed all leather lace-up shoe with a siped rubber sole and a cutout for an SPD cleat. The sole is fairly flexible, but gets a reinforced nylon shank through its mid section to stiffen it up around the cleat and offer pedaling comfort and efficiency. (We alternate calling them boots and shoes because Quo Pham calls them shoes, but we lean towards a variation on the chukka boot.)
On the outside the soles get a deep 9mm recess for the cleat that leaves about 3mm of clearance over our Crank Brothers cleats even with the shoe shields installed, so there is not any clicking as you walk. Inside the boots there is a recessed section at the sole of the shoe for the pedal insert/cleat nut that is then covered flush with a taped down piece of felt for a smooth transition. They then come with a set of light cork insoles.
Setting up the Urbanite was a little tricky as the material that makes up the cleat recess is relatively soft. When we installed a pair of Crank Brothers cleats, their relatively small footprint compressed the material when they were properly torqued causing the boots to be a bit difficult to clip in to a pedal (see the second image). What we didn’t notice at first was that the threads we were using of the pedal insert cinched down tight into the cleat’s holes making the other threads push up against the back of the cleat. As we tightened the cleat, the cleat nut actually bent a bit which made it rise up on the inside of the shoe (as you can see in the third image) creating an edge inside the shoe that caused discomfort through the felt liner and cork insole. We opened up the shoe, straightened out the cleat nut, and reinstalled the cleats with Crank Brothers shoe shields which help a bit to spread the compression on the sole plate. Since then we haven’t had any further issues, but would probably rather see the shoes ship with a single position cleat nut which would have avoided the issue from the start.
Other than the slightly picky setup, the Urbanite Mid has been an excellent boot throughout our test. As a proper leather shoe, they were actually pretty stiff when I first put them on and had to be properly broken in. I made the mistake of lacing them super tight for the first ride and day wearing them and came home on the verge of getting blister on both feet. But I put them aside for a few days, and came back laced a bit looser for about a week to break them in correctly. Since then the fit has been perfect, and I can lace them either loose or tight depending on my mood and the type of socks I wear.
They are completely comfortable to wear all day, and feel great pedaling to and from the office, sitting at a desk, and walking around town. Their simple understated look has also been great as they look good with a pair of jeans or even something a bit more formal. It’s not to be underestimated how nice it is to have a pair of shoes that are all-day comfortable walking around and still clip in to a set of pedals to ride home. I can count the number of times I’ve ridden up the street on eggbeaters to pick something up or meet someone for a beer without putting on cycling shoes, because I just didn’t want to spend the time in mountain bike shoes. With these, that is totally gone. They are my new go-to for casually getting around by bike.
Based in the UK, Quoc Pham sells the Urbanite Mid for £180, but the ship worldwide and have distributors all over too. UK deliveries are free, EU shipping is £10 per pair of shoes, and £15 everywhere else.