The Humble Chelsea boot is way more than indie fashion, certainly for cycling brand Quoc, who have created this commuter-friendly boot. At first glance, you probably wouldn’t think anything too much of it, a reasonably subtle-looking cycling shoe disguised as a boot, but when you look at it a little bit more, you start to wonder where one shoe can have two functions.
They are designed for the fashion-conscious commuter who wants to keep their costume changes minimum and have a casual, laid-back commute to the office. What I found with these boots, though, is that of many things designed to be two things – like sofa beds – they’re not entirely comfortable or functional, one way or the other.
While the Quoc Chelsea boot comes close, the design lets it down just a little; the sole is thick and bulky, looking more like a work boot than anything else. Two pink contracts straps on the top (to allow you to get the shoes on easier) are a little bit much and, with the recessed SPD cleats, I’m left scratching my head thinking: are these needed? They add to the thickness of the sole which is already walking boot enough to grip flat pedals… They’re a head-scratcher.
Made from suede, the front is waxed not only provides a two-tone look and protects your feet on drizzly days and road spray from your front wheel and the occasional puddle. The outsole is made from a cork-infused rubber, which Quoc say is more sustainable than the widely used Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate, or EVA, rubber soles.
The inner sole is super stiff, perfect for cycling, and not so perfect if you’re walking around the office or pub. Your foot tends to roll as you walk instead of bending at your toes like a shoe. The functionality of a cycling shoe has overtaken the function of an actual shoe. This is slightly odd. You’re likely walking in them more than riding your bike.
There is also a series of reflective dots on the heel of each boot which make up a stripe for extra visibility. Then there is the weight; these size 10’s weighed 557g per shoe, without cleats. That’s a heavy shoe!
QUOC CHELSEA BOOTS: THE RIDE
The Quoc Chelsea Boots perform perfectly fine on flat pedals and SPD cleats, too. I’d imagine people would use them more on flat pedals, though, as they’d likely want to walk without tapping across the floor. The stiff sole provides excellent resistance to the pedal stroke, ensuring you get the most out of each turn of the crank.
Being made of suede, they’re not the most breathable shoe, but again, I’d see these as an Autumn/Winter boot that would protect your feet from the elements. However, if they don’t breathe too well, after one year of use, they may end up a bit whiffy and consider the $180 / £180 outlay, which might be too much. This leads us nicely on to…
QUOC CHELSEA BOOTS: VALUE AND CONCLUSION
I’m struggling with the price of these boots. I’d want to feel comfortable on an evening out. They’re clunky and not the best-looking shoes.
On the flip side, if I spent $180 / £180 on cycling shoes, I’d expect them to be breathable, which these aren’t. They are, however, stiff and warm, which is what I’d expect from a winter cycling shoe.
Comparing them to the more trainer-style shoes, such as the Adidas Velosamba ($120.00 / £100.00), is almost like comparing apples and oranges, as they’re completely different styles. Still, we can see that they suffer similar fates. A stiff sole makes them tricky to walk in, and as you’ll likely be spending most of your day walking than commuting, this is something to bear in mind.
If you want something which is a bit more trainer-like and a bit easier to walk in, then the Shimano AM5 ($115.00 / £79.99) and Fizik Gravita ($149.99 / £134.99) are still cheaper than the Quoc Chelsea boot, and these impressed.
I can assume the price is slightly inflated because they’re two things in one.
Like when Homer Simpson designed a car, he tried to put everything into one, which turned out to be a bit of a disaster. While the Quoc Chelsea Boot is far from a disaster as it does function as both, it doesn’t function as well as you’d like them to.