Nashbar Sandals FTW
I got a late start this morning and didn’t actually make it out the door ’til about 10:30 (mostly because, though I was awake by around 8 AM, I became engrossed in a fascinating book about Chicago).
That meant a sticky ride — though not an unreasonably hot one, at sub-90F for much of the distance. It’s interesting how hot 87F can feel when it’s really muggy out (I guess that’s one of those obvious facts that still somehow seems surprising in practice).
Fortunately, my feet remained happy and comfortable due to the recent arrival of a pair of Nashbar’s “Ragster” sandals.
I felt pretty confident about purchasing the Ragsters, as they get good reviews and they’re pretty popular in my cycling circles. Turns out that their good reviews and popularity are well-warranted: the Ragsters are comfortable, practical, and surprisingly walkable even with the cleats installed. That comes in handy when you stop off to grab a drink or pick up a spare tube!
Cleat installation went according to the standard SPD/Crank Brothers’ process, with one caveat: you have to cut out the cleat-hole cover with a sharp knife (on many bike shoes, it comes as a separate piece). That seems like a small price to pay for a solid-quality SPD sandal at a good value ($50 US).
Yesterday, before I cut the cleat covers out, I walked around in my Ragsters for quite a while. I found them to be exceptionally comfortable off the bike — so much so that I’m giving serious thought to ordering a second pair to be used as regular sandals (though the footbeds may be a bit inflexible for that end).
Fit may be just a hair big relative to size — I normally wear a size 42 (Euro) in bike shoes, and I ordered my Ragsters in 41/42, and the fit is very good, with just a bit of extra ‘breathing room.’ In point of fact, I ordered the women’s version, both because they were out of the men’s in 41/42 and because my feet are unusually narrow, so I thought the women’s might fit nicely (I am not too proud to cross-dress if it means my kit fits better :D). The width is spot-on out of the box. I don’t have to crank the velcro down beyond all reason, then install additional velcro to make everything work right. The men’s version might have run a bit wide for me.
I have seen Ragsters live and in person before, so I fully expected to like the overall design. I wasn’t sure about the purple thread accents on the women’s version, but they actually look pretty cool (never mind that they throw off the matchy-matchy factor WRT my overall kit). If I do decide I don’t like the purple thread, I have plenty of black Sharpies that can un-purpleize it. Right now, though, I think it’s rather fun, and that I might even look into getting some kit that matches it.
It was really nice not to have to wear socks on such a sticky day (not that I always did, even with my mountain bike shoes). My feet tend to get ridiculously hot on summer rides, so I was more than willing to trade a little Roadie Cred for sockless, air-cooled footwear.
Some people might think it’s a little Fredly, but since those people will be the people I’m dropping on the climbs because their feet have overheated and they just can’t handle it, I’m not too worried! IMO, Fredly kit and equipment is simply an incentive to get stronger, so you can embarrass the bejeezus out of that sub-species of Roadie that has no sense of humor when you obliterate them on the road while wearing your sandals.
I’m looking forward to seeing how these perform on the kind of gravely, stream-crossingy rides that RCCS likes to put on. In fact, I’m looking forward to a solid summer of enjoying the heck out of my new favorite footwear.
Bonus: if you install the cleats right, they don’t really touch the ground when you’re walking — so when you stop for lunch on your blistering-hot century, you won’t fall over due to slippery cleats. (You also won’t sound like you’re going to break into a tap-dance routine at any moment.)
I haven’t taken pictures of my sandals yet. I plan to later today, so once I’ve got ’em, I’ll get ’em posted up here.
Nashbar Ragster Sandals Breakdown:
- Good fit
- Easy adjustment
- Deeply-recessed cleats (ideal for touring!)
- Highly breathable (obviously)
- Some people may find the footbeds too hard (I didn’t)
- May run slightly larger than true-to-size
- No nifty tap-dance sound-effects 😉
Summary: Buy them. You won’t regret it.
PS: I paid full price for these Sandals. Nashbar doesn’t know me from Adam.