Sunday, January 30, 2011

Review: Chrome Kursk vs. Keen Coronado Cruiser

Back in December, I was one of the lucky winners of Chrome's Wishlist contest. The drill was to register on their website, fill a wishlist of $500 worth of product, and wait to win. Well, I WON!!!! I'll be posting reviews of the goodies I selected, starting today with the Kursk Shoe ($70). Since I have been using a pair of Keen Coronado Cruisers ($80) for a few months already, I thought a head-to-head comparison would be interesting.


In principle, these shoes are very similar. They both claim to be a great street cycling shoe, with plenty style and comfort for every day use. I developed a couple qualms with the Keen shoe's performance, and was pleasantly surprised with how the Kursk addressed those issues.

Issue #1: Toe cages. I use toe cages and the Keen toebox is VERY tall as well as wide, effectively pushing my foot back on the pedal. The Kursk is explicitly designed to fit in a toe cage, and it does so very well. It does a better job of flipping my pedal over as well. As a result, my foot is more secure on the pedal, which is especially important in the slippery snow and ice. Kursk 1 - Coronado 0.

The Shoes side-by-side.
Issue #2: Durability. Although the Keens are durable, the shoe upper never felt very sturdy. Keen calls it's upper "canvas." See closeup below.

Keen's canvas weave.
 When I got the Kursk, I was pleasantly surprised to see a much tighter weave, 1,000 denier Cordura in fact. Not only is it Cordura, but it's padded on the backside with just enough love. This shoe feels sturdy and super durable. My foot feels secure and comfortable. Kursk 2 - Coronado 0.

1000 denier Cordura

Issue #3: Fit. Full disclosure. I own about 10 pairs of Keens due to their superior fit. I love all of them, as do my feet. The Kursk is a little narrower, and does pinch my foot a little, but is still quite nice. Close call here, but I'll give a point to the Coronado. Kursk 2 - Coronado 1

The toebox is lovely on the Coronado.
 Issue #4: Pedal Grip. Although this Coronado model was designed specifically for pedaling, I didn't like how it felt on my pedals. I would get hotspots, and the sole stiffness is less than I expected from their description. The black patch over the ball of the foot is a softer rubber with more grip, which does work well. However, the Kursk is designed with multiple layers in the sole system, which totally eliminated my hotspots. As mentioned earlier, I can flip my toe-caged pedal over much better with the Kursk. The sole is noticeably stiffer as well. Kursk 3 - Coronado 1.

Sole comparison

 As far as functionality issues, that about sums up the main differences. The Kursk features impressive details which add up to a superior shoe. The tongue has a lace garage, keeping your laces away from pedaling motion mishaps. The heel, as seen below, has a reflective stripe, the laces have metal aglets (shoelace tips), and the tongue is padded.

Heel reflector

Padded tongue
In summary, either shoe does a great job as advertised. However, for $70 vs. $80, the Kursk is a hands-down better shoe when comparing functionality. The Kursk shoe is going to last longer than my Coronado, and it will perform better and be more comfortable. I hate to see Keen lose a battle, but my closet is still full of them. 

Thank you Chrome for this contest! You have a customer for life! 


  1. THis is a really interesting comparison since Chrome is owned by Keen...

  2. Indeed. Perhaps they plan to share product design and functionality at some point. I don't see much evidence of pooled resources.