At times, cycling in the UK feels like one continuous battle with the elements. Although we rarely suffer from extremes in temperature, it’s the sheer unpredictability of our weather that causes cyclists anxiety regarding what to wear, carry or risk leaving at home.
I’m sure we’ve all been there, setting out for a ride under a cloudless sky only to return in a sodden, bedraggled state with a cyclist’s ‘tan’ of wet grit. And if there’s one aspect of cycle-specific clothing that faces the greatest challenge, it’s how to keep your feet dry.
Commuting throughout winter, I wear neoprene overshoes. They keep my feet warm, protect my shoes from road spray and are relatively user friendly. The problem I have, however, is where they fit around my ankles. On the lighter side of light-weight, I lack muscled calves of sufficient circumference to avoid the overshoes gaping and thus providing a rather inconvenient entry point for the rain as it runs down my legs.
On my short 10 mile commute, unless the rain is truly biblical there’s generally enough protection so that I arrive at work without needing to appropriate a radiator for the purpose of drying out my shoes ready for the homeward leg (my colleagues love it when I dry cycling gear in the office). On a longer club ride, however, my shoe and overshoe combination gradually gains weight as they become increasingly saturated.
Researching the other options currently available after an April of torrential downpours, it appears that Velotoze have apparently solved the problem of a snug fit and water ingress. Relatively cheap at £15 and compact enough to carry for when (not if) you’re caught in a shower, I made my purchase before waiting for the next wet ride.
This being England, May was delightful. To such an extent that I stopped carrying wet weather gear altogether; replacing it with tailored shorts that caused rather a ‘stir’ in the office. But the rain typically returned in June as we entered meteorological summer and my road test could begin.
Initially feeling rather insubstantial, after a number of trial runs fitting them over my shoes they’ve yet to tear or show any signs of wear. Available in a range of colours, I chose a conservative black as I already suffer verbal abuse riding through a certain part of the city centre when wearing my bright pink Rapha gilet. Adding matching ‘booties’ might push these casual observers to actual physical attack.
You start with your shoes off, slipping the covers onto your foot and then above the ankle. After fastening your shoes you pull, first the heel, and then the toe over the front of your foot where they fit snugly around the cleat. And ‘snugly’ is an apt description. The process doesn’t take too long but is a little more fiddly than fitting a traditional neoprene overshoe. Especially if, as with my shoes, they have protruding ratchets.
When in place, tightly encircling your ankles, the Velotoze look sleek and aerodynamic. Did they keep my feet dry? Well, yes and no. I wore them on a number of occasions in variable conditions ranging from wet roads to full-on downpours. At all times my feet ‘felt’ dry, comfortable and not, as I suspected might happen, too hot or clammy.
When removing the covers (not, it must be admitted, an easy process) my feet were largely dry with just my ankles and the heel areas of the shoe feeling damp. It appears that even though the Velotoze fit tightly around your ankle, water is still able to enter through this join.
Would I recommend their use? For a short commute, probably not. They take too long to position correctly and you need to be careful if removing the covers when wet that you dry the insides before, if possible, adding a dusting of talcum powder. I found that running my covered feet under the shower / hose-pipe and then patting them dry before removing the covers was the best technique.
Would I wear them on a long ride? Absolutely. The close-fitting nature of the covers with no flapping or gaps round the ankle certainly looks the part and my feet always felt dry and comfortable. Add in the affordability, low weight and packable size, and Velotoze are definitely worth a try.