Different colours in different light conditions is just one of the highlights of the ‘Kazze’ road cycling shoe by Supacaz.
– Click the link below to watch the unboxing on RIDE Media’s YouTube channel. –
The catalyst for a new pair of shoes was the frequency of getting wet while riding. No, it hasn’t been rain that’s having an impact, rather it’s sweat – lots of it! I’ve been riding on the indoor trainer (Tacx Neo 2) for over three months now, a legacy of the latest Sydney lockdown. My rides these days usually tip over an hour and I know, from considerable experience (ie. many inside rides) that sweat begins to trickle down the back of my leg and into my socks around the 55 minute mark.
For me, the worst part of the inside ride is the wetness – the puddles on the mat below the trainer is one thing, but the soaked socks after an hour is what cracks me. But I keep on pedalling and, I confess, I can feel the gains after almost every ride. (Note: I’m not ‘training’, I’m just riding… to maintain my sanity during the lockdown, but I am getting fit.)
My Bontrager XXX shoes that have been my go-to for road rides since 2017 have been brilliant… but they get sodden with sweat almost every day. If I take the inner soles out after a ride and bake them in the sun on the window sill, they are usually good to go again the next day. If it’s a little overcast, however, then there’s often a lingering damp in the upper of the shoe.
I can cope with riding in wet shoes – although it’s not exactly ‘lovely’, is it? – but having to put wet shoes on dry feet/socks is rank. It feels like surrender before you’ve even begun a ride.
Anyway, it was time for a new pair of shoes and that’s why it came time to peruse my options. What stood out – actually, what was screaming at me from the Pushys.com.au shoe selection page – was the Kazze by Supacaz (below).
The Kazze with the ‘Oil Slick Reflective’ finish (featured) is eye-catching to say the least, even just in photographs. Put them on your feet and they are transfixing: at times they’re a rather dull purple (below), or even grey… but when the sunlight (or even fluorescent lighting) strikes at the right angle, they glow!
Subdued purple turns to bright blue, or flashes of green even. It’s actually hard to determine exactly what colour they are as they keep on changing; from one angle to the next, or one flash of light or another…
Experiments on the home trainer (which you can see in the video, above) show the Kazze shoes in an array of colours even during one rotation of the pedals. They are pretty and captivating… but they are not cheap. Currently priced at AUD$499, they are in stock (ie. you can actually buy them – in most sizes – if you want… and this is something of an anomaly for cycling products in 2021). And you can select in half-size increments.
The finish of the uppers has a satin feel to it and, on the heel, there is a textured, ridged design reminiscent of the Union Jack design. They look and feel cool, and that’s the initial impression, right out of the box.
Black Supacaz inner-soles come with the shoe (but no cleats, the yellow Shimano ones you see in the images are mine), and there’s a slight supporting rise for the arch of the foot but I immediately swapped this out for my tried-and-trusted Bontrager yellow option.
Fastening is via BOA’s brilliant system which allows micro adjustments, to tighten or loosen the laces. For fitting and removal, pull the BOA dial out and the ‘clutch’ is released allowing the laces to extend as far as you like with ease. You know the drill, right? It’s great.
At this price, you expect a quality finish and carbon-fibre soles, and that’s exactly what you get. There is some ventilation in the uppers as well as the sole (apparently made from 3k carbon) and this helps keep your feet cool but it’s not exactly a water drainage design. So yes, they do still get wet… but the uppers dry a lot faster than my Bontrager shoes, so they need less time in the sun and are still good to go day-after-day.
The half-size option has served me well. With the Bontrager, I ride size 44; with Supacaz, I’ve gone for 43.5. With a left foot that’s ±8mm longer than my right foot, the ideal scenario would be a 44 for my left and a 43.5 for my right… but the large box section (slightly higher, and certainly with a more robust, solid feel than the Bontrager shoe) suits my rather large toes well and there’s even a bit of wiggle room… but it took a little while to adjust to the slightly smaller shoe size.
As I’m (currently) only riding on the indoor trainer, there’s plenty of opportunity to fine-tune the cleat position and I’ve used this time in lockdown to do some experiments with a range of measurements (inc. saddle height and angle, as well as cleat position, etc) and now I’ve found my sweet spot with the cleat.
There’s a minor adjustment applied to account for the slight difference in the size of my feet and I’ve even shunted the cleat a little further back than I have had it for years. The result is what feels like a more efficient upstroke, one that activates the muscles in the rear of my legs a little more and – for me at least – it seems to provide a stronger pedalling action. Exactly how this will translate to when I’m riding outside again remains to be seen. For now, while I’m only riding while seated (I don’t stand on the bike with the home trainer), it’s most suitable.
The markings on the sole of the Kazze are useful when making minor changes to cleat position and the lines provide a fairly logical early fitting guideline. Even my initial fastening of the cleat came within a micro-millimetre of what I’ve found to be my ideal position. So, I suggest you use the Supacaz cleat markings as a guideline and then tweak the angles/position to suit you perfectly.
Usually, I give myself a fairly considerable bit of room between foot and crank arm – ie. I shift the cleat to the inside of the sole so that there’s more clearance for my ankle as I’ve got a pronounced navicular bone. There have been times when this brushes against crank when pedalling (after a rushed cleat fitting) and it’s not fun… actually, it’s bloody painful. Still, with these shoes – and with the time to experiment – I have pulled the shoe in closer to the crank arm; it’s only a matter of a 1mm, maybe 1.5mm, but it feels much more natural and efficient when pedalling.
What’s the buzzword for that adjustment? Q-factor? Something like that. (Mike Kluge, the founder of Focus bikes, once told me a long story about the gains he made during his racing days because of minor alterations to things like Q-factor. It was an interesting yarn, but I forget the conclusion he came to… still, if you’d like to watch an interview with him, click here. He’s a funny, interesting industry guy.)
Over the last 30 years I’ve lost count of the number of cycling shoes I’ve used and it’s difficult to even remember all the brands that have been on my feet.
I do know that, when I first started riding seriously, all I wanted was a pair of Sidi shoes – they looked so cool in the 1980s and 1990s. Maybe they still do, to some… but I’ve moved on from that brand after having ridden some Sidi shoes many moons ago, realising that they tended to go soft after only a few months. That was, of course, with the old-school plastic soles. I’m guessing that Sidi shoes are now much better, as most cycling products are in 2021. But it’s a weird brand that’s not exactly well represented in Australia… so, for me, the search continues for the shoe that suits me the most.
I’m no Cinderella. Far from petite feet is only part of the story – and I’m not interested in a Prince Charming – but finding the right shoe for the task is an interesting concept. The wetness that prompted this product review won’t dry up; I’ll keep sweating – probably even more now that summer is approaching fast – but ideally I’ll be riding outside again soon, where and how I want. When that happens, the glow of the ‘Oil Slick Reflective’ is bound to catch some attention. And, if you ask, I’ll happily report that the Kazze by Supacaz are indeed a fine pair of cycling shoes.
Did you notice that? I’ve done a long review of Supacaz and haven’t even mentioned the Specialized connection… until now. Yeah, the company is owned by Mike Sinyard’s son, Anthony. So, we could assume, the many gains of having family in the game is going to serve this relatively young company well. It doesn’t seem to have resulted in a cheaper shoe; beyond the price, however, is a fine product that I’d recommend after around a 1,000km of pedalling nowhere in the sweaty, wet surrounds of an indoor riding environment.
– By Rob Arnold
Highlights & particulars: Supacaz ‘Kazze’ shoes
- AUD$499 (price in Australian dollars, correct as of October 2021)
- 586g (for the pair, 284g per shoe)
- Size options: 37 to 46.5 (European)
- Available at Pushys.com.au – direct link here
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Suggested viewing on RIDE Media’s YouTube channel (click the links below).
*Note: RIDE Media will be collaborating with Pushys.com.au on some product reviews in the coming months.