Amazing multi-purpose shoe for flats, and clipless riding!
The Good: Stiff sole, comfortable insole, sleek style, not too bulky, velcro lace strap, superior grip on and off the bike... Stealth rubber!
The Bad: The rubber that covers the cleat mounts has to be cut out, so it is not replaceable.
These shoes have a sleek style and do not look as bulky as many of the other casual styled clipless shoes. They have a leather/rubber upper that is durable and wear resistant. The insole is comfortable, and has decent arch support. I have wide feet, and while these are slightly narrower than a wide shoe they still work fine for me with no discomfort. The construction is very solid and sole is pretty stiff but still allows for a little flex in upward direction for while walking. The velcro top strap allows you to easily cinch them down with no worry of them coming loose. The stealth rubber sole is thick and tacky and grips the pins on my pedals like super glue.
Riding on flat pedals:
I bought these shoes when I was considering switching to clipless pedals and I wanted some purpose-built riding shoes over my old vans with the waffle soles. The first thing I noticed is a considerable amount of grip on the pins. wherever I put my foot on the pedal it stayed there, over all sorts of terrain, bumps, jumps, rocks, and roots. Also the stiff sole gave me a noticeable increase incontrol and power to the pedals while climbing. The middle of the platform has an inset portion where the cleats are to be mounted, but when you buy them it is covered by rubber sole that requires a sharp knife to remove. The inset portion didn't cause any issues with gripping the pedals on flats but if you do have pins near the center of your pedal body, they probably won't get any use, but, with these shoes, they won't be necessary either.
Switching to clipless:
In order to mount the cleats you have to remove a small piece of the sole that covers the mounting holes by slicing along the perimeter with a sharp blade and then peeling it off with some pliers, here is an image of the process (credit singletracks.com).
Removing the rubber panel reveals the hard plastic plate with two sets of threaded holes that is able to slide fore-aft for positioning adjustment. The cleats mount up easily and as long as you crank them down you don't have to worry about the plate moving once it is mounted, but I added a dab of loctite to the screws just-in-case. With the cleats mounted the shoes are still very easy to walk in and they don't give you the notorious roadie waddle! On hard surfaces you will hear an audible click when your toe hits the ground but the cleats on protrude slightly. I mounted the cleats in the furthest forward and inward position which place the mount right around the ball of my foot and found myself wishing they could go just a little further forward on my platform. I think I was just used to riding all the way on my toes and it didn't take long to get used to the change and I've grown to like it.
I have been using these shoes with a pair of Crankbrothers' Mallet 2 pedals and I haven't had any issues. Since it was my first time riding clipless, having the full pedal body was helpful when starting down a trail and failing to clip in quickly enough, but now it seems almost unnecessary. While the cleats inset into the sole there is no interference between the sole and the pedal body when clipping in. I was also easily able to set the clip in a position where the shoe was free from rubbing the crank arms throughout my pedal stroke. The stiff sole works wonders for increasing power transfer and I've never had to worry about losing my shoe on the upstroke thanks to the velcro top-strap.
This shoe can be pretty expensive retailing at $130 but you can find them online around $90-$110. I got lucky with my size 13 foot and found a pair on clearance at Backcountry.com for $75. Either way these shoes are top quality, very durable, and well worth the money. I am extremely pleased with these shoes for all around mountain biking use.