by Noah Sears
The Pivot is Teva's first foray into the clipless shoe world. Aimed at the piping-hot enduro and trail markets, the Pivot blends skate shoe styling with cycling shoe performance.
Teva Pivot Highlights
- Designed for trail, all-mountain and enduro use
- PedalLINK clipless outsole
- Composite midsole plate
- Spider365 Rubber sole
- Lugs at the toe and heel for off the bike traction
- Compatible with all major 2-bolt attachment systems
- Optional cleat attachment from top to protect hardware
- Hook and loop strap keeps laces out of the chain
- Sizes 3-15 US
- Black and light grey colors
- Weight: 446 grams/15.7 ounces (Size 11)
- MSRP $150.00
To be perfectly honest, I initially hated these shoes with a passion, but it all came down to how they were set up. I picked them up on the last day of Sea Otter. Anxious to try them out, I hastily set them up for ride we had planned midway through the long drive home - Thunder Mountain outside of Bryce Canyon, Southwest Utah. One unique feature of these shoes (and one Teva has promoted heavily) is the option to install the cleat bolts from the inside of the shoe. Why, you ask? Good freaking question. It's probably obvious if you've thought about that "feature" for more than a split second that it sounds difficult and precarious - it is. Installing cleats involves loosening the laces, inserting a special T-handle Torx wrench supplied with the shoes through a small slot in the tongue, and desperately trying to find the bolt head in the black abyss of the toe box. Teva says this method allows for the shoe to be clipped into the pedal while adjusting the cleat which, in theory, should make cleat positioning simpler. In reality, though, attempting to get your out-of-sight cleats perfectly aligned is about as difficult as cracking the human genome.Teva advocates cleat installation from this side protects the hardware from wear, but frankly I spent way more time fiddling with this setup than I ever spent trying to remove a worn cleat installed the traditional way. Your mileage may vary though, especially if you tend to run the same cleats for long periods of time.
My first few rides on these shoes were miserable, as the cleats constantly loosened. I floundered on the Thunder Mountain ride, more than once falling over like a joey unable to unclip from my shifty shoes. I tried several times, but could not get them tight enough using the through-the-shoe install. I eventually tried longer screws and Loctite - this somewhat remedied the situation, but still, after a few rides the cleats would move. Fed up I went back to the tried and true from-the-bottom install and, viola, my experience with these shoes began to improve immensely.
On The Trail
So how do I like them now, many months in? Honestly, they're pretty darn solid. The teething issues are gone and now they're just plain old comfortable. The heel cup is the best I've found in any MTB shoe - neutralizing any slip through the pedal stroke. I also appreciate the location of the cleat slots - it's further back than most shoes, allowing you to get off your toes and onto the ball of your foot. The lace and velcro strap closure system is easy and secure, and the laces don't stick to the velcro - pure magic. Teva has really nailed the balance of efficiency and walkability with the Pivot, they are as comfy as skate shoes but stiff and supportive enough for thirty-plus mile journeys. As much as I like the idea of a buckle closure, you really can't beat the way a laced shoe fits and conforms to different foot shapes. The strap does a great job of containing the laces, though if you get a little overzealous on tightness you'll sacrifice comfort.
Another thing I've greatly come to appreciate is the weight. My size 11 Pivots tip the scales more than 300 grams lighter than my previous shoes, the Five Ten Minnaars. 300 grams is a lot of weight - that's like running an air shock vs. a coil… on my feet.
Long Term Durability
Surprisingly, these lightweight kicks are also proving to be more durable than the boat-anchor Minnaars. Upon close inspection, not a single thread is unthreading, nor any part of the sole ungluing - totally unfazed despite heavy use over a four month period.
Things That Could Be Improved
Aside from the initial setup pains, the only significant gripes I have with the Pivot have to do with the cleat interface. The recessed portion of the sole where the cleat resides is metal, just like the cleats you'll mount to it. I've found that metal to metal contact to get creaky - especially in dusty conditions. My solution to this was a thin plastic washer under the cleat, but unfortunately raising the cleat sacrificed a little contact between the sole and pedal. Also, I haven't quite nailed down whether it's the shape of the sole at the interface, the sticky rubber, or perhaps the flex in the construction of the uppers, but I have had some issues disengaging from my pedals. I've adopted a more exaggerated exit strategy which seems to have solved it, but I've been going through cleats at a faster than normal pace which I suspect might be a consequence of this. I've used the Pivot exclusively with the original Crank Brothers Mallet and new Mallet DH Race pedals, so the problem could be mitigated by a less aggressive pedal. But, I suspect most riders keen on this shoe will use it with trail or DH pedals, so it is worth mentioning.
What's The Bottom Line?
All in all, for Teva's first clipless model, the Pivots are a well executed product. Trail riders looking for something more casual and walkable than an XC model and much lighter and better breathing than a skate or downhill style shoe should check them out. Even with its quirks, the Pivot is the best shoe I've tried in the segment - I'd be inclined to pick up another set in white if Labor day weren't just around the corner.
For more details abut the Pivot shoes, visit www.teva.com.
About The Reviewer
Noah Sears eats, sleeps, and breathes mountain biking. During the decade he has been in the bike industry, he has managed a well-known destination bike shop, written for several publications, been a sponsored rider and product tester for various manufacturers, and is currently leading the marketing and product development efforts at Mountain Racing Products. A Colorado native and now Fruita local, there is no shortage of idyllic singletrack right out his back door. He has been racing downhill and super-D events since 2006, but thinks he has found his calling with enduro. His hammer and plow style of riding puts the hurt on his equipment - and his body. The amount he has spent to fix broken bones and replace broken parts over the years likely exceeds the GDP of a small country. He's all but sworn off 26-inch wheeled bikes, preferring to ride wagon wheels or at least 'tweeners. He also freaking loves Strava.