Afton Shoes is one of the youngest and most progressive riding footwear brands in the mountain bike scene. You willl see top level riders like previous Crankworx King Adrien Loron and World Cup rippers Neko Mulally and Reece Wilson riding in Afton shoes. Afton is known for their modern urban styling mixed with technical features that combined are aimed to change the landscape of cycling footwear. Our guy Max Morgan has been riding in both the Afton Vectal clipless shoes and the Afton Keegan flat pedal shoes all year and so we thought it was a no brainer to get his thoughts on how the Vectals performed out on the race circuit.
The first pair of Afton shoes were released in the Fall of 2017. The shoes have been tweaked and improved at each release of new colorways in the Spring of 2018 and the Fall of 2018. The latest release of Afton shoes uses their second generation Intact Rubber compound and features a more accurate sizing fit.
Anti-microbial molded foam insole to control odor and for proper heel and arch support does not break down use after use.
I've only ever ridden the the Vectal shoes with Crankbrothers Mallet DH pedals. The pins on the Crank Brothers pedals are adjustable, that way you can adjust how much they dig in to the sole of the shoe. I tend to run the height of the pins close to where they come out of the box, 2-3mm up from the body of the pedals. The Vectals were tested with all sorts of pedals, but seem to excel when paired with the Crank Brothers design.
I've been grabbing the Vectal shoes for each and every bike in the garage. No matter if it's an all day trail ride, chairlift runs at the bike park, or a hiking mission for your favorite secret trails, the Vectal shoes seem to be well versed to handle it all.
The cleat bed on the Vectals seems to be strong and solid. I've seen with other mountain bike shoes that over time the hard plastic material in the cleat box wears and can even break. I don't see that happening with Afton shoes. One of the toughest aspects of installing cleats can be matching the cleat position from one shoe to another. Afton gives you small tick marks on the clip box that allow you to get the cleat positions identical to one another. This is similar to what you will see on some FiveTen shoes.
When you get the Afton shoes in your hands, they have a nice feel to them. The construction in the toe box is sturdy and the taping around the toe gives the shoe a nice finish. The laces are waxed and also a bit wide keeping them locked in to place even when they aren't tightened down all the way.
I am wearing a US size 9.5 Afton and for comparison, I also wear a US size 9.5 Vans shoe. When I first slid the shoes on, my first impression on the fit was good. There weren't any uncomfortable pinch points anywhere on my foot. When snugged up, the Vectals don't feel like a clunky shoe, and the laces strap keeps everything tidy.
With clippless shoes, one of the most important performance aspects of the shoe is how the sole of the shoe comes in contact with the pedal. The depth of the clip box dictates how much of the pedal is making contact with the sole. Now that can be adjusted using shims underneath the cleats and also with the height of the pins on the pedals. I ended up settling on running one of the plastic shims provided by Crank Brothers underneath each cleat and the pins just a touch longer than the stock height. With the Vectals paired up against Crank Brothers Mallet DH pedals, they felt right at home.
The shank in the sole of the shoe gives this shoe its personality. The shank is tapered from 4mm to 12mm and truly gives you the best of both worlds; pedaling performance and comfort. The tapered design allows the shank to flex in one direction but not in the other. When walking, the shoe is comfortable because the shank is able to flex. When you are really trying to put the power down and turn over the cranks, the shoe is stiff.
Even though the shoe is low profile, the toe box and sole makes the Vectal feel protective. If you have to put a foot down, the Vectal gives you that piece of mind protecting the front and bottom of your foot. That combined with the styling of this shoe is pretty sweet!
If you are looking for a mountain bike shoe that looks great without giving up any performance features, the Afton Vectal shoes need to be on your radar. The low profile aesthetic is paired with a protective toe box and strong sole. The tapered shank design gives you the best of both worlds; pedaling performance with power transfer and comfortability when walking. Getting the cleats on each shoe adjusted just right was a piece of cake thanks to the tick marks inside the clip box. The materials used throughout the shoe are anti-microbial but do hold moisture so they don't dry out as quick as some other shoes on the market.
Max Morgan is 26 years old, and lives in Brevard, North Carolina. Max grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and started racing downhill at the age of 15. He has now been racing professionally for the last 8 years, competing in the UCI World Cup series and U.S. Pro GRT series. To learn more about Max, check out Max's rider spotlight here!