FLR REXSTON TOURING/TRAIL SHOE
Black 918g 44 as tested £69.99
The FLR Rexston Active Touring/Trail Shoe are designed in Italy and like a great many these days, made in the Far East. However, while their soles can’t match the efficiency of stiffer soled MTB, or traditional touring models, they’re rugged and refreshingly competent on and off road.
Pros: Rugged, perform equally well on and off road, classy, subtle styling, easy to care for.
Cons: Suit narrower feet.
The Rexston are what you’d get if a pedigree cross country mountain bike shoe and trainer type commuter design had a passionate tryst. Synthetic leatherette uppers feature re-enforced toe boxes and subtle mesh windows and perforated panels to encourage wicking and cooling air for a temperate climate, without taking in water like a sieve in showery rain.
Laces are less convenient than Velcro but mean they look less technical, sans bike, or when commuting-which they are also very good at. The Velcro garage is designed to keep them tidy and out of the drivetrain. Subtle retro reflective logos and detailing feature here, the heel and sides for some additional presence on dark rides but, again, subtle enough not to stand out like a sore thumb when away from the bike.
Inside, we have a “breathable” mesh tongue, a moulded breathable and removable footbed (insole). Now, the AT200 outsole is apparently specific to the Rexston and supposedly blends power transfer with walking compliance.
There’s nothing particularly exotic here but it’s very solid and in keeping with the price point. Reinforced nylon does the power transfer and EVA foam the compliance. The external STK grip rubberised tread is designed to offer excellent grip in all conditions, the twin bolt cleat drillings will accommodate SPD and Time ATAC. The soles feature a circular guard, which theoretically reduces cleat contact with the ground and extends cleat life. The sole is less aggressive than a cross country mountain bike pattern but gravel and touring don’t require this and, detailing such as spikes.
Standards of construction seem uniformly good throughout- no frayed stitching, or dodgy bonding to be found anywhere, which is pleasing.
These are a longer and slightly narrower profile than photos might suggest and came as a pleasant surprise. Sizing is bang on-44 equates to 43 in street shoes, so the “lazy” one size up rule didn’t present any surprises. I found the toe-box sufficiently roomy and the heel cup suitably supportive.
However, unlike a natural upper, there’s no give over time, so worth trying for size, especially if you are going for thicker, season specific socks-whether these be Merino, or waterproof. About fit. The cleat guard will require cleats are moved a millimetre or so back or packed out with washers (thus defeating the guard’s purpose). I chose the former. More about that shortly.
Power Transfer/Sole 3.5/5
Coming from my Quoc Pham Tourer, there was more discernable flex, which wasn’t a complete surprise, nor a deal breaker, for the most part. I could cruise along at 80 odd rpm and a steady 18-20mph on my tubby tourer for hours at a time. No issues with hot spots, or similar discomfort.
Things were more obvious on my fixed, given the need for out-of-the-saddle efforts-climbing and accelerating. Not enough to irk me on a short commute (5/6miles or so) but I was very pleased to switch back to the Quoc Pham for more general, faster-paced riding and training. No great surprise there and fair enough, given the design brief. The blocky tread is more compact than the Quoc Pham, which meant I was less prone to picking up pea gravel and larger stones.
Predictably, they will collect moderate amounts of mud, but I haven’t clogged ours, just yet. Away from the bike the compound has offered a decent amount of grip too, which isn’t always the case (I’ve found Vibram soles phenomenally tough but slightly slippery). Walking around for extended periods, there’s plenty of support to the metatarsal and arch area. Sufficient compliance too, so fatigue shouldn’t be a problem, if you like to potter around, or haven’t brought a change of shoes to work.
Breathability/Water Resistance 3/5
I weas a little sceptical as to how well they’d breathe, being synthetic. However, worn with high quality synthetic and merino blends things have remained temperate, whiff free and largely dry, even when the mercury’s been 25-26degrees C (and I’m blessed with sweaty feet).
The mesh windows have also kept showery-moderate rain at bay for 30-40miutes and the odd dab down into a puddle hasn’t presented any problems. More torrential stuff resulted in soggy feet, given 20 minutes, so I’d go with waterproof socks, if rain’s forecast and you’re planning a bit of gravel, or weekend touring.
I’m pleased to report the Rexston are just roomy enough to entertain relatively thick models, including the Oxford Oxsocks If you do get a soaking, it’s a question of packing the Rexston with newspaper and popping in a naturally warm corner of the house.
The synthetic uppers are low maintenance-a wipe down with a damp cloth should be enough for road biased riding. However, more traditional wax type chain lubes can melt, transferring to the uppers and attracting other grime. A periodic helping of Crankalicious Epic Hide Leather & Vinyl cleanser, followed with their Leather Lacquer, helps repel wet stuff.
Should things turn funky, insoles seem to cope with 30degree machine washes (although gel type cleaners also tend to work quite well, when worked into the insole with a medium stiff brush). Seven weeks and 1500 miles in, there’s little sign of sullying, let alone more serious wear. 900 odd grams is heavier than racier (and pricier) models but as I say, they feel reassuringly solid and comparable with trainer types of similar size.
A penny shy of £70 is still budget territory. Some dead-ringer store brands weigh in with an almost identical specification (slightly different detailing) and price tag. Triban RC520 SPD Road Cycling Shoes feature full leather uppers but are more biased towards tarmac, whereas the FLR Rexston will manage road and rougher stuff, comfortably. Shimano MT301 are more of a trail cum trainer commuter shoe and a penny shy of £80.
Overall, the FLR Rexston are an excellent option for those looking to mix touring with some light trail and bikepacking duties. Serious gravel riders will want to spend a bit more. Those looking towards touring, commuting but wanting to indulge in gravel shenanigans now and then, have most to gain. There are several brands offering road and commuter models that can rival them on price but not their versatility.