SixSixOne MTB Shoes: Old vs New
You only have three contacts points with your bike - your hands, your butt and your feet. Let's face it, your feet are the most important. They carry most of your weight, maintain your balance and provide propulsion. Your feet can rescue you when facing an imminent crash. What you put on your feet is crucial. The right shoes can quite literally save your life.
I ride and race on a small budget (Even with sponsors) so I use platform pedals. To get the most out of my flats I wear shoes appropriate to the task. Enter the SixSixOne Filter. The Filter is a skate style flat bottom shoe that has a hidden opening on the sole should you want to use it as clipless. The reason I love this shoe is that it is a tank. It can handle a serious beating. When my old ones finally showed their years, I ordered a brand new pair.
For the sake of disclosure I am a SixSixOne sponsored athlete. However, they did not ask me to write this article. In fact, the reason I wanted to be associated with this company was because I am so happy with the quality of their products. That includes their shoes.
Before we dive into the pretty new pair, let's talk about the old ones. When I started mountain biking I didn't have any shoes. I rode MTB and later BMX in my beloved hiking boots (You can read that story here). They were a little big and could get in the way but I simply couldn't afford anything else. One day I was searching through Craigslist when I found a pair of SixSixOne flat soled shoes. The guy was selling them for $12. in part because he had really small feet. Luckily they fit me.
These 661 shoes were perfect for platform pedals. They stuck to the pins and never slid off. They were also tough, protecting my feet in crashes and during bad weather. They held true for three years and through some brutal conditions: mud, rain, gravel, grass. Even now they are still usable despite smelling pretty bad. I did things with these shoes that you should never do. They have been in the washing machine and dryer half a dozen times. They skidded on the BMX track, sloshed through creeks, scratched by thorns and were buried in deep sand. The color faded and the sole slowly wore away but otherwise they were bulletproof.
Time for an unpopular rant. I'm one of those stubborn riders who never bought into clipless cheating. I believe it to be the product of group think and hyped marketing with inconclusive proof that it improves your riding. I don't buy the theory that being attached to the bike suddenly makes you a more efficient or more effective cyclist. Recent tests have brought the supposedly huge difference between power and pedal strokes into question. Most people use them as a bike hack, a way to skip past learning valuable riding skills.
Despite being expensive they are also dangerous. There is plenty of proof that when clipped in you can suffer terribly in an accident. There are countless examples of people falling over in traffic, tipping off the edge of a cliff or going OTB with the bike dangling from their feet. I have seen career ending crashes with my own eyes that would have been far less damaging if the person wasn't attached to the bike.
Is the entire professional peloton wrong? No, they are professionals, the rest of us are not. Amateurs buy into many of these products for the sake of emulating the pros. The awkward truth is that the professionals can do many things that we will never be able to do on a bike. Just deal with it. Anyway, this conversation has been going on for a while and it will continue for a long time to come or until someone invents a better product. These are my opinions and not those of SixSixOne.
The differences between the old and new shoes are few and far between. If it ain't broke don't fix it. SixSixOne designed a brilliant product. It does what it is supposed to, so why change it? The fit is basically the same. The tread pattern is the same. The fold over velcro lace protector is roughly the same. The sole is very stiff, maybe too stiff for some riders but I think that is the key to their longevity. They do flex over time becoming better with age and usage. They are a little lighter and a little taller. I had to adjust my seat height because of the extra quarter inch of rubber under my feet. The fit is snug even though I ordered a larger size than previously.
More than anything they are way better looking. No one ever noticed or asked about my old pair but on the first ride with these new ones, people commented that they are sharp and stylish.
As for their durability, only time will tell. Thus far I have taken them on half a dozen rides. The only telling moment so far was during a dirt time trial in the rain where my feet got very wet. The next day I blasted the shoes with a hose and left them out in the sun to dry. In a few hours they were good as new. I will update this article with future adventures to tell you how they perform.
To get your own pair of 661 Filter shoes visit their website:
If you enjoyed this article be sure to check out my book Twisted Trails