Review of the Chrome Kursk Pro 2.0 and Storm Kursk Sneakers

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By Vince Hempsall

My Grandfather said there are two things in life you spend good money on – a bed and a pair of shoes, because if you’re not on your feet, you’re lying down. Of course, I highly doubt my grandfather would ever be caught rocking a pair of Kursk sneakers because a) he doesn’t bike and b) he ain’t a cool urbanite. But if he did bike, instead of race cars, and was a cool urbanite instead of a cool rural-ite, then no doubt he would slap on a pair of Kursks and shred pavement.

Chrome Industries has been based in San Francisco for the past 17 years and the company’s carved out a niche market catering to a hip urban audience – one that includes people who log as much time on their bikes as they do drinking lattés. Unlike many flash-in-the-pan hipster trends, though, Chrome produces some great quality gear from bags to clothing to footwear. (The company manufactures no less than 34 styles of shoes.) For this review, we look at two different styles of Kursks: the Kursk Pro 2.0, a robust SPD-compatible biking shoe and the more casual Storm Kursk Sneaker.

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Features of the Kursk Pro 2.0

  • Durable rubber heel cup

  • Compatibility with most clipless pedal systems

  • Dual density FlexPlate™ Technology

  • 100% Vulcanized construction

  • Contoured impact-resistant PU footbed

  • Skid resistant contact rubber outsole

  • Abrasion-resistant 1,000 Denier CORDURA® Brand fabric upper

Features of the Storm Kursk Sneaker

  • Low profile design to better fit into a toe cage

  • Durable rubber heel cup with reflective safety hit

  • Lace garage so laces don’t get caught in your chainring

  • Steel aglets to keep laces from fraying

  • 100% vulcanized construction

  • Contoured impact-resistant PU footbed

  • Reinforced nylon/glass fiber shank to support the midsole

  • Skid resistant contact rubber on the sole

  • CHROME STORM™ waterproof breathable membrane

  • Durable 1,000 denier CORDURA® Brand fabric upper with back-padding

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Verdict

When I first saw Chrome’s Kursk Pro 2.0 and Storm Kursk sneakers, I thought they looked like hot dog buns: long, tubular and not a lot of shape. But when I tried them on I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they were. Before I continue, I should tell you a bit about my feet because everyone is different and what fits me may not be ideal for you. I’m a size 9 but my left foot is about a 1/4-inch larger than my right. I don’t suffer from pronation, supination or Morton’s Toe, and my arch is normal. I do have a relatively thin heel but I require a large toe box (the width from the outside of my large toe to the outside of the knuckle on my small toe is 4.25 inches. With that said, the toe boxes on both the Kursk Pro 2.0 and the Storm Kursk sneakers fit perfectly but the heel cups were a tiny bit too large for me. I really had to cinch down the laces in order to avoid heel lift on both pairs.

As expected, the Storm Kursks were comfortable to walk around in but what I wasn’t expecting was how comfortable it was to walk in the Pro 2.0s. The latter pair has a full-length plate in the sole that gives it a lot of stiffness so you can transfer more energy to your pedal thrust, but there’s just enough flex in the heel and toe that you don’t feel like the Tin Man strutting around town. As with all SPD-compatible shoes, it’s a simple matter of unscrewing the plate located under the ball of your foot and inserting an SPD-style clip. (Note: these shoes do not accept SL or Standard Look clips, which are really just worn by roadies who rarely get off their bikes to walk and live normal lives.) As for the Storm Kursks, the company’s literature states that the low-profile toe design allows them to fit easily into the toe cages on your pedals but I’ll have to take their word for it as I haven’t had toe cages on my bike since 1989.

Other nice touches include: the “lace garages,” which are basically elastics affixed to the tongues that hold the loose ends of your laces so they don’t get caught up in your bike’s drivetrain; and the aglets or holes where your laces go are made out of steel so they’re not going to break. One of the downsides of the Kursk Pro 2.0 is they also have 3 steel-rimmed holes on the instep portion of the shoe which are presumably there for ventilation but they also allow water to get in.

Which brings me to performance and aesthetics. In the case of the Storm Kursks, not only do they look stylish but they’re also waterproof and breathable. Chrome has incorporated a fully  taped waterproof membrane into the shoe and wrapped it all in Cordura uppers. Combine that with a heavy rubber toe cap and a 2.5cm deep sole and you have one seriously bombproof shoe. I wish the same could be said for the Kursk Pro 2.0. It too has Cordura uppers, heavy-duty toe caps and deep rubber soles, but as mentioned above, the ventilation holes in the instep allow moisture to get in. I would like to see the Pros incorporate the Storm technology making them waterproof and bombproof. Saying that, these are definitely the most stylish SPD-compatible shoes I’ve ever owned. Normally my bike shoes are either massive and ugly (for mountain biking) or minimalistic and ugly (for commuting.) The Kursk Pro 2.0s are the first pair of biking shoes I’ve ever owned that I would proudly wear into my local coffee shop to swill lattés.

Rating of the Kursk Pro 2.0 – 7/10

  • Innovation     1/2
  • Function       1/2
  • Aesthetics    2/2
  • Features      1/2
  • Quality / Price  2/2

Rating of the Storm Kursk Sneaker – 8/10

  • Innovation     1/2
  • Function       2/2
  • Aesthetics    2/2
  • Features      1/2
  • Quality / Price  1/2

Pros

The full plate under the Kursk Pro 2.0’s sole offers excellent stiffness so you can transfer more energy to your pedal thrust. Yet it has flex in the heel and toe so you can walk around town relatively comfortably. Also, both the Kursk Pro and Storm Kursk are burly yet they look good – not an easy accomplishment.

Cons 

At first I thought the shoes looked like black and grey hotdogs but with time, and a bit of wear, their aesthetics grew on me. Both have relatively wide cut, though, so if you have narrow feet that’s something to be aware of. Also, I would like to see the Pro 2.0 incorporate the Storm technology making them waterproof.

Kursk Pro 2.0 Specs

  • Price: US$95

  • Weight: 2.4lbs

  • Men’s sizing: US 4.5-12

  • Women’s sizing: US 5.5-11

Storm Kursk Sneaker Specs

  • Price: US$105

  • Weight: 2 lbs

  • Men’s sizing: US 4.5-12

  • Women’s sizing: US 5.5-11

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