by Kurt Buczkowski
Tempe (AZ) Police Department
When I read that IPMBA had finally recognized the flat pedal as a viable option for training and operations, I was excited to help answer the next natural question: “What shoes do I wear now?” The Tempe Police Bike Squad has always used a flat “BMX” style pedal. Our patrol style is “go- go-go”. We are constantly on and off the bike, mostly in an urban setting, but we occasionally hit the nearby trails for calls for service and weekly training rides. Most of our bikes are outfitted with Redline Low-Pro Aluminum pedals with varying tooth heights for grip, depending on the rider’s preference. On the topic of good flat pedal shoe I would say about 90% of our squad wears Salomon XA Pro 3D trail type running shoes.
We prefer Salomon first and foremost because they provide an awesome grip because the shoe tread is designed for trail/off-road running. The Salomons do not have traditional laces; rather, they have a cinch-style design which tucks into the tongue so you can avoid the annoying feeling of your shoelaces getting snagged in the pedal. The toe is made of thick rubber and protects the front of the foot from impact. Another great selling point is the extreme durability of the shoe’s arch; it has an extremely hard plastic shell and is not subject to the excessive wear that you get with foam-or rubber-bottomed shoes.
Salomon and the Uniform
The Salomon XA Pro 3D is available in a wide range of primary and accent colors. Our squad uses the Black/Black/Dark Cloud color scheme. Although mostly black, the “dark cloud grey” accents actually provide a small amount of reflectivity, which is useful for night riding. Salomon offers two types of the XA Pro 3D and the XA Pro 3D GTX (both low cut) models, which look the same but offer different types of protection. The Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX design is waterproof with Gore-Tex lining and a little more insulated for our brutal Arizona winters J. The Salomon XA Pro 3D is standard mesh, which keeps your feet cool but offers the protection of a solid hiking or patrol boot. If you prefer a boot style, they have a mid-height, which is what I wear on patrol. The XA Pro 3D and 3D GTX look almost identical so you can still achieve uniformity whether the officer chooses waterproof or not.
I am on my second pair of Salomon XA Pro 3Ds. Typically, I spend 5-8 hours per shift on the bike. Our squad routinely hits the trails for weekly bike training workouts in addition to patrolling daily in a bar district. With all of that wear and tear, the Salomons have held up for a little over a year. The price is fair, ranging from $110.00-$150.00 depending on where you purchase and what style you prefer.
I have owned and tested the Haix Black Eagle Low 11, which is a similar type shoe as far as looks go but I found it to be far less comfortable. Although it is a great patrol shoe, it does not offer the variety of colors and options that Salomon provide. I looked into Five Ten brand shoes, which are comfortable, but I could not bear to buy a pair; they looked like a BMX-style, flat-bottom shoe that would better paired with ripped cargo shorts than a uniform.
The comfort and protection are – bar none – the best I have found in a patrol/bike patrol shoe. They fit pretty true to size, protect your toes and arch, and provide boot-style protection with a running shoe feel.
The Bad (well, kind of)
In my case, due to the climate, I purchase only the non-Gore-Tex style XA Pro’s, which allow my feet to breathe in the hot Arizona summers. Lacking the Gore-Tex lining, they offer no water protection, so when it does rain or I step in a puddle, the comfortable mesh/foam on the top of the shoe acts like a sponge, absorbing all outside moisture. Similarly, my feet due tend to get rather cold in the winter due to the airy body of the shoe.
For more information, visit http://www.salomon.com/us/. Salomon does not currently participate in the IPMBA Product Purchase Program.
Kurt is a senior member of the Tempe Police Bike Squad. He has over eight years of police experience, including more than two on bike patrol. He is one of the lead instructors of Tempe’s three-day, state-approved bike school. He is also a firearms instructor, field training officer, and high risk stop instructor. He has amassed almost 2000 hours of police instruction. The Bike Squad was established in 1992 and has grown to over 20 members and multiple supervisors with focused enforcement in the Mill Avenue Bar District. He can be reached at Kurtbu@live.com.
Photos courtesy Kurt Buczkowski.
(c) 2016 IPMBA. This review appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of IPMBA News.