Review Of the Elby Skate Shoe
Brooklyn Workshop released the Elby Skate Shoe recently, a shoe engineered for longboarding, specifically. This is, as we have said for a while, a good thing: a company pushing design and technology for our scene. Before you pick up your torches and pitchforks, accusing another company of cashing in on the fad, this isn’t the penny board, it isn’t the jeans commuter series and this isn’t the new Crocs Skate shoe. This shoe comes with a pedigree and they assure us a material legitimacy that brings what long boarders want; most of all innovation and gear that can handle the rigors of our sport.
Many companies have developed shoes, and some of them have made shoes for skating. Some of those have even been pretty decent to wear while skating. Some even handle it quite well. None however have fully managed the full task that a longboarder commits his shoes to. Something always gives in, something is always lacking and it seems compromises are always made. We got our hands on a couple pairs and put the soles down on the street to see where the reality beyond compromise lays.
Origin Of The Design
The Elby shoes come out of Brooklyn Workshop and is based on the works of award winning designer Alan Karpman combined with the knowledge of longtime designer who has worked with companies such as Nike and Converse, Michael DiTullo. The two came together over a mutual admiration of each other’s design works. Alon approached Michael about collaboration, which laid the ground work for the multitude of innovations that went into this shoe.
The Tech On Paper
It’s a shoe, you put your foot in the top of it and your toes go in the far end then you place your heel down into it. You then you use the supplied laces to tighten and affix it to your foot hopefully permanently.
Beyond that? The shoe is light. It’s a vulcanized shoe with what Brooklyn Workshop claims to be a high abrasion sole featuring an anvil shaped tread, with BROOKLYN lettering down the face of it. The shoe upper has an additional rubber drag patch, coverings in specific high wear areas on the top cap, either side. The entire exterior rubber wrap actually has another overlay that provides the additional cap and side protection. Then there is an additional rubber runner between the vulcanized shoe sole and the canvas. There is a suede overlay protector for the base of the laces, and last but not least the durometer of the rubber used was hand-picked for durability, grip, and board feel. Oh yea, and the aglet, the only thing between your laces and the infuriating fur ball that road rashed laces become – that is steel.
Looks are subjective, they come in a number of different color ways and are currently available in both leather and canvas iterations. We are not going to comment much on their actual look, mostly because we tend to not be looking at our feet as we skate but also because most of our reviewers wear whatever they have with the least holes in them, and the guys that designed the shoes have earned awards and have jobs and stuff where they get paid to do stuff like this so really if it’s us against them we trust their design opinions above our own. It’s really no contest. A simple confirmation that they are not terrible, one of our wives’ said and I quote “they don’t look that bad” and then was subsequently seen in public with us. We wore them. What more do you want.
The Riding Experience.
They’re really are two primary factors with the Elby shoes, their level of protection and durability; and then there is the board feel. As for durability we hardly damaged the soles in weeks of riding, sliding, foot breaking and pushing. We dragged harder than usual, on hot Californian streets. Rolled that knee over and just let the shoe ride on the grip...we did what we could and minimal impact, hardly any wear, and what wear there was especially on the sole was far less than what was expected. All the seams stayed together, and the biggest wear issue we were concerned about, the two leather wraps on the outer sole separating. Yea that did not happen at all.
Another concern we had with the shoes was the grip during footbreaking, obviously if you are making a choice between durability and grip it is important to be able to put your foot down and break without your shoe getting torn off at 30mph again, there was no issue, footbreaking occurred with ease and smoothness and as we said before minimal wear.
As for Board feel, this is again somewhat subjective mostly depending on the type of sole you usually rock. The board feel on these shoes is much more sensitive than most of the shoes we have worn, with a seemingly very specific enhancement of the tactile board feel near the toe and heel. The shoe feels as though there is a differing level of material allowing you to better feel the rail. Riding boards we had been riding for weeks we became more aware of the contours of the decks rails in a way we had not felt before.
We hardly took off a few mm from the soles, and did almost no damage to the sides of the cap, the canvas itself is still intact and the rest of the shoe is pretty much undamaged there is a stich that wore on the inside of the heel, but it’s not frayed loose. The expectation is that the sole on these shoes should outlast basically any other shoe that is in its same class. I.e. Vulcanized. For longer wear you would expect to see cup soul shoes outlast the Elby. That is the tradeoff though, Board feel is better with a Vulc sole and that is basically what Elby has done, tried to give us the best wearing / best board feel possible. That said, no shoes will last forever and it all depends on the damage you do to them.
We demand high tops, and the Elby High Top has been promised to be in the works.
Other than that the real main issue we had was with the general fit. The actual insole itself didn’t feel super comfortable or supportive. Our solution to that and also a recommendation from the company themselves was to wear an insole which in all honesty solved that issue. With a shoe of this caliber something like the general comfort of the insole should be basic, and Elby has plans to resolve that issue. Being no stranger to the path of development you can expect Elby to do nothing but improve on what they have already done, and respond to all the feedback they have received.
Brooklyn Workshop has designed the Elby to be the “first skate shoe designed and engineered for longboarding”. We feel they have done that. They truly seem to have taken a check list of the prominent wear issues that your standard Vulc sole skate shoe has and improved upon them while still delivering fantastic board feel.
The level of design foresights and the quality of materials delivers a great shoe and Brooklyn Workshop has actively emphasized the importance of community feedback, so these shoes can only get better.
With big things on the horizon and already setting sights on developing other products is proof positive that they are committed to actually providing what they set out to do. Enjoy skating, burning though shoes not as fun? Check out the Elby Skate Shoe.