Harley-Davidson Steinman Sneaker Review

A waterproof, stylish option for around town—but not much protection.

Harley-Davidson’s Steinman high-top riding sneakers come in black or brown leather, with a 6-inch height and a 1.25-inch rubber outer sole.
Harley-Davidson’s Steinman high-top riding sneakers come in black or brown leather, with a 6-inch height and a 1.25-inch rubber outer sole.Andrew Cherney

Who doesn’t make a riding sneaker these days? At this point the list incorporates most of the heavy hitters in the apparel game, players like Alpinestars, Roland Sands, Rev’It, Dainese, and more. Harley has dipped a toe—ahem—into the casual shoe market before, but not quite with the level of commitment that its 2019 footwear collection shows. You can scan through well over a dozen sneaker styles, some of them waterproof, and many of them high-tops, which is where we began our search. We picked up the Steinmans since they seemed to combine the best feature set of the bunch (though they were also lacking a few—but more on that later).

That full-grain leather looks the business, is waterproof, and is fairly comfy right out of the box (though after a couple of weeks it’ll break in to feel much better).
That full-grain leather looks the business, is waterproof, and is fairly comfy right out of the box (though after a couple of weeks it’ll break in to feel much better).Andrew Cherney

The Steinmans slot into Harley-Davidson Footwear’s latest line of riding sneakers, which the company says is perfect for riders who love on/off the bike style, with “the freedom of a sneaker, [and] function of a boot.” The brown leather Steinmans I slipped on sure looked like they had the casual high-top, laced styling down, but they also offered up full-grain waterproof leather with a breathable waterproof membrane liner (called Hydro-Guard in H-D-speak), and a strategically placed leather shift pad across the toe area. A “lightweight but tough rubber outsole” is attached to the upper via cement construction, rounding out the exterior details.

Contrast stitching, metal eyelets, a reflective heel patch, and reinforced shift pad round out the features.
Contrast stitching, metal eyelets, a reflective heel patch, and reinforced shift pad round out the features.Andrew Cherney

I also dug the fact that there was a reflective patch fixed midway up the back heel where those behind you would see it most in the dark, and the overall build quality felt solid. The contrast stitching looked legit, and the robust leather outer thick enough to stand up to most road rash. Kudos to H-D for using tougher leather material for the shift pad rather than just a contrasting piece of nylon. Metal lace eyelets are also a nice touch so that laces get through cleanly, and the shoe’s tongue is properly padded for better comfort. The 6-inch-tall Steinmans went on easy and have a reasonably wide toe box to accept larger feet, though they definitely run about a half-size big (your results may vary). I’d suggest ordering a half size smaller than your usual cut, or trying them on in the store first. The 1.25-inch-high rubber soles also felt comfortable enough on the first walk-through.

Thick, reinforced leather sits across the toes to give you some protection from angry shifter arms.
Thick, reinforced leather sits across the toes to give you some protection from angry shifter arms.Andrew Cherney

You can probably tell there’s a “but” coming. So what exactly turned me off? The fact that there is zero padding at the top of the boot collar, a somewhat flimsy heel stiffener (rather than reinforcements), and no armor or ankle protection. At $160, the Steinman is priced at right about the middle of the market and probably appropriately for its feature set, but I guess I like to nitpick. I was also less than impressed by the somewhat generic insole, but again, not at all surprised—a thin, arch-less insert is pretty much par for the course for most sub-$200 casual motorcycle shoes I’ve tried on in the last few years. As for the outer sole? Felt grippy enough, but the tread pattern is almost nonexistent, so I can’t say how these things will be on uneven surfaces.

A retro-reflective patch at the top of the heel counter ensures (hopefully) you’ll be seen from behind at night.
A retro-reflective patch at the top of the heel counter ensures (hopefully) you’ll be seen from behind at night.Andrew Cherney

The final nitpick: the shoelaces feel cheap and almost not up to the task. The Steinmans lace up securely and the laces may say “reinforced with nylon,” but those things are flat and thin and easily knotted. Give me some thick, double reinforced nylon puppies that hold their round shape and don’t feel like threads.

The rubber outer sole has an odd abstract pattern but not much of a tread, so these are probably best for urban environments only.
The rubber outer sole has an odd abstract pattern but not much of a tread, so these are probably best for urban environments only.Andrew Cherney

I’ve had the Steinmans for a couple of months now and put about 500 miles on them in various conditions. The waterproof leather has broken in to feel more comfortable, but the only wet stuff I’ve encountered so far was a brief morning shower on a short trip downtown; for that episode, my feet definitely stayed nice and dry. The waterproof leather also works to cut down wind blast so there’s a measure of protection from the cold as well, but I’d still only consider this a two-season shoe—there’s no insulation and the soles alone would be no match for slipperier stuff. As urban riding shoes go, the Steinmans are pretty much on par with the competition at this price point and I’ll probably keep wearing them around town; they’re comfortable, styling is on point, and they’re a good fit for the rainy area I live in. I only wish they had just a _couple_ more features…

I like my laces thick and grippy, so I’ll be replacing the Steinman’s thin flat stock items in short order.
I like my laces thick and grippy, so I’ll be replacing the Steinman’s thin flat stock items in short order.Andrew Cherney
The Steinman’s look quite a bit different in the black option.
The Steinman’s look quite a bit different in the black option.Harley-Davidson