Friday Group Ride #396

Friday Group Ride #396

My 13-year-old has somehow become a sneaker freaker, which is no small feat for a kid without a regular paycheck. I find pairs of small shoes littered by the front door or kicked off by the couch, where I trip over them. He takes a keener interest in the weather now, so he doesn’t ruin his investment. So that’s something.

A friend of mine was guessing, just today, that shoe fetishism was coming to cycling, if it’s not already here. Our friends at Giro have been releasing limited edition shoes in all manner of cool colors and patterns, like these and these, which are even co-branded with these purveyors of cool.

It’s happening. Or it’s trying to happen. This is not judgement. It’s just reporting.

And I am not immune to the charms of a great shoe, or even a stylish one. The last pair of road shoes I bought are white, WHITE!, a color I previously would have disdained as too Euro and too hard to keep clean. My former philosophy was that you could wear any shoes you wanted as long as they were black Sidis. Black Sidis are still cool.

The horrifying truth that underlies all this style over substance is that different shoes suit different feet. Padraig, for example, like high volume shoes, cause he has high volume feet. My feet are more conventional. My wife needs a narrower fit. And I tend to think that it’s even more important to get the right footwear when that footwear is more like a piece of equipment than what you wear to the grocery store (unless you’re click-clacking through produce in a pair of black Sidis).

This week’s Group Ride asks, where are you on the cycling shoe fetish spectrum? How often are you buying new shoes? What do you like? What do you hate? And what, beyond style, makes a great shoe great?

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29 comments

  1. Kimball

    If I had easy to fit feet I would be tempted by some of the new offerings, but my feet are long, bony, and low volume so Sidis in narrow are it. No complaints though; great shoes.

  2. Scott M

    I wore a pair of Black Sidis until there were holes in the lining of the heal.
    I bought another pair of Black Sidis and wore them out too.
    My last shoes were black Bontragers about a half size too small. I wore through the hard-plastic toe shield on my takeoff foot. It was hanging by a thread so I pasted it in place with some black electrical tape, until that wore through and the piece fell off mid ride.
    My current clogs are newish Bontragers (black) with the Boa fastener system. I’m working on wearing them out.
    My wife wants to know what I plan to do with the old pair. “Rain shoes,” I say.

  3. Jay

    I wore Sidis (black or titanium) Ifor a long time, and also Nikes. Best fitting shoes I ever had (narrow feet) were Nike Ultras (black), with a velcro back strap. No wearing Shimano heat-moldable shoes. White, with black trim.

  4. Kevin Collings

    Black Specialized for me. Bought a fancy pair of Giro’s but the fit just didn’t work on me. Their return policy sucked so I’m stuck trying to sell them now :/

    1. Davo

      I steered a teammate to Giro a couple years ago and when he had a problem he also experienced the lame Giro “Policy of No Return,” about a year ago. They broke my heart as well. He’s loaded up on Sidi’s and I’ve jumped to high end Shimano road and off-road shoes and love them. Giro blew it, I won’t even read their reviews now.

  5. Winky

    Been Sidis for me as long as I can remember. Well, 20+ years anyway. I get 5-7 years I get out of them until they become “wet weather commuter” shoes and are ultimately retired when the the next new pair comes in at the top. By this stage they are about 12 years old. Hard to complain. Buckles and bits are always available to keep them alive. Latest pair are some Sidi Tigers for my gravel adventures.

  6. Michael

    Sidis road and dirt, because of the fit (low volume, bony, high arch), with an after-market arch support. I find I need to walk a few steps to settle them in before the adjustments are right. I replace the ratchets occasionally, and keep a spare pair around for this. Black is best, but if there is a sale, I’ll accept silver. Not white though – looks too ratty in too little time. I had some Duegis in the early 80’s, I think, that were okay, back in the days of nailed-on cleats. I tried a few other brands back then too, but I think I’ve had Sidis at least since the late 80s. Except once. An employee at an LBS convinced me that Specialized shoes were great fits. Maybe they fit HER feet, but they were always just planks strapped on my feet. When I nailed the ratchet slipping through a gap between two big rocks, I surprised myself with a “Yes!! Now I can get rid of these shoes!” before I worried about the ride home. I am sure there are other shoes out there that would fit me, but why bother if I know these Sidis will be good? So, fit is foremost, and of course function. I really have no interest in fancy laces and such. Good shoes can last a few years, and I start scouting for sales about a year or so before they die.

  7. Dizzy

    I started w/black Shimono road shoes but was too uncomfortable when walking so I switched to mtb’s. I went w/black Pearl Izumi X-Alp’s and love them. They are now thread bare and I’ve been looking over the winter. I ordered Giro “Code VR 70’s” (Giro’s web site still has them in their closeout sale at a great price) but knew immediately my feet would not be happy. No problems w/returning them (unlike what Kevin describes above).
    How often do I buy shoes? Only when necessary.
    What do I like? Black, d/t their ability to hide neglect; velcro or boa closures d/t ease of adjustment on the fly; roomy toe box; deep tread to protect cleats and provide secure walking.
    What makes a great shoe? While riding, if it feels like your skin instead of a shoe, that’s a great shoe!

  8. Fausto

    Detto’s and Duigi and Sidi in black of course. After lusting after the white Sidi I figured I was fast enough to finally get a pair. Takes a lot of work to keep them clean, the mesh parts never clean up well. Love the Shoe Doping with the custom and personalized color and painting. They look great in the picture but will anyone post what they look like a year later? Don’t have the money to keep up with those hipster looks, just keep it simple and clean (like black shorts). The more options out there the better, you can choose what you want. People hate on Rapha but all the companies have been influenced by their designs and they still are not the most expensive out there. Glad to see the options, but the cheapest way to spice up the game is still sock doping.

  9. Brian

    Well since I wear a size 13 UK/14 US it’s not the easiest thing in the world to find a pair of shoes that fit combined with a normal width, a high instep and the need for arch support, it limits the selection. So going to a local shop will often result in; well we have this one pair you can try. Because I live in Scandinavia where that size is still rather big so all I can say is online makes it easier but it’s still often a gamble. Btw using a size 11 in gloves isn’t a lot easier sure size 12 would fit better if I had thick sausage fingers but I don’t so it’s looking for xxl/xxxl in a few brands and not even bothering all the rest.

    Color wise I prefer white shoes and socks other than I like the look it’s also practical since my skin is so white that standing next to new snow it’ll look dirty. Even after a summer of bike riding my tan will work up to almost normal human color. And yes if I had white hair I would technically be a Yeti but as far as I know I’m not.

    So far it’s been Bont and they have been good but they aren’t what I would call pretty so I just bought a pair of Specialized Sub-6 on sale and with a new insole it’s been going ok but it’s still a tight fit.

  10. Girl

    Black Sidis. Shoes are so expensive that I can’t justify being a “shoe whore”. But if I were made of money I’d be the Imelda Marcos of cycling shoes. And motorcycle boots, And hiking boots. And sneakers. And…

  11. Ken Ashton

    I’m a Sidi guy, 45.5. I’m on my 5th pair in 28 years. I wear them until the velcro wears out.
    I’ve tried to find another shoe that would fit well but none of the shops here would have that model or size for me to try on.
    So I stick to whats good because I can find it and it fits great.

  12. Lyford

    Black shoes. Wear until they wear out. Colors are for socks. 😉

    Priorities are comfort, cool in the heat, warm in the cold. Not too worried about weight.

    I do have winter shoes. Much easier than wrestling with booties and shoe covers.

  13. MattC

    Got a my first Sidi’s when I got a replacement road frame in late 2009. The frame is white, so the shoes are (were) white. Still riding them 8+ years later, replacing the bits that wear out as I go. I think white bike shoes are akin to traditional Japanese karate: there’s only 2 belt colors: white and black. Everybody starts w/ white, and over the years of work, sweat and blood it gets darker and darker until it’s finally black. I think in just another few years I might finally be a ‘black shoe’ roadie. They aren’t pretty but what a shoe! And after a few years on them I finally got Sidi MTB shoes, and they are also still going strong many years later (these started out black…so I didn’t actually ‘earn’ the color…skill-wise I’m only a gray-shoe guy). Can’t beat Sidi’s if you have regular to narrow feet. They fit like a glove from day 1!

  14. David

    Wow, everyone in black SIdi’s! Me, too (low volume, narrow feet), but my current pair isn’t black, primarily because I bought them very slightly used from someone who apparently has wide feet and didn’t find them to fit right. Sidi’s current outrageous prices makes this a very attractive strategy (I know- you get what you pay for. True, but I saved over $250!). My current pair of Wires (3 years old and going strong) are white, and even though I thought they would look filthy all the time they look surprisingly good with only minimal care.

  15. Geoffrey Knobl

    Does it allow my feet to connect? Is it comfortable? Lastly, is it light? As long as it doesn’t look like a fancy cocktail drink, that’s all I care about.

  16. AG

    I guess I’m the only one here with wide duck feet (plus a high arch just to make things really difficult). So, Sidis for me too. The Mega shoes are really great right out of the box. Fit is most important, of course. But they gotta be stylish too. Subtle/classic is best for me, so, yeah…black.

  17. Dave

    I have worn Sidis (more than just black…) Northwave, Carnac, Time, but the shoes I currently wear are DMTs R1s and R1 summer. I have their newest model with dual BOA closures and they are white on outer side and black on the inner side near crank. I call them Joker shoes! The summer version are supposed to be more breatheable. They have been the nicest for fit for me with narrow foot and the DMTs have always been light. Thus, I have a shoe fetish…..

  18. Kayce

    Sidis are way too heavy and pricey, even for a bike shop guy. I rode Shimanos for a long time. But their buisness practices made me shop around. Now I am very happily a giro rider. Plus they make the Fluo yellow and black that I love

  19. Bryan

    Black Sidis, road and mountain/cross. They last forever. They fit great. I can buy parts (buckles, ratchets, heel pads) at my LBS if needed. They’re my go to and will continue to be.

  20. Mark

    I like my white Mavics, although I am now in the market for new ones. I have black mavics for cross. I seem to be an outsider here with all the SIDI love.

    The box with the Adidas shoes reminded me of an old pair of black Puma I wore with pride until I broke the sole. The were stiff as heck (and heavy) but worked well with my C-Record pedals on Italian steel. Oh, those were the days.

  21. Aar

    For me, it’s the stiffest sole and best foot support available with a low stack height and snug but not constricting upper. Throw in that it lasts 3-5 years at a decent weight and it’s a shoe for me. The best I’ve found other than true custom is the Bont Vaypor+ in wide width and 4-hole Speedplay drilling with podiatrist made custom orthotics. Currently on my second pair and considering getting the third early because it takes time to dial in the orthotics.

  22. Pingback: Friday Group Ride #397 | RKP

  23. Jeremy

    My 15 year old son is a collector of athletic shoes. Your comment about keeping an eye on the weather to keep them nice made me chuckle. My son bought a pair of Nike Air Jordans and I noticed him walking funny while wearing them and asked him what was up? He says, “I don’t want any creases in the leather” 🙂

  24. Jorgensen

    I had to comment- I still have my pairs of Adidas Merckx shoes, one pair all leather sporting tack on cleats, one pair nylon plain soles, with modern cleats and a fabricated strap to keep the shoe together, and one pair with the two-part adjustable cleats, on my last pair of replacement cleats. My feet just fit the Adidas form well.

    A recent pair of NOS winter cycling shoes. fur lined, warm feet are happy feet.

  25. David Arnold

    I’m rockin the Gaerne Carbon G. Chrono + black…Italian made shoes. Excellent fit…stiff and super comfortable. This is 1 model below the shoe that the Lotto Soudal PRO team uses. I think there is a guy in the factory who has made these shoes for the last 28yrs. I like the fact they are made in Italy and the fit/comfort/lightness is reflected.

  26. Brent

    My first pair was leather Duegi’s with a Velcro strap. Bought them at Michael’s in Ames, Ia in 1985. Had to drill the soles when I splurged $60.00 on a pair of Looks a year later . Rode the crap out of them until the uppers stretched too much my foot would come out without a toe strap. Moved to Sidi Genius, and never looked back. Sidis since then. Bought a pair of black wires a couple years ago. Great shoe.

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