By Joshua Cohen
Sidi has been hand-making cycling shoes in Maser, Italy since 1960. The company is well known for beautifully crafted, highly durable and comfortable shoes that are as popular among recreational riders as among pros.
Sidi shoes have never been cheap. But when you buy a pair you know you will get many years of reliable performance. In fact, Sidi is one of very few shoemakers to offer replacement parts for almost anything that can wear or break.
For 2008, Sidi has upgraded its top-of-line Ergo 2 with several improvements. The most striking is the full-carbon sole. Sidi has been hesitant to use carbon because a rigid sole can work against foot comfort, especially on long rides. To address this, Sidi developed a tapered sole that allows a small amount of flex toward the toes while maintaining a stiff and efficient platform for the rest of the foot. This flex is calculated to improve blood circulation, which then lessens the risk of painful “hot foot.”
The sole is literally “full carbon,” meaning it has no foam or cardboard core. This makes it thinner, which puts the foot closer to the pedal axle. A replaceable pad protects the heel and reduces the chance of slipping in the cafe.
Also new is an adjustable “Heel Security System” retention device. This V-shaped plastic apparatus wraps around the upper heel with two arms that can be made narrower or wider with small adjustment screws. You set the spacing to prevent heel slippage during hard upward pulls on the pedals.
Sidi continues to use a wide arch compression strap and ratchet buckle mechanism. The ratchet has been updated to a new “micrometric” Caliper system. Compared to Sidi’s older SL ratchet, the Caliper loses half-step adjustability but gains strength and security. The padded compression strap can accommodate a wide range of arch heights.
The Ergo 2 uses the Techno II closure system for the instep rather than a Velcro strap. This buckle has a monofilament line that creates even and secure pressure along the instep. The ratchet is released by pushing on a small lever above the dial. The Techno II buckle is smaller and can be replaced more easily than the previous version.
Forefoot adjustments are made with a Velcro strap. It has locking plastic teeth in the hook-and-loop material to reduce chances of slipping.
On the Road
I was introduced to the Sidi shoe line with the Genius 2 model, which I happily wore for almost 10 years. The Ergo 2 lives up to Sidi’s reputation for durable, efficient and full-featured shoes that feel like slippers. The Techno II buckle is a clear advantage over the usual hook-and-loop strap, being easily replaceable and offering more precise tension control.
Overall, these shoes are advantageously stiff. Any flex in the carbon soles was not noticeable. That’s a plus because I didn’t have any hot spots either. At 640 grams for the pair, Ergo 2s don’t feel as light as some other race shoes in their sky-high price range. However, those other shoes may not have adjustable fit mechanisms that make these Sidis shine.
The Heel Security System works. At first I thought it was a gimmick. Riding proved otherwise, as I could easily tell how it snugged my heels to prevent slippage. This feature will be a big help if you have exceptionally thin or wide ankles. Otherwise, it’s nice to have but probably not necessary. Other Sidi shoes with the nonadjustable version of the Heel Security System have worked as well for my ordinary feet.
The new Caliper buckle is stronger than the previous SL buckle. If you tighten an SL lever as much as it will go, the ratchet tooth on the lever can bend and slip over the ridges on the strap. That doesn’t happen with the Caliper design. I miss the half-step adjustment but applaud the increased strength of the new design.
If money isn’t a big obstacle and you want a fully featured, handmade pair of Italian cycling shoes that will last many years, visit a pro shop and try on a pair of Ergo 2s. If you buy them I can’t imagine you’ll ever be sorry.
If you can’t handle spending $450 on a pair of shoes but want to experience the legendary Sidi fit and construction, there are several less-expensive models that incorporate some of the same features. Sidi is good about trickling its technology through the rest of the line.
Joshua Cohen is a physical therapist and designer of the Kontact Saddle. He wrote his graduate thesis on male ergonomic bicycle seat design. Then, distilling his voluminous scholarly research, he wrote Finding the Perfect Bicycle Seat and, more recently, The Illustrated Guide to Bicycle Seats. Both eBooks are available in the RBR eBookstore.