Color: White Vernice
Sizes: 39 through 48 in full sizes with half sizes from 39.5 to 46.5 (this shoe unavailable in women’s model)
Cleat compatibility: Speedplay (4-bolt); the Ergo 3 Vent Carbon Lite model accepts 3-bolt pedal systems
Weight (pair): 720 gram
RBR advertiser: no
Obtained: Test sample from company
Miles tested: 200
Great Shoes That Maximize Your Pedal Power
Any way you look at it, $500 is a lot to pay for a pair of cycling shoes. I may not have even requested Sidi’s Ergo 3 SP Carbons had I known they were so pricey. I just knew I wanted a pair of 4-bolt carbon shoes to go with my new Speedplay Zero pedals. And when I heard Sidi offered them, it was an easy decision since I’ve been riding in Sidis for a couple of decades.
I still have 4 pairs, some road, some mountain, that are going strong though I’ve abused them every way possible. I don’t have a lot of miles on these new Sidis but enough so I know They’re exceptional shoes that???ll last and perform as well as the ones I already own.
I should have realized that their top-line shoes would command a top-line price. They are handmade in Italy after all, fully featured, magnificently crafted (I wish they made some dress shoes I could buy) and slipper comfortable. If the price worries you, consider that if you take care of them, they could be the last road cycling shoes you ever buy (they come with a Sidi shoe bag for safe-keeping).
For Speedplay Only
The unique thing about these new Sidis is that they have 4-hole carbon soles specifically made for Speedplay cleats, which use 4 bolts. This lets you enjoy the full promise of the Speedplay system, which puts you closer to the pedals than any other clipless platform because the pedals fit inside the cleats when engaged (the opposite of how other clipless systems work).
Shoes with Speedplay-compatible soles are pretty new. These Sidi Ergos were the first pair I heard of — another reason I wanted to try them. Up until 4-hole shoes became available, you rode standard 3-bolt shoes with cleat adapters in order to run your Speedplays. But the adapters raised your feet above the pedals, negating the extreme low-profile advantage of the Speedplay system, and they added weight to the system.
I’ve ridden Speedplay pedals like that but didn’t like the complication of the cleats plus adapters, so I returned to Look pedals that are compatible with 3-hole shoes.
It’s All About Pedal Power
Yet, I always wondered how a dedicated shoe made for the Speedplay system would work, and the new Sidis gave me the chance to find out. Not only would I be able to use the Speedplay cleats flush with the shoe soles, I would also be able to lower my seat about half a centimeter, the amount you typically raise a seat to account for the height of Look cleats. Sitting lower puts you closer to the ground and can improve overall bike handling.
Since this was the primary reason I got the Ergo 3s, let me cut to the chase: these shoes, with their super-stiff carbon soles attached almost directly on top of the pedals, make you feel more connected to your bicycle than ever before. Your legs feel attached to the crankarms and every pedal stroke seems to drive your bike forward more immediately.
I’m not describing it well, but you feel the difference every time you hit the gas. I can’t remember anything feeling as natural, from clips and straps, to all the different clipless pedal systems I’ve ridden. It has to be more efficient, and it also feels more comfortable with your foot fully engaged instead of resting above the pedal. I love it.
Sidi packs the Ergo 3s with many features that complement the Speedplay system’s pedaling efficiency and comfort, too. The carbon soles are actually made of high-quality T700 carbon, in hand lay-ups by the same folks making Ferrari and Ducati parts (another clue to why the Ergos cost a fortune). And they have a bit of built-in flex at the toes to relieve pressure points and prevent hot foot.
The uppers are made of a Lorica Microfiber synthetic leather That’s actually tougher than the real thing, with mesh for breathability and moisture transfer. When purchasing Sidis, be sure to get the correct size because Lorica does not stretch even if you get it soaking wet as I have many times. Inside the shoes are soft, dual-density insoles.
But, perhaps the highlight, and why Sidis are the choice of so many pro riders, is the advanced fitting features that let you dial in a truly custom fit. There’s a unique closure for each part of the foot. A Velcro strap over the forefoot has Sidi’s High-Security Velcro, a locking system so it won’t change adjustment. Over the midfoot is their Techno II ratcheting dial that tightens and loosens a monofilament lace that lets you click in the perfect tension over your arch. And at the top of the foot you have Sidi’s Caliper ratcheting buckle and wide strap for quick and easy entry/exit and fine-tuning on-the-fly. Slipping these shoes on and adjusting the fit provides an appreciation of how they got the name Ergo.
More Than Just Straps
What really sets the Sidis apart, though, is another clever fitting device, their Adjustable Heel Security System. This is a wrap-around piece of plastic that reinforces the top of the heel cup and back of the shoe. But it does even more. You can tweak it on both sides for 6mm of lateral adjustment to really fine-tune the back of the shoes and improve power transfer, comfort and eliminate heel lift. I’ve loosened up a lot of shoes in the heels, so I like how this lets you find a great fit and also tighten up the heels should they loosen over time.
I’m loving the fit, comfort and especially the awesome pedaling efficiency of these Sidi Ergo SP shoes. I’m also impressed with the craftsmanship that helps you understand how they could cost so much. They look and feel like they were molded to my feet. And, I’m sure they’ll be going strong 10, maybe even 20 years from now. As with all shoes, you need to try them on for yourself to make sure they’re right. And again, get the right size the first time; don’t expect them to stretch and loosen up with miles — they won’t.
If the Sidis don’t fit or are too expensive, according to Speedplay, companies including Adidas, Bontrager, DMT, Lake, Northwave and Rocket 7 make shoe models with 4-hole Speedplay-compatible soles.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.