Source: bike shops, catalogs
Sizes: 38-52 (half sizes from 38.5 to 46.5)
How obtained: sample from company
RBR advertiser: no
Tested: 450 miles
Bike shoes are a little like bike seats in that every rider needs to find the brand and model that fits their anatomy. For me, when it’s time for new shoes, I always look to a family-owned Italian company called Sidi. Since being introduced to these handcrafted shoes in the early 1980s, they’ve been my favorites because they fit perfectly, maximize pedal power and look right out of the pro peloton (because they are).
The Genius 5 Mesh is Sidi’s most-popular road model, coming midrange in the company’s extensive lineup. Available in men’s and women’s lasts, they’re built with a combination of mesh and Lorica synthetic leather. The Lorica conforms to my feet with a glove-like feel, it breathes and it’s water and abrasion resistant. Mesh panels complement the comfort package, helping keep feet dry, cool and comfortable. Little scoops next to the buckles draw a breeze into the shoes.
Not surprisingly for the company that was first with such significant shoe innovations as adjustable cleats and hook-and-loop closures, the Genius 5 boasts an impressive array of features that enhance comfort, fit and pedaling efficiency. The Millennium II soles are made of a lightweight-yet-robust plastic that flexes ever so slightly for comfort yet seems to waste no energy. Graduated scales on the soles make cleat alignment easy. Molded plastic heel cups help prevent rocking or power loss.
The retention system is comprised of 3 straps: the top one with a buckle and 2 lower ones that fasten with Velcro. The top (“Arch Compression”) strap includes a 1.75-inch-wide padded panel that comfortably cradles the top of the foot. The SL Buckle has a small ratcheting lever that lets you fine-tune strap tension even while riding. The 2 “High Security” straps are called that because they include clever little interconnecting toothed pieces that keep the Velcro from loosening or wearing out, a common shoe-killer.
The fit and feel of the Genius 5 couldn’t be better. My first ride in them was 85 miles and they were completely comfortable from the first pedal stroke. They’re also quite light and stiff, which adds to confidence on fast and tough rides.
The $230 price is stout (though not even half of Sidi’s most expensive shoe), but the Genius 5 is built to last for several seasons. Plus, various parts are replaceable, including the main straps, buckles and heel tabs. That’s important because the main component, Lorica, is tougher than natural leather and holds up extremely well in all conditions, wet or dry, as my 8-year-old Sidi mountain-bike shoes prove.
If the Genius 5 fits you as well as they do me, I think you’ll be very happy with a pair and enjoy them for years to come.