By Brandon Bilyeu
- Wide last gives extra room for the toes
- Super stiff sole but still loads of comfort
- Slotted cleat mounting holes
- Knit upper breathes well and hugs foot securely
- Sticky heal cup, no heal lift
- Quality laces stay tied and don’t loosen
- Laces can’t be adjusted while riding
- Almost non-existent arch support
How obtained: review sample from company
Colors: Salt White, Pure Black
Website: Cima Cycling Shoes
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 50+ hours
Sizing: 38-46 (full sizes only)
Fit Comments: The size chart shows both UK and US equivalents, actual foot measurements in millimeters, and comparison to other cycling brands (Rapha, Fizik, Giro, Northwave, Sidi, Shimano, Specialized). I typically wear 44.5 and based on my foot measurements tested the 44s and they fit great.
New Brand, but No Lack of Experience
UDOG (short for Underdog) is based in Italy and hit the direct-to-consumer market in 2021 with the mid-level Tensione shoes that boast unique external mid-foot support straps. They followed up in 2022 with the top-level Cima shoes that are stiff and light for climbing (Cima translates to summit or mountain top). Both shoes are available exclusively with laces, no ratchet straps or twisty dials to be seen.
The founders of UDOG have a long history in the cycling industry, boasting previous work for brands like Fizik, Pinarello, Kask, and Cranbrothers. The quality, fit, and performance of the Cima shoes is therefore no surprise.
Stiff and Comfortable Full Carbon Sole
The Cima is built around a super stiff full carbon sole that boasts a stiffness rating of 11. As will all shoe brands, this is a fairly meaningless number as there is no standard to compare one brand to another, but what I can tell you is the sole is very stiff. I can’t detect any deflection in my hands or hammering on the bike. Sometimes stiff can mean uncomfortable, but I haven’t experienced any issues with harsh ride or numbness from vibration.
The last of the Cima is purposely designed with a blunt and wide toe box to fit actual human feet. My feet certainly appreciated the extra room as I’m normally a bit cramped by the typical skinny cycling shoes with pointy toes. One thing missing from the sole is built-in arch support so be prepared to upgrade the insoles if you want any meaningful arch support. I put in some aftermarket insoles and at least the flat sole supports the insoles properly.
The sole has a toe inlet vent and midfoot exhaust vent for cooling which works well with the supplied insoles, but not so much with my aftermarket insoles. There are very solid toe and heel pads that still show zero signs of wear, which is good as they are not replaceable. The three-hole cleat mounting points have etched location marks and about ¼ inch (6mm) fore/aft adjustment built in.
Knit Upper and Laces Keep Feet Secure and Comfortable
The knit upper is quite soft so it conforms to the foot nicely and there is no stretch so you can really lock your foot in place. The knit is actually very tight with no large gaps (definitely not like an open mesh), but still lets in plenty of cooling air. The material itself doesn’t absorb water so even when wet they don’t feel water-logged and drain well. I was ‘lucky’ enough to test these in a thunderstorm and the white knit came home brown, but a quick wash under the hose before they dried got them back to like-new white.
The Cima’s are secured with laces and they do a great job of helping the shoes conform to the feet and avoid any pressure points. I’m a big fan of twisty dials for easy on-the-bike adjustments, but you really can’t beat the fit achieved with laces. Plus, you can customize the lacing pattern to attain different fits. I like a loose toe box and tight ankle so I skipped some eyelets at the forefoot. It took a little trial and error, but now I’ve got the feel for the correct tightness so can lace then up at home and not touch them during the ride. A small but important detail is the laces themselves and UDOG did an excellent job of spec’ing the proprietary laces as they form great knots and don’t come loose the slightest bit.
Lace storage is done with UDOG’s unique Pocket Tongue System. A piece of material on top of the tongue creates a pocket that you push the laces into. Then you fold the tongue over and secure it under an elastic bridge on top of the shoe. It works great and makes for a clean look. The pocket is both sewn and bonded to the tongue and I did get some bond failures, but UDOG knows about the issue and it should not be a problem for future orders (and of course they will exchange shoes if the problem happens). Even with the bond failure the pocket still worked fine for me.
Excellent comfort without sacrificing performance. The knit upper, laces, and anatomically shaped last combine for a superb fit. The stiff carbon sole feels great and doesn’t lose any power. Definitely worth considering if you are in the market for new kicks.
Brandon Bilyeu is an avid recreational roadie who lives in Portland, Oregon, and enjoys road, track and ‘cross racing. He’s also a year-round bike commuter and is a mechanical design engineer by trade. Click to read Brandon’s full bio.