When Shimano introduced its fully customizable top of the line SH-R300, the Italians at Sidi didn’t seem to care because 2009’s version of the Sidi Ergo 2 almost identical to the version debuted in 2007.
Most riders all over the world feel the same way – even the Pro’s tend to use Sidi’s more than all other shoes combined. And as testament to it’s quality Sidi is the most popular selling shoemaker in the United States despite its price tag.
I’ve had my personal pair of Ergo 2’s for two years. When I first tried them on I thought they were nice, but I actually didn’t think they were as special as most people proclaimed. However, I got more excited about them while I was on the bike – for me they make riding more fun.
Even two years down the road I love climbing in them, my heel doesn’t lift out and they are so stiff I feel like the carbon sole engages into the pedals. Sometimes I feel like my feet are on autopilot and hard to believe that I have thousands of miles on them. When I’m wearing them I feel like I could ride all day, even though I’m an out of shape couch potato.
I think my perceptions of the shoes come from the craftsmanship and construction that I want to highlight next.
The only complaint in the general peloton is the assumption that a Sidi’s fit too narrow for many riders. But in fact, Sidi makes a wide range of sizes including three different widths up to EE for larger feet.
The heart and soul of the shoe comes from the carbon sole and a Lorica upper.
The top of the shoe is not leather, but a microfiber material fabricated by DuPont. Lorica doesn’t come from cows, but it’s softer than leather, won’t stretch like leather, hold odor like leather or hold water like leather. Using this material creates a stiff, comfortable, long lasting, breathable and very durable shoe.
You can see true craftsmanship from the hole drillings for the cleats. The patented full carbon sole is thinner at the toe than at the heel allowing for minimum stack height at the pedal and maximum stiffness without discomfort. But the carbon is reinforced around the cleat area stabilizing it against the added stresses of pedaling. The stiffness of the carbon sole is also dampened by a thin layer of cork between the carbon sole and the insole acting as a thin shock absorber using natural material. This interior keeps your blood circulation undeterred to prevent hot spots during longer rides.
While there is a lot of mesh for ventilation allover this shoe, there are also two vents in the hard outer heel cup shell. This kind of venting in the heel is uncommon but very welcome. The heel cup also sports two reflectors in the base and two more on each side above the HCS, something other performance shoes sometimes overlook despite their necessity.
At the top of the heel Sidi developed an adjustable heel cup system (the HCS) that wraps around the Achilles tendon keeping the heel from moving around and lifting. The “HCS” can be adjusted to suit any rider by turning the screws on the rear of the shoe to keep the heel stable even while sprinting.
Like the brakes on your bike you can adjust this more on one side or another to help customize it to your foot. This type of adjustable heel cup is a rare feature, one that is unlikely to be found on any other shoe. No more need for duct tape.
Furthering the snug fit are Sidi’s famous Techno II buckles, and the firm SL ratcheting buckle. The main strap can be tightened with a simple tug on the inside SL lever. This is lockdown is far more resistant to clogging with mud and dirt than some buckles on the market.
The release is on the sides of the buckle away from the tightening mechanism so it isn’t confusing between the two. The benefit of the release is how you can loosen the strap tension in very short increments to dial in the fit – an upgrade requested by Gilberto Simoni.
The Techno II buckle is an iconic mechanism that has made Sidi an unmistakable sight. Near the toe of the shoe a line retention system wraps the shoe around your foot volume. It was also designed to relieve pressure points working in tandem with the thin padded tongue creating a “custom fit” every time you put on the shoe. To adjust the Techno II buckle you flip up and twist the circular wheel.
My one and only problem with these shoes is how the Techno II buckle can fall apart and disappear on you. The fastening rod that so elegantly makes the line system so light and highly adjustable can also slide off and cause you to loose the buckle if left unchecked.
On one of my first rides I noticed the rod slipping but couldn’t fix it until the next regroup and when I looked down it had already come apart leaving the pieces on the roadside somewhere behind my group. And as bike shops go, they did not have these small parts on hand. I had to order them but was saved because Sidi’s are rebuildable in this manner.
A nice touch is added to the Velcro strap at the toe. Inside is an indexed strip of teeth that once snug won’t shift or slip making it more secure than any other.
But you might be able to still find some of the fancy steel-lux from 2008 on sale.
Sidi is always coming out with limited editions of this shoe for a little more bling.
Like all other Sidi shoes, just about every enclosure piece is replaceable and rebuildable. The Techno II buckle, the SL strap, the heel cup and the heel on the bottom of the shoe can all be replaced. Now many shoe companies build their shoes to be maintained like this, but Sidi was a pioneer in this level of durability and shoes that were serviceable.
The option to refurbish shoes like this will allow you to enjoy these shoes for a very long time. It is not out of reach to imagine using these shoes for even ten years with good care.
While custom builds and sizing is loudest buzzword at the bike shops, Sidi offers convention and provides the most ultimate riding experience you can find.
Sizes: 39-48 (half sizes 39.5 – 46.5)
Weight: 642 g
Price: $499 (2008′s might be on clearance online)