Sidi Shoes: Fifty Years of Innovation

Fancy-yet-functional footwear steeped in history.

By Kevin Rouse

Pie in the sky. Sidi has long aspired to produce the best in the business.

Italy. Say the word and invariably you think of, in some order, pasta, style, machismo and, somewhere along the line, shoes. For a country of 60 million people, Italy produces 178 million pairs of shoes. The country also produces its fair share of cyclists, so it's only natural that the two intersect. Sidi has been manufacturing handmade cycling shoes in Italy for over 50 years and has been one of the most influential pioneers in the industry, responsible for many of the innovations seen in most cycling shoes today. Sidi was founded by Dino Signori, who still works every day in the company’s factory in Montebelluna, Italy, (widely considered to be the footwear capital of the world) producing many of the new prototypes himself. This is the man cyclists have to thank for the first adjustable cleat position system, nylon soles, adjustable straps, ratcheting buckles—the list goes on. Let's just say that he knows his shoes. “It’s the intensity and passion of that man,” says Sidi America president Al Budris as to why Sidi has been on the forefront of innovation for its entire 50-year history.

All this innovation however, comes at a price. Most people know that Sidi shoes command quite the premium at the register, but before balking at the price, consider the fact that all Sidis are designed to have a service life of at least ten years. Easily the most user-serviceable shoes on the market, it isn't rare to see a pair well over a decade old and still in service (believe us, we’ve seen some relics). In fact, in 1999, Sidi was prompted to introduce its Sole Replacement System to address issues of the tread wearing out well before the rest of the shoe. Simply unscrew a few bolts, pop off the old tread sections, screw in the replacements and you're ready to go for another couple years.

Sole train. The Dragon 3 and the Spider both sport replaceable soles, while the Dominator does without in lieu of a lower price point.

So why doesn’t Sidi make a budget shoe you ask? Well, in response, Budris offers this analogy, “We didn’t want to be a Toyota and Lexus brand, we wanted to be a Porsche brand.”

Enough said. Along those lines, Signori doesn’t design shoes for the consumer, he designs them for racers and bases his designs almost exclusively on their constant feedback. Luckily for consumers however, unlike many other cycling products, what works well for racers in terms of their footwear, translates pretty favorably to the average consumer. It turns out everyone values perfect fit, comfort, and performance.

We recently got the rundown on Sidi's latest lineup, here’s the scoop:

Representing 50 years of research and development Sidi’s off-road lineup consists of the top-tier Dragon, the mid-level, cyclocross-oriented Spider, the foul-weather Diablo and their perennial bestseller, the Dominator.

Dragon 3 – $450 (msrp)

The Dragon 3 represents the zenith of Sidi design, featuring their resilient Lorica uppers (Yes, Sidi pioneered the use of Lorica as well), SRS replaceable sole, dual-density insoles and Sidi’s Techno II buckle. New for 2012 is an integrated toe guard and an updated heel-retention device.

Spider – $360 (msrp)

The Spider features Lorica uppers to help ward off the wetness of deep-winter cyclocross racing, and like the Dragon features a replaceable sole, though the Spider sports an integrated instep traction pad to help with remounts. The all-black model features a full-Lorica upper that is more water resistant than the mesh/Lorica white-colored model.

Dominator 5 – $259

The Dominator 5 has long been Sidi’s best-selling mountain offering, and despite the lower price, still manages to offer much of the performance of its upscale siblings. It features Sidi’s bar-setting Caliper Buckle and their globally-patented security Velcro featuring non-slip silicone teeth to enhance its hold. And, as part of Sidi’s devotion to providing the perfect fit, the Dominator 5 is available in 72 different sizes and widths.

Head-to-head comfort comparison.