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Sidi Drako shoes: World class on a weight-loss program

  • By Michael Robson
  • Published Oct. 16, 2013
  • Updated Oct. 16, 2013 at 2:39 PM EDT

To say that Sidi knows shoes would be to engage in the gravest understatement. Dino Signori founded Sidi in 1960 making mountaineering boots, eventually branching into motorcycle footwear and cycling shoes. Sidi’s reputation rides high on a history of outstanding quality, brilliant innovation, and winning, which has spanned decades and is still going strong. When I first got into road cycling one of my first sets of shoes were Sidi. I have had many pairs since, including Dragons 2 and 3, so when a pair of Drakos arrived for testing I was excited to get my feet in them.

The Drakos take most of their design cues from the Sidi Wire road shoe. In fact, the uppers are pretty much the same, but the sole has been adapted to accept Sidi’s removable and replaceable SRS sole treads. Gone is the carbon sole insert used in the Dragon in favor of a full carbon sole; gone also are the three different closures, replaced by two light and simple Techno 3 buckles; and gone are well over 100 grams (by my scale I got more than 150 grams difference). The shoes are noticeably lighter when riding and racing, especially when running, and at 380 grams (size 45) per shoe they are right in the range of the lightest mountain shoes out there.

So how do they ride? Well, they’re stiff for sure. Some might say too stiff but I like it. As a mountain bike shoe the Drakos are not perfectly suited to ’cross, particularly running, but they hold their own and then some. My trick with Sidi shoes is to have the heel retention system opened up and not to have my shoes too tight so my heels can move up and down a little. The tread blocks are smaller than on the Dragons and there is no grip pad between the cleat and the heel, something I would like to see included.

Sidi invented the monofilament line closure in the mid 60’s, trumping the BOA system by decades, and it shows. The Techno 3 buckles are tough, reliable and durable, and you can make one-click adjustments in either direction. Don’t go calling it a BOA in earshot of a Sidi aficionado though; you’ll be promptly corrected and likely given a history lesson to boot.

Other nice touches are the near-bulletproof toe guards and replaceable integrated cleat wear plates. Carried over from the Dragon is the adjustable instep closure, but the insoles have been revamped, shaving weight and adding comfort. I found the Drakos to be very comfortable with an excellent footbed design.

One thing of note: The durability of the Technomicro Vernice finish is pretty remarkable. I crashed (a very rare occurrence) in a race on super nasty, rough, scratchy gravel and aside from a tiny bit of scuffing on the Techno buckle, there was no damage to the shoe. My body didn’t fare nearly as well.

As usual, quality like this isn’t cheap — the recommended price of $450 is a bit of a shock. But if you take into consideration the level of performance, how long Sidi shoes last, replaceable treads, and how many miles you will get out of them, they will probably end up being a pretty good bang for your buck.

I tested the now discontinued florescent yellow Drakos that have been replaced by the super classy Black and White Vernice. If that’s not quite your style they come in a more understated black version, but I have to admit the Black and White with the world championship colors is a lot more fun. All the new colors are available now, and Sidi’s handy dealer locator can show you exactly where to pick some up.

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