I have always been a fan of Sidi mountain bike shoes, I bought a pair of the original SPD compatible “Sidi Challenges” when SPuDs first saw the light of day, and many of my mates used their excellent Cyclo-cross shoes for MTBing way before then. These Sidi Dominators 3’s are my fourth pair of Sidis, having previously owned the aforementioned Challenges, a pair of Dominator 2’s and a pair of Fires. The reason for such brand loyalty, is that almost uniquely among race shoes, Dominators and Fires contain no mesh panels what-so-ever, making them ideal for British conditions. Also the artificial leather that Sidi use, called Lorica, is as tough as the proverbial old boots, and with two layers of this over most wear points these shoes can be seriously abused. I have almost never raced a mountain bike, but use these ‘racing’ shoes for all of my epics and multi-day tours, including big push/carry routes such as Skiddaw, Helvellyn and Snowdon, without a second thought. They seem to last me about 3 years, after which the insole goes mushy and breaks up, but a friend of mine got 7 years from a pair Dominators, with 4000 miles a year of mixed on-and-off road use.
I bought these new Dom 3’s about a month ago for #80 from the excellent Chain Reaction cycles in Northern Ireland (see ads in mags, P.S. ordered at 3.15pm, arrived in Sheffield half past eight next morning!!), they have since been up High Street, as well as a three day tour in the Pennines. The Dom 3’s differ from previous model in that they have a new forefoot closure system (imaginatively titled “new closure system”!!), instead of the “chunky velcro” of the Dom 2’s or the “Techno” buckle of the Fires. The new closure is much simpler and more reliable that the Techno buckle, which often need persuasion to release, but are unfortunately not adjustable while on the move. I seems to be slight overkill to have two closure straps plus a ratchet buckle per shoe, but this certainly leads to a snug and reliable closure.
The main ratchet buckle has also been reworked and improved. The main lever is now aluminium, and can’t be flipped up accidentally while walking over rough terrain. The clicks are also closer together, and there are less moving parts in the ratchet to clog or break. Having never actually broken any Sidi closure system (although some have jammed) there is no need to worry about reliability and spares.
The major (and welcome) surprise with the new Doms, however is with the fit. The forefoot is now much wider than before, giving toes precious ‘wiggle space’ and improving comfort immeasurably. Other unexpected concessions to comfort include a thinly padded tongue and a removable footbed. Removing the footbed in winter should give a little extra volume to fit in those Porelle socks, without offsetting everything by cutting off the circulation.
The sole on the Dom 3’s is unfortunately the same plastic sole as the Fires, not the previous softer rubber sole of earlier Doms. The lug pattern is good and open, but the grip is not as good as before, but no worse than any other race shoe. The midsole stiffness is ideal for allround use, not quite as super-stiff as the new generation of racing shoes, such as the new carbon soled Shimanos, but good enough to isolate the foot from the feel of small SPD pedals.
Is there any problem with the Sidis? It is a shame that they don’t incorporate a plastic toe bumper, similar to the plastic heel cup, to stop toes being stubbed by flying rocks. They are also becoming increasingly difficult to find in the shops, I had to get mine mail order, but your local roadie shop is another possibility.