Sidi Action SRS £144.99 and Sidi Dominator 2 £114.99
From: Blue Ridge 0208 9919244
Rain, sun, dirt, dust, dung and other generally debilitating shoe experiences around Yorkshire and the rest of the country for the past few months.
Sidi are another Continental cobbler with a superb reputation for cycling (and motorbike) footwear.
The Action (360g) and Dominator 2 (350g) are at the top end of their racing line and are focused on maximum power delivery and low weight.Sole
The soles of the shoes are superficially very similar with almost the same tread pattern and standard two slot SPD mounting. Pedal pressure is evenly spread, delivery is undiluted but there’s still enough flex for long rides with noticeable slight rotation between sole and upper. The treads are hard, deep but fast clearing which makes them great for mud, but watch yourself on slippery rock, especially with the stiff soles. As race shoes they’re OK for short foot sprints up unrideable hills (with screw in stud blanks ready for winter grip) and they don’t suffer from heel lift that plagues some shoes, but you won’t want to hike far.
The big sole difference is the SRS feature of the Action’s. This Sole Replacement System lets you unscrew and replace the tread pontoons for a long and happy shoe life. The Dominator 2 doesn’t get this feature but the treads seem to be holding out OK anyway.Upper
The uppers of both shoes are mostly Sidi’s own ‘Lorica’ synthetic leather (animal lovers take note: it’s all fake hide here) which is thin, supple but from experience massively durable. This makes for a lightweight shoe that slides onto your foot like a kid glove even from new. Be careful about trying them on in the shop if you can’t afford them, as nothing will seduce your socks like these.
The downside to this ‘stocking fit’ is that the thin supple leather leaves your feet vulnerable to toe stubbing or clouts from passing rocks / logs etc. but you’ll know whether that’s a real problem where/how you ride before you buy them.
Despite it’s lower price, the Dominator scores two very British points here. Firstly it’s available in a dedicated wide fitting for non Mediterranean feet (both shoes are available in half sizes for bespoke fitting) and secondly it’s got no mesh on it. Unfortunately there’s no sealing (in fact there are perforated holes and a scoop shaped base) around the tongue, so water sluices in easily but you don’t get unwanted air conditioning.
The Action gets two small mesh nostrils on top of the toe and mesh around the rear of the shoe, so you’ll be looking for a waterproof liner to provide protection.
Hard plastic heel cup, and tall padded Achilles cuff are common to both shoes and give a supportive and closed fit around the back of the shoe without troubling your tendons.Fixing
Now this is where the two shoes really differ and where extra spend comes from in the Action thanks to the most hi-tech shoe fastening we’ve seen yet. The upper ratchet fastener with it’s metal cam arm is easy to locate and smooth to tighten even when riding, but the twin release catch takes a bit more faffing, especially if it’s buried in mud. Still getting out of your shoes fast is rarely a priority (unless you get struck by that dreaded ‘end of ride incontinence’ – or is that just us).
The lower tensioners are the real novelty item though, using a capstan winch, with a flip up winding tab and a loop of fishing line around an anchor block on the far side. Yes all this nautical carry on can be yours on a shoe. Twice. Again it works well on the tightening side with enough pressure to turn your plates of meat into pate, as well as a more accurate notch by notch tension than Velcro straps, but loosening can be a real fight once you’ve got a bit of filth in there. Some people will undoubtedly love the “new toy” value of these fasteners and they do their tightening (if not loosening) job fine, but at the end of the day they’re not half as easy to use as simple Velcro straps and a whole lot more expensive.
It’s a relief to see simple Velcro straps on low and middle fastener points of the Dominator, but you still get a ratchet strap at the top. This mostly plastic cam fastener is a lot stiffer to crank up when new, but it becomes less stubborn with time and the single button release is quick and easy to use. The only downside was a pressure point under the outside buckle of the middle strap when cranked down hard.
It’s worth noting that though shoe fit is close, and fasteners can be cranked down super hard, the movement in the upper also makes them feel looser on the foot than ‘solid’ shoes like the Carnacs. Whether this is good or bad depends on personal taste, but it definitely contributes to the overall ‘Sidi experience’.Verdict:
Sidi shoes have their own unique feel that comes from the suppleness of the materials they use, but don’t got thinking they’re going to tear apart. Some will like this exposure, some won’t feel protected enough but that’s personal.
In summary the Action SRS is undoubtedly a fabulously fitting lightweight shoe packed with bells and whistles, and with everything replaceable in the event of old age the big initial price tag can be spread over a very long life.
The Dominator 2 has no mesh, wide fitting and price on it’s side as well as simpler fastenings – which many will see as a bonus – and as a result we’d definitely give this the nod as the best all round trail shoe of the pair.
If you can’t stretch to this price we’ve also been really impressed with the cheaper shoes in the Sidi range, which share many basic features and the same excellent construction quality.