There is one guaranteed certainty when it comes to cyclocross, regardless of the weather - your feet will get filthy.
Not just a bit dusty, but full-on covered. If you’re lucky you won’t race on a field mined with cowpats, and if you’re luckier still it won’t have rained, but the simple fact is that the proximity of your feet to the ground puts them in the firing line.
So why would you get yourself a decent pair of shoes to race in? Imagine the horror of seeing those box-fresh carbon-soled numbers disappear beneath a pebbledash of filth.
Thing is, your cyclocross shoes are just as important as your road shoes when it comes to comfort, and considering you will spend a fair amount of your time running in them, maybe more so.
They need to fit perfectly, to grip your heels when you’re forced to dismount and leg it up a hill, be light enough to not even be noticeable and to be made of something that can be cleaned back up time and time again.
Sidi’s Drako MTB shoes have a carbon sole for lightness and are manufactured with a glossy plastic upper. They are fastened using the Boa tightening system, which is great when your hands are too cold to grip hold of anything and applies uniform tightening across the top of the foot. Rather than offering a selection of inserts and heel pads, the shoes also feature a multitude of tweakable aspects to ensure you get the best possible fit.
The heel cap, for instance, can be tightened to grip your heel securely, and there is a wide strap which adjusts across the top of the foot but helps distribute pressure over the instep.
Sidi are just as well known for their motorcycle boots and they have brought the knowledge they have gained in that area over to cycling shoes. This long and in-depth experience has helped develop areas other than pure comfort. Many parts of the shoe are replaceable, for instance. This is something you won’t find in the offerings of many competitors.
One thing you might think when you first set eyes on a pair of Sidi is that they don’t actually look very comfortable. When you first put them on you might think the same. These shoes seem to be possessed of the ability to be both well fitting and lacking in comfort at the same time. It’s hard to explain - there is plenty of padding, no rubbing thanks to the fine-tuneability of the shoe but at the same time you’re not going to fall in love with the fit, not immediately. It’s more of a utilitarian kind of feeling, that the shoes are doing exactly the job they were intended for, with no pain. A pair of slippers these are not.
But for good, hard, practicality, the Sidi Drako are a tough one to beat, especially with their rubberised toe caps and wipe-clean aesthetic. A couple of words of warning, however: these run small, so size up, and be careful where you’re snipping with the scissors when you’re de-tagging - cut through the Boa fastening cable and your shoes are screwed before you’ve even worn them.
Summary: An extremely lightweight, practical and utilitarian shoe with many replaceable parts and wipe-clean outer. The Boa fastening system is a joy to use and fine adjustments around the heel and across the top of the foot provide the perfect fit. Despite the fit and the padding, however, the shoes stop short of luxury.
4 / 5