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Sidi 2011 Dominator 5 Mesh Men’s Mountain Bike Shoes

Like every Sidi cycling shoe I’ve ever bought, the Sidi Dominator 5 Mountain Bike Shoe is both a work of art and a superb shoe. This shoe offers true Italian craftsmanship and you can see it in every stitch. When you read most reviews for cycling shoes you will find a lot of talk about the “break-in time.” In my opinion the Sidi Dominator 5 does not have a break-in period—it is perfect straight out of the box. I have not experienced any hot spots or pressures points in this shoe at all.

Sidi 2011 Dominator 5 Mesh Men's Mountain Bike Shoes

Sidi 2011 Dominator 5 Mountain Bike Shoes

The upper on this shoe is made of a soft, breathable, hand-stitched Lorica synthetic leather microfiber that will keep your feet nice and cool due to its cooling mesh inserts (you will need a pair of toe covers in cool weather). Lorica is an incredibly strong, yet soft, material that stands up well to the abuse it takes on off-road trails and many hours spent riding in the rain.

This shoe has three closing straps. At the top there is a soft arch compression strap with an Ultra SL buckle that you can easily adjust as you ride. In addition, there are two high security Velcro straps that stay in place regardless of circumstances. This shoe is compatible with a variety of cleat and pedal combinations. I have used both SPD and Crank Brothers Egg Beater cleats on this shoe without any problem.

Sidi 2011 Dominator 5 Mesh Men's Mountain Bike Shoes

Sidi Dominator 5 Mountain Bike Shoes

Sidi offers this shoe in an amazing variety of sizes. Standard sizes go from 38–52 (EU), with half-sizes from 38.5 to 46.5. Mega (wide) width shoes go from 40–52, with half-sizes from 40.5 to 46.5. Narrow widths from 40–50 are also available, with half-sizes from 40.5 to 46.5. If you have wide feet these are the shoes for you! The Mega (wide) shoes are very comfortable and have a very wide toe box. I have found these shoes to be true to size.

My only complaint about this shoe is that toe spikes (mud studs) were not included in the box. Toe spikes are available, but they are going to cost you another $15. I like riding with toe spikes even when the trails are dry—the spikes can really take a beating and then be replaced a few years later at very little cost.

The Sidi Dominator 5 Mountain Bike Shoes are not cheap—the retail price is $260, but you can usually find them online for around $230. If you are on a tight budget you might want to consider the Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe.

 

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Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover

The Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover allows you to wear your summer cycling shoes in temperatures well below freezing. Cleat openings on the bottom of the cover make it compatible with most pedal systems used in both road and MTB shoes (I’ve used these covers with Look Keo, Shimano SPD and Crank Brothers Egg Beater cleats).

Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover

Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover

I used these covers on at least 20 rides last year that were longer than three hours each and they kept my feet warm down to around 20 degrees. I need to mention that this protection was provided with the aid of some nice wool cycling socks and Grabber Toe Warmers Heating Packs (these disposable warmers cost about a dollar a pair and are available on Amazon.com and at most sporting goods stores).

Garneau’s Website claims this cover “protects your feet from the wet and extremely cold temperatures,” and this mostly true. You should not have any trouble wearing these covers in snow or light rain, but they are not waterproof—your feet will get wet in a heavy rain. These covers also give great protection from the wind.

This shoe cover is made from 3-mm neoprene and closes in the back with a thick strip of Velcro. There are several shoe covers on the market that close with a zipper and I have not had much success with any of them. The reflective logos on this shoe cover add some visibility, but because of their position on the top of the cover I don’t think this is much of a selling point.

The Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover is available in four sizes: Small (39-41), Medium (41.5-43), Large (43.5-45), XL (45.5-50). The sizing on these covers is good, but I would recommend you buy a size larger than you normally wear so you can get them on easier. This product retails for $20 and is certainly worth the price.

 

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Louis Garneau Wind Dry SL Shoe Cover

During the first few weeks of fall you can ride with just toe covers over your cycling shoes (I prefer the Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers). However, as the temperature drops a bit your next line of defense is going to be a lightweight shoe cover that will not only protect your toes but your ankles as well.

Louis Garneau Wind Dry SL Shoe Cover

Louis Garneau Wind Dry SL Shoe Cover

The Louis Garneau Wind Dry SL Shoe Cover is not only windproof and very breathable. This product is made with laminated Lycra and fleece on the inside with a WindDry fabric on the outside. These covers are not waterproof (though some advertisements make that claim), but I have found them to be fairly warm in temperatures down to around 35 degrees. The back of the cover closes with a sturdy strip of Velcro and there is a Velcro fastener under the sole the works well at keeping the cover in place.

I used this cover on my road shoes last year and was very happy with it. Reinforced cleat openings on the bottom of this cover make it compatible with most pedal systems (I use Look Keo cleats). There are also lug openings in case you want to use this cover on your MTB shoes. You will also find a decent amount of reflective tape and logos that should help motorists see you easier.

This is a decent shoe cover and I really don’t have any complaints against it. However, it is not intended to replace winter cycling boots, or even heavyweight thermal shoe covers. There are several good lightweight shoe covers available and I think most people would be happy with this one.

The Louis Garneau Wind Dry SL Shoe Cover retails for around $35 and is available in four sizes: X-Small (36-38), Small (39-41), Medium (41.5-43), Large (43.5-45), and XL (45.5-50).

 

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Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe

The Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe, while not in the same class as a Sidi Dominator, is an excellent MTB shoe. This shoe has a 100% carbon sole, full-grain leather upper and a non-slip rubber tread with mud studs (included). At only 365 grams this is an incredibly lightweight shoe and the carbon sole dampens vibrations from the trail.

Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe

Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe

If you ride off-road trails you are going to appreciate the rubber tread and the mud studs—they provide amazing traction for those times you have to get off the bike. And when you do get off the bike you will find this shoe is very easy to walk in as well. This shoe has two pre-drilled holes for SPD cleats. I am using Crank Brothers Egg Beater cleats and they work well with this shoe. The shoe closes with three hook ‘n loop straps and has a very secure fit. Mesh inserts in the upper make this shoe very breathable.

As for size, these shoes are available in sizes 39 through 48 (European), and they seem to be true to size. They are also available in wide widths. I bought the wide width shoes (MX235C-X) and they have the widest toe box I’ve found in any cycling shoe. In fact, there is enough room for thick socks, which I need for about half of the year (I live north of Chicago).

Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe

Mesh drainage hole

One of the greatest features of this shoe, and one I’ve not seen anyone else mention, is the mesh drainage hole in the sole of the shoe (like in the shoes triathletes wear). This mesh hole is located under your heel, but is covered by the sole insert. You might not need this feature, but if you ever get caught in a thunderstorm or heavy downpour you will appreciate how this little device helps drain water out of your shoes! I got caught in one downpour this summer and for over an hour my road shoes were filled with water on my way home (not a pleasant feeling).

The Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe has a list price of $190, but I was able to buy a pair from Nashbar.com on sale for $90. At the sale price this shoe has to be one of the best buys you will ever find for a MTB shoe.

As I said in an earlier product review for another Lake shoe, the only downside to this shoe is Lake Cycling itself. I don’t know of a single manufacturer or distributor of cycling products that has a worse reputation for customer service than Lake Cycling. The shoes they sell are fine, but if you ever need help from Lake Cycling you are out of luck. Their Web site has absolutely no contact information on it at all!

 
 

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Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

Toe warmers are intended to allow you to ride in cool weather with your summer cycling shoes. I own at least a dozen pair of toe warmers for my cycling shoes—some good, some bad, some worthless. A few weeks ago I ordered a pair of Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers from Amazon.com. As I opened the package the room I was in grew brighter, a choir of angels started singing the Hallelujah chorus, and all seemed right in the world. OK, that might have been a bit of hyperbole, but this is not: this is the best designed pair of shoe covers I have ever seen!

Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

What makes the Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers so great? Well, they started with a windproof fabric on the outside coupled with a microfleece lining on the inside. By itself, this is nothing special—nearly every brand of toe covers has a similar fabric. What makes these toe covers stand out is the elastic heel strap that keeps these covers in place. Most toe covers are held in place by an elastic band around the end of the cover. Most elastic bands suffer form one of two problems: either they are so tight you can’t get them over your shoe or they are so loose they won’t stay on. The heel strap on the Dasher allows the cover to easily slide onto your shoe and then keeps it in place as you ride.

The bottom of the Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers have cut-out guides for both SPD and road cleats (I use Look Keo cleats). If you own both type of cleats you could use the larger road cleat cut-out area for both pair of shoes. However, I would suggest you just buy another pair of the Dasher toe covers because the larger cut-out area for the road cleats leaves very little of the bottom of the cover left. When you cut out the area for an SPD cleat you will have a lot of the thick bottom part of the Dasher covering the treads of your MTB shoes—the material on the bottom of the Dasher is thick enough so that this will not be a problem. Some toe covers are so thin that the bottom side of the cover wears out with just a few weeks of use.

Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

The Planet Bike Dasher has cut-outs for both SPD and road cleats

As an added benefit the Dasher has reflective side and back logos. The reflective logo on the back of the heels actually does a good job of making your presence known to motorists. Since your feet (and therefore the reflective logos) are moving up and down as you ride it is more noticeable than the same size logo would be on a jacket or jersey.

Planet Bike offers these toe covers in five different sizes (most companies offer only two). The small cover will fit a man’s size 6.5 shoe (40 European) and the XXL will fit a man’s 12.5 shoe (47 European). Planet Bike has a size chart available on their Web site if you are not sure what size you need.

The Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers retail for $27. When the weather gets too cold for just a toe cover I would suggest you purchase the Planet Bike Comet Full Neoprene Shoe Covers or the Planet Bike Blitzen Windproof Shoe Cover.

 

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Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots

There comes a time in late fall or early winter when even the best shoe covers just won’t keep your feet warm. When you reach this point you have to either purchase a pair of winter cycling boots or just hang your bike up for the duration. A couple of months off the bike will probably cause you to gain a few pounds and it will definitely take you a while in the spring to “get your legs back.” Seeing that you really do need a pair of winter cycling boots, I would suggest a pair of Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots.

Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots

Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots

Lake Cycling is well-known for their moderately priced cycling shoes, and their MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boot is a fantastic product for those of us who have never outgrown playing in the snow! I bought a pair of these boots two winters ago and it was one of the best cycling purchases I’ve ever made. This boot has a full leather upper coupled with a Vibram rubber sole that makes walking on snow and ice an easy task, and a 3M Thinsulate lining in toe box to keep you warm. Neoprene cuffs and the 2-piece lace overflap seals the shoes incredibly well—I’ve never had snow or rain get inside these shoes while cycling. The side mounted Push/Pull BOA Closure lacing system keeps these shoes at exactly the right tension while on your feet.

The shoes come with a set of spikes (lugs) and a small wrench so you can easily attach the spikes to the front of the sole. You really should install the spikes—you will really appreciate the extra traction they will give you on the ice. I would recommend that you apply a few drops of an anti-seize compound on the threads of the spikes and your cleats before installation. The anti-seize compound will make the spikes and cleats a lot easier to remove after they have spent the winter in snow, ice and road salt. These shoes are SPD compatible.

I don’t have a complaint against these winter boots, but I do wish they were a bit lighter. However, when you are cycling thru several inches of snow and the temperature is around zero you probably won’t be thinking about the extra weight! I’ve cycled over 2,000 miles with these shoes during all sorts of snow and ice storms and my feet have never felt cold.

These shoes are available in men’s sizes 36-50 (whole sizes only) and men’s wide EE 39-50 (whole sizes only). I have wide feet and these shoes fit me perfectly. As you probably know, you need to order a winter cycling shoe in at least a half-size larger than you normally wear so you will have room for thicker winter socks.

The bad news is that these shoes are not cheap! The retail cost is around $300 a pair, but you can sometimes find them online for around $230. I know the price is high, but have you ever considered how expensive a case of frostbite might be?

The only downside to this shoe is Lake Cycling itself. I don’t know of a single manufacturer or distributor of cycling products that has a worse reputation for customer service than Lake Cycling. The shoes they sell are fine, but if you ever need help from Lake Cycling you are out of luck. Getting a phone number or email address for this company is harder than getting the home number for the director of the CIA. Their Web site has absolutely no contact information on it at all!

 

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Sidi 2011 Genius 6.6 Carbon Lite Mega Road Cycling Shoes

One of the most popular articles on this blog has been my review of the Lake CX165 Wide Road Shoes. For cyclists with wide feet the Lake CX165 is one of the few wide road shoes available. If your average ride is fairly short or if you are on a tight budget then the Lake CX165 will work out fine for you. However, if you spend a lot of time on your bike (and can afford it) the Sidi Genius 6.6 Carbon Lite Mega Road Shoe will rock your world!

Sidi 2011 Genius 6.6 Carbon Lite Mega Road Cycling Shoes

Sidi Genius 6.6 Carbon Lite Mega Road Cycling Shoes

For the past few years I’ve ridden with the Sidi Genius 5 Pro Carbon Mega road shoe. Unfortunately, the heel cushion on these shoes wore out and made them unwearable. When it came time to buy another pair of road shoes I didn’t hesitate for a moment to order another pair from Sidi. I don’t even know where to begin extolling the virtues of the Sidi Genius 6.6. This shoe is incredibly well-made and is truly a thing of beauty.

Unlike most cycling shoes, none of the Sidi shoes I’ve owned have required a “break-in” period—they fit perfectly from the very first moment I tried them on. The Sidi Genius 6.6 is both lighter and stiffer than the Sidi Genius 5 Pro I used to wear. The sole on the Genius 6.6 is handmade from sheets of T700 carbon fiber. While this material is unbelievably stiff, it is also very lightweight. Lighter shoes mean that less effort is required when you pedal and this makes a big difference on long rides. The stiffer sole on the Genius 6.6 means that more power is transferred to the pedal than with typical cycling shoes.

The upper on the Genius 6.6 is made from Lorica microfiber and I have found this material to be extremely breathable. Lorica is a synthetic leather that is water-repellent, breathable and quick drying. Even on days when the heat index was over 110 degrees I never felt like my feet were overheating. The shoes also have excellent cooling mesh panels to provide additional ventilation. The shoe closes with three straps (two high security Velcro straps and one caliper buckle). The caliper buckle on the top is so easy to adjust that you can change the tension as you are riding without any problems.

Sidi 2011 Genius 6.6 Carbon Lite Mega Road Cycling Shoes

Sole of the Sidi Genius 6.6

My only complaint with the older Genius 5 Pro was that the front of the sole got scuffed up a lot because the shoe did not have any protection there except for the carbon fiber sole. The new Genius 6.6 has a red pad at the front of the sole and this is a great addition. The abuse at this end of the shoe comes from having to take your foot off the pedal at stoplights and then resting the tip of the shoe on the pavement. In case you are wondering, I actually do stop at stoplights (most of the time).

I have used Look Keo 2 Max pedals and cleats for several years on my main road bike and the Sidi road shoes have worked very well with them. I know they also work with many other pedal and cleat combinations, but I have not tested them myself. In the area where you attach the cleats on this shoe you will find a printed alignment guide which makes getting your cleats in the same spot on both shoes a snap.

When I first got my new Sidi Genius 6.6 road shoes I decided to try them out on a short 30 mile ride. Unfortunately, when I was 15 miles away from home I got caught in the worst thunderstorm I’ve ever ridden in. For nearly an hour my new shoes were filled with water (not a great feeling). I ride a lot in the rain, but I had never been in anything like this before. All the way home I was thinking that the new shoes would be ruined. Incredibly, once the shoes dried out I put them on again and they still felt great!

The Sidi Genius 6.6 road shoe is available in standard sizes (and half-sizes) from 39.5 to 46.5. It is also available in wide (Mega) sizes (and half sizes) from 40.5 to 46.5. This shoe is available is several color combinations in the standard sizes, but it is only available in the Black w/ Yellow in the Mega sizes.

The Sidi Genius 6.6 road shoe was designed for the high-mileage cyclist. It doesn’t surprise me a bit that in 2010 the winner of both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia was wearing these shoes. The only downside to this wonderful road shoe is the price—it retails for $400, but you can probably find it for around $330 if you shop around online. Is the Sidi 6.6 worth the price? Yes, but only if you are a high-mileage cyclist. If your typical ride is under 30 miles then you would be just as well served with a lower priced road shoe.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2011 in Cycling Footwear, Product Reviews

 

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