cycling kit

SIDI, Shimano, or Internet Bargain?

When it comes to cycling shoes, I have a blind spot. 

What I should do is go to my trusty bike shop, try a few pairs on, get some good solid advice, and spend whatever amount is required (£120, £150, £180?) to buy the right shoes. What I actually do is scour the internet in search of a bargain, buy shoes which are neither the best quality nor the best fit, and find myself nurturing a nagging feeling that they are not really the shoes I want (the shoes I want, of course, are SIDI’s).

Rather than admit this to myself, when the chosen shoes arrive I try them on, give them a quick test ride, and convince myself they’re just the job (even though I have my doubts about their quality, size and colour scheme); after all, they were a bargain.

Before long I realise these new recruits are not going to cut the mustard and box them away, out of sight, where they silently taunt me. Having wasted money on these impostors I am now even less inclined to splash out on the shoes I really want, and so the cycle goes on.

SIDI Shoes (Image: gordonr - Flickr CC)
SIDI Shoes
(Image: gordonr – Flickr CC)


“You get what you pay for”

In every other area of my life I have learnt that certain phrases become well-worn clichés for a reason: because they’re the solid gold truth, whittled down through trial and error. For some reason, when contemplating buying cycling shoes, that nugget of common sense goes flying out the window as I take leave of my years of accumulated knowledge.

No matter how much I convince myself that those bargain shoes are just the job, they are not just the job. They are a pale imitation of the shoes I want (which are the SIDI’s…did I mention those?).

So why not bite the bullet and buy the SIDI’s?

I currently have a solution, which I know is only delaying the inevitable SIDI purchase, and which costs no more than a simple modification to my state of mind: I have decided to love what I’ve got.

What I’ve got is a pair of fairly average Shimano shoes which are not the lightest, and certainly not the stiffest, which I’ve been wearing on and off for around 7 years. I’ve also got two or three pairs of bargain internet replacements which failed to make the cut, but I try not to think about those.

To help me to love the old faithful Shimano’s I’ve taken to cleaning and polishing them after every ride. Not just a quick once over with a damp rag, I’m talking a military style operation which involves elbow grease and good old fashioned shoe polish, and results in the kind of mirrored shine last seen on the forehead of a bald seventies soul singer. 

I’ve stopped short of marching around the yard on parade while the wife gives them the once over and barks orders at me, but apart from that, we’re talking military precision. 

I’ve also taken to reminiscing about all the mileage me and those terminally average shoes have clocked up together. Through sunny summer days and wet winter evenings, up Alpine cols and Cumbrian fells, I reckon we’re nudging close to 10,000 miles together; if I were the type to get sentimental about simple possessions (which I’m not), I would say that the least those old shoes deserve is a bit of love and attention.

Apart from anything, if I can manage to cultivate some kind of attachment to the poor half-worn things than maybe I can convince myself that I’m still with them through choice.

Problem is, there’s a nagging feeling that although I’m no racer, and have no real need for kit which offers marginal gains in performance, I can’t help feeling that they’re holding me back. They’re still a better option than the two or three pairs of aborted replacements which languish in a box under the bed (which we don’t talk about), but they’re not SIDI’s (did I mention those?). 

So, until I bite the bullet and buy the SIDI’s, I’ll just keep polishing the old faithful Shimano’s and reminisce about all those happy miles we’ve spent together.

Here’s to another 10,000.


11 comments on “SIDI, Shimano, or Internet Bargain?

  1. Ah the joys of bike kit lust!


    • Indeed. My kit lust shows no sign of letting up just yet. Once I’ve got the SIDI’s i’ll just move on and obsess about something else!


  2. Actually, if you know the shop owner, you can get a really good deal that way too… I got a pair of Specialized Pro Road shoes ($275 retail) for $125. They were 2012’s but they’re 11 on the stiffness scale and they’re amazingly comfortable. They’re not Sidi’s but they’re fine shoes for sure.

    Now, I won a pair of PI Tri Fly III’s that came in a size bigger than advertised so I wore them anyway… Big, big mistake. Now that I’ve got a properly sized pair of shoes, it’s amazing that I could ride like I did in those boats.


    • It’s always the same with kit. Until you acquire a thing (e.g. well fitting shoes), you never realise quite how much you needed them.


      • That is accurate beyond words.

        In fact, I was out with the wife for an easy 25 just a couple of weeks ago in my old shoes (chance of rain) and I couldn’t believe how sloppy they felt. It was ridiculous.


  3. Ragtime – SIDIs really are the best. My twist: I have a pair of SIDIs that I’ve probably taken 20,000 miles and are worn out. I won’t part with them, even though I need a new pair because I haven’t yet found a deal on… SIDIs. Cheers, Steve


  4. Chikashi

    Flog on fleabay the pairs sitting under your bed, put the proceeds in the Sidi kitty, add a few more gold coins if required, and buy the bloody Sidis! Well, actually, you do not mention whether you have tried on the Sidis to see if they actually are a good fit for your feet… If they are a good fit, then get the Sidis!


    • You’re quite right – if I’d spent as much time working on a SIDI kitty as I have on writing blog posts about it I’d be half way there by now.

      I’m on it!


  5. I have just upgraded to SIDIs and remembered this post, it was the one which convinced me I needed SIDIs, I could not mismatch my bike and motorbike shoes of course, and while I have not used then yet I feel quicker just standing in them. Actually looking at my old Shimanos, henceforth known as those winter shoes, they look too pretty to cycle in, maybe I should just mount them on the wall to admire and keep using the Shimanos, I should be able to get enough miles out of them until I can buy a second pair of SIDIs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you remembered my post – i’m sure you won’t regret splashing out on the SIDI’s. When I wrote that post i was still trying to save money and bag a bargain, but I now just pay good money for SIDI’s and there’s no looking back. Once you have the winter SIDI’s too, the circle is complete!


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