If you’re a cyclist who rides any great distance, chances are you have a pair of shoes of which you’re particularly fond. Moulded, through mile after mile, to the precise contours of your feet. Their purpose is more than simple attachment of foot to pedal; the bond is an emotional one.
OK. Well, at the very least you understand that a decent pair of shoes is no small matter? That there are areas where compromise is unacceptable?
The padding of the shorts. The shape of the saddle. The comfort of the shoes. These things all fall into that category. And shoe manufacturers, like shorts and saddle manufacturers, will make all manner of claims. Largely about how much faster, and more comfortable, they’ll make you.
But consider this: if a pair of shoes can save you ten watts of power output through stiffness of sole, tightness of fastening, and lightness of upper, how much might they lose you, after three hours, by pinching your feet and laying waste to the integrity of your arches?
(And yes…I’m pretty sure that is technical chiropody terminology).
Buy the fast shoes by all means – absolutely – but don’t neglect that comfort is one of the technical aspects of shoe design that can make you faster. And happier. More pleasant to be around. Tolerable as a riding companion…that sort of thing.
All of which brings me to luxurious shoe makers Dromarti; they’ve been around since 2009 (Google them – every review is a belter!) and are currently undergoing a renaissance under the stewardship of a chap called Mark Shotter.
I was discussing the very topic of comfort and performance with Mark recently, and I quote:
“We’re not really into the performance related hype necessary to sell a new and improved product every six months, especially when the ‘improvements’ are only visible to marketing departments and unnoticeable to real world performance.”
Let’s be honest, the marketing blurb that Mark refers to does get tedious doesn’t it? The Dromarti approach is refreshing. But still, make no mistake, this does not mean Dromarti shoes don’t perform.
On the contrary:
“Our shoes have been worn by riders ranging from ultra-distance competitors to ex World Tour pro’s for whom the performance has been plentiful enough to keep them happy.”
But comfort and quality, I would suggest, are the pillars on which their reputation is built. They use things like real leather, and shoe laces. They build shoes to last.
“(It’s about) aesthetics and comfort,” says Mark, “tanned full-grain leather looks fantastic, is naturally resilient, breathable, thermally insulating, ductile and form holding. PU or microfibre just wouldn’t hold the same authenticity or allure.
A shoe which can mould to the shape of your foot and offer multiple adjustment points is going to provide greater potential for comfort – leather and laces (waxed to prevent slippage) are at an advantage here.”
Having said all this, new for the 2019 Dromarti production run come the Race Carbon. The introduction of carbon soles is a new thing. Mark, again:
“The change was really just a natural evolution. A carbon sole has become the expected norm on a high-end road shoe and there’s no denying that it looks great and adds a further sleekness to the design.”
So, take the comfort of a Dromarti shoe, add the stiffness of a carbon sole, and what do you get?
I’ve just taken delivery of a pair which are beautiful, feel great, fit well, and are genuinely lightweight; I was expecting – with the leather, the laces, and the heritage stylings – to find a slightly weighty shoe…not the case.
Quite frankly, I’m salivating at the thought of wearing them in.
Over the coming weeks I will tackle, in my Dromarti shoes, a couple of Italian Gran Fondos, and the Fred Whitton Challenge back here in the UK. From there, after all that punishment, I’m sure to have a definitive view.
Watch this space.
Top Image: road|THEORY.
Bottom Image: Dromarti