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The Sidi Ergo 5 road shoes tick all the boxes the company's not inexpensive range generally does. They are stiff, made in Italy, and eschew any kind of focus on lightness in exchange for really solid construction and an extendable lifespan thanks to lots of replaceable parts. Some swear by the 'slipper-like' comfort of Sidi shoes, but I needed to go after these with some scissors before they were very comfortable for me. I'm really not a fan of Sidi's dial system, either.
The Ergo 5 isn't a brand new shoe, but this is the first time we've got our feet in some. Sidi has quite a wide range of shoes, ranging from the (ahem) upper mid-range to the seriously pricey. It's a well-established Italian brand with deep roots in the peloton (and favoured by Chris Froome, Egan Bernal, Adam Yates and Tao Geoghegan Hart, amongst many others).
At £299, these matt-finished Ergo 5s are cheaper than the pros' ones, but it's still a lot of cash for a pair of kicks (though you can sometimes find them at under half price if you hunt around).
In the all-black colour we tested, the Ergo 5 has a pretty classy look – you could almost believe they were still fashioned from leather. It's actually a PU microfibre called Microfibra Techpro. It feels substantial but supple – the Sidi way is definitely to make durable shoes rather than flyweight ones that need replacing after a year.
We weighed our (admittedly large at EU48) pair at over 750g, which is some way from the lighter end of the market. You'd probably not choose them for a hill-climb then, but it doesn't seem like a deal-breaker to the pros; Sidi's pro-level road shoes not the lightest either.
The shoes we have here are also available in red and a gorgeous matt orange. Sidi offers replacement parts for its shoes – so if you break a wire or wear out a heel pad, you can simply buy new ones and fit them yourself. Given the price of high-end road shoes, it's surprising how few other manufacturers do this (shout out to Bont, though).
The Ergo 5s are built on Sidi's Twelve Carbon Composite sole. Unlike a lot of shoe manufacturers, Sidi doesn't have its own stiffness scale, so don't misinterpret 'Twelve'. They are plenty stiff if that matters, and comparable to other high end road shoes.
The sole is "injected Carbon Fiber in a matrix of Nylon," which is a little confusing, given that the middle section appears to be woven carbon fibre. The surrounding black part looks like an injected composite; I did wonder if the centre was just a sticker, but it seems like the real deal. It could be said that at £299, there are others whose full woven carbon soles do look a bit flashier.
Another Sidi hallmark is the use of its own Techno-3 Push wire closure system, rather than the widely used Boa seen elsewhere. The principle is the same – it's a neat ratcheting wire spool which can get the shoes tighter than you would ever want them. The Ergo 5 has a couple of these dials, plus a Velcro strap at the front.
Unfortunately, both tightening and loosening are a faff with these dials. To tighten you press a tiny red button, a wing pops up across the top of the dial, and you turn that. To loosen, you have to squeeze together a couple of metal buttons either side of the dial, and pull the whole thing upwards. They are not handed either, so you have to do the opposite with your right hand to your left – unlike with Boa dials.
Frankly, the comparison with Boa does Sidi no favours at all. I'm used to being able to make fine adjustments while freewheeling even in winter gloves (and even through overshoes), but that is just not practical here.
Comfort is subjective, of course. I tend to get on well with Shimano and Scott shoes, and found the fit of these Sidis to be pretty good too. I'm a size 12, which would normally be a 47 in European sizing, but the received wisdom is to go up a size in Sidi, and these 48s were bang on for me. Got wider feet? Good news – Sidi makes a 'Mega Fit' version, even in half sizes. Mega Fit is a lot kinder than 'Fat Foot,' too...
At first these were generally pretty comfortable, with a good amount of cushioning under the tongue and around the opening. The one place they weren't comfortable was at the top of the tongue. Ironically, the Soft Instep Closure System – the strap across the top with the big Sidi logo on it – jammed the top of the tongue into my foot.
Some Sidi tongues have open slots at the top, to conform to the shape of the foot, while others are simply slit lower down and not as far as the edge. I found that unless I had the wires set completely loose, this top edge dug into my foot and was pretty uncomfortable. This was the case at the start of every ride – after a while I stopped noticing it, but it would be there again at the start of the next ride.
In the end, I got some scissors and snipped these slits open at the top end – an immediate improvement.
The Velcro strap is a little unusual too. Hidden underneath are two sets of serrated teeth, which really lock it into position. Given how little tension I usually require on the bottom strap of a cycling shoe, it seems like a solution in search of a problem to me.
After my DIY efforts, I found these shoes comfortable and easy to live with. The lack of mesh does mean they won't be the coolest in the summer, but it also makes them very easy to clean.
Unfortunately, these aren't an entirely convincing proposition. At this price you expect perfection, or something very close to it, but these fall a little short. For similar money, I'd look at competition such as Scott's RC Ultimates (now £319.99), the Rapha Pro Team shoes at £260, the Quoc Mono IIs at £270 or the Shimano S-Phyre RC9s at £319. All of these scored 9/10.
These are nicely made and should last for ages, but at this price you can also reasonably expect a best-in-class closure system and flawless comfort – and ideally a couple of hundred grams less. Although I've scored these shoes highly across several categories, overall I definitely feel there are better options elsewhere.
Idiosyncratic Italian kicks that aren't light, aren't entirely comfortable out of the box and don't have the best dials
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sidi Ergo 5 Road Shoes
Size tested: 48
Tell us what the product is for
Sidi says: "The Sidi Ergo 5 Road Shoe combining great comfort and classy good looks, Techno 3-push fastening and light and stiff carbon fibre soles make this is a road shoe ideal for racers or long distance cyclists."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
MICROFIBRE TECHPRO Matt
TWELVE CARBON COMPOSITE SOLE
SOFT INSTEP CLOSURE SYSTEM 4
TECNO-3 PUSH SYSTEM
HIGH SECURITY VELCRO
SIDI HEEL CUP
REPLACEABLE HEEL PAD
Sidi makes its shoes in Italy and does a lovely job - finish and overall quality is high here.
These are stiff shoes, thanks to the Twelve Carbon sole, and power transfer is pretty effective.
Designed to allow parts which can wear or fail to be replaced, including the Techno-3 wire closure system, the heel pad and more. It's nice to know you can extend their life like this.
I have average-width feet and the standard shoe fits me well. For those with wider feet, Sidi offers its Mega Fit sizing.
They size up slightly small - going up one size worked perfectly for me.
There are notably lighter cycling shoes, so if that is a factor you'll want to look elsewhere.
The tongue dug into the top of my foot.
I really don't think these represent good value for money unless you really prize the 'made in Italy' cachet. There are some amazing shoes available for the same money and - more to the point - you can get really good shoes for half this price.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to wipe clean.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Generally okay, although various niggles which I wouldn't expect at this price.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
They're stiff, mostly comfortable and easy to keep clean.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The tongue dug into my foot, and I think that Sidi's dials are inferior in almost every way to widely-used competition.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
An RRP of £300 sets these shoes against high-end opposition from all the big brands. Most are lighter than these and most use the superior Boa dial system. Few, if it matters to you, will be made in Italy, however.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, once I'd wielded the scissors, although the dials annoyed me
Would you consider buying the product? Unlikely - for this money I'd want something close to perfection and these are not that
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Doubtful
Use this box to explain your overall score
They are nicely made and should last for ages. Those are good things at this price, but you can also reasonably expect a best-in-class closure system and flawless comfort – and ideally a couple of hundred grams less. Although I've scored these shoes highly across several categories, overall I definitely feel there are better options at this price.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.