Monday, 14 June 2010

Stuff in the Spotlight, no. 1, part II: Dromarti Race Shoes

There's always a bit of apprehension before a race, even, or perhaps especially, if it's something as unknown as the inaugural Rapha Gentleman's Time Trial, which took place on Sunday. Into this space enters a certain amount of badinage.

This is not scientifically verifiable, but I calculate that around 60% of all the conversations revolved around my footwear. While fellow team mates in the Tweed Run team teased Simon Mottram of Rapha for that company's lack of a footwear line, there I was, wearing what can only be described as a beautiful pair of handmade leather Italian shoes. With cleats. Treacle and honeyed in tones, slim, with fine, and perfectly-lengthed leather laces, and stitched to perfection, the shoes (Dromarti Race shoes) were just the ticket.

If you want a perfect-looking, vintage styled pair of cycling shoes, then, quite simply, look no further. If you are concerned about comfort and performance, then read on.

Rapha Gentleman's Team Time Trial - Tweed Run Team

Fit: these are Italian. So they are slim (but not too slim). But as they are leather, they should stretch a little. I wear 45 in Sidis. These were 45, and perhaps a little longer.

Fit technology: laces. They've been around for a while, and pretty hard to improve on: light and adjustable. Not so long that they will get caught up anything, and with a nice 'give' in them, so when you tie them, they stay tied. Lots of holes, rather like climbing shoes, so you can tighten and loosen for the perfect fit.

Comfort: the pinch point, as it were. A lot of thought and skill seems to have gone into the heel area, somewhere that I often have a problem (mine are thin and bony). No slippage at all on climbs, and an appropriate level of padding. The uppers are essentially perfect. Right from the start they felt like a glove, and ten hours later, and the best part of ninety miles (there's a long story about why we took so long and didn't finish), they were still comfortable. It was a hot day. I was wearing woollen socks, but they remained cool and comfortable, thanks to leather's innate properties and a judicious amount of ventilation holes.

Sole: It looks like a composite or plastic sole, but there is some carbon in there as well. These are very stiff; there's a small amount of give by the toes, but not quite as much as the Sidi carbon sole. As a result, I got a bit of a tingle in my toes when climbing. Perhaps a few more hours would break them in, but they are certainly soles you could race in, should you wish. The soles also look pretty good, with a good set of cleat points (Look, SPD-SL, toe cleats), and no carbon 'weave', which would be out of aesthetic place.

Practicality: There are bumpers front and rear on the soles, there's a hatched patterns as well, and are well-balanced to walk on with cleats, as much as one can be on cleats. There are also 'normal' soles and SPD versions available, for all-day, all situations wearing (Sportivo, Storica). They weigh a little more than a pair of Sidis, but the beauty of leather has to be paid for somehow. Construction is very fine, with excellent stitching, and excellent leather - they looks like they should last as long as your knees will.

Faults: I've thought of one, after much head scratching - the tongue folds over slightly in a slightly irritating fashion. This is about it, as long as you are happy with a stiff sole.

In sum: if you're feeling retro, and Trois Vs often does, then it's hard to think how these could be beaten. These certainly deserve the Trois Vs assured nod of approval.

Available from £139.99/$164.22/195.39 Euros.

Our faithful US readership will note that Dromarti ships internationally.

Sounds like Ryan Adams has some new records coming out soon, so here's a kinda-linked in song by Mrs. A, here covered by Slick Shoes.

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