Thursday, February 27, 2014

Classic Cycling Shoes

Some time back, I had a post about traditional toe-clip and strap pedals, and recently I was asked by a reader about what shoes I use with those pedals. Unfortunately, none of the shoes I ride in are available anymore through regular channels, making it really difficult for recommendations. But through the magic of eBay, one might be able to find similar if they're watchful and willing to wait.

The shoes I like most have that classic, traditional look to them -- typically black leather (or at least a close approximation). Though I do have shoes with cleats, my favorites are the ones that were actually designed for touring, and just have a ribbed sole that still gives a good grip on the pedals but still allow some walking.


Sidi Touring Shoes: These were available for a while from Rivendell, but that's probably been 10 years ago now. Classic look, and they work well on traditional pedals. The uppers are an imitation leather, but it's held up well. I got these back when Rivendell offered them, and you can see they still look pretty good after all these years and I don't even know how many miles. My one wish is that I'd gotten one EU size larger, as they are just a bit snug unless I wear really thin socks. Occasionally one sees these on eBay, but not that often. Nice shoes if you can find them, though. It might be time that Sidi brings these back.
Detto Pietro Art. 74: These were probably one of the most common racing shoes one would see in the 70s and early 80s, before clipless pedals took over. Nice leather uppers with a hard nylon sole and slotted cleats. I use these on my vintage racing bikes. One can often find these, or some of the similar models from Duegi or Diadora, on eBay -- sometimes new-old-stock, or very lightly used. The problem is waiting for the right size to come along. Really small sizes (like 40 or smaller) seem to come up all the time on eBay, while the larger sizes tend to be harder to find (the larger, the rarer, it seems).

Carnac Carlit Touring Shoes: Last year I got lucky and found these on eBay -- new-old-stock. Another nice touring shoe, like the Sidi shoes shown above, and discontinued. They are apparently an imitation leather, but it's hard to tell, though they are a good bit shinier than the Sidis. These have become my go-to shoes for commuting. Again, it's too bad they aren't available anymore.

So what's a person to do now if they want traditional-looking shoes that work well with traditional pedals but don't want to search eBay for older models? It's a tough market out there. Sometimes one can find things by searching foreign bike shops -- such as in the UK. But most of the big shoe companies have discontinued these kinds of shoes completely, so they aren't available anywhere. Here are a couple of options, though.

Exustar SRT707: These look fairly traditional and have a fairly smooth sole which is also SPD compatible. One could leave the SPD part covered and use them with toe-clip pedals. They are getting hard to find, though. Nashbar has them, but supplies are dwindling (when I checked, they had nothing larger than size 40) and I don't know if they plan to get more. Velo-Orange had them for a while, but apparently not anymore. Some UK-based bike shops might have them, though.
Dromarti Storica: These are gorgeous and beautifully made. Available in black or brown. Unfortunately, they are also incredibly expensive at about $250. (Dromarti)
Quoc Pham "Fixed": Like the Dromartis, these are a really nicely made leather touring shoe, and almost as expensive (about $200). In this case, the sole is smooth and ribless. They also have some other styles. Available from Quoc Pham directly.

Vittoria 1976 SPD: These have that classic look, and have an SPD-compatible sole that should make them a decent touring shoe. Leave the cleats off, and they would probably work OK with traditional toe-clip pedals. A little cheaper than the Dromartis or Quoc Phams at around $170.

That seems to be it. If anyone out there has tried some of the modern shoes, it might be nice to hear how they feel and work.

8 comments:

  1. I've been riding Reynolds touring shoes for over 20 years. Hand made, English, full leather, and very durable. I guess you haven't heard of them.

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    1. Thanks, Paul! No, I did not know of the Reynolds. They look a little like the Carnacs I have, but with the benefit of all-leather construction. Still pricey (I calculated them to be about $230 at current exchange rates -- shipping included). For interested readers, they are at: http://www.reynoldsshoes.co.uk

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  2. The Euxstars are a good buy at the $40 price at which Nashbar was blowing them out; at the $100 full retail, though, they are less of a value, IME, since the leather is very cheap -- scuffs and flakes easily; like leather from India, at least that I knew as a boy long ago. Since I use either SPDs or Looks, the admittedly nice shape is of less concern to me than it would be to someone who uses straps.

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    1. That's about what I would expect, and matches up with some other things I've heard from people about the Exustars. Thanks for the comments!

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  3. Can I revive this blog's comment section? I have been searching for years for shoes to replace the once fairly common "cycle touring shoe", ones with stiff, if thin soles, and often some sort of ribbing across the pedal area to help fix the position on the pedal. I see far more riders without clipless pedals than with who could still benefit from a stiffer sole. Oh, I hear those who say just buy an SPD 'touring' shoe and use with without the cleat. However, in order to inset the cleat the sole has to be incredibly thick. So to get the same leg extension the saddle has to be raised a comparable amount. Surely somewhere in the world of sport shoe manufacturing there are still good old fashion touring shoes being made? And not the elite $250-$300 variety.

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    1. I agree with you -- The Sidi touring shoes I have are great and I'd love to see them revived. I also used to have a pair of shoes with a very similar sole to those (almost identical) but made be Maressi. Other companies, like Duegi, made touring shoes that were very similar. I know people swear by SPD shoes, but I just don't like them.

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  4. Good to read that there are cyclists out there who still prefer the more traditional cycling shoes. My Sidi shoes are more than 25 years old and now the leather is disintegrating.I've already had to glue the soles back some months ago. Searched everywhere online and have just bought a pair of L'Eroica leather cycling shoes. I hope they fit. I can't wait to show my cycle buddies, who constantly urge me to get cleated shoes.

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  5. There's a German online store who sells vintage-style cycling shoes made in either Italy or France, along with authentic steel vintage bicycles. Check them out:

    https://www.steel-vintage.com/clothing/cycling-shoes/

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