A common sight in the professional peloton, the Sidi Wire Carbon Air Vernice road shoes offer fantastic fit, comfort, stiffness and ventilation that marks them out as a very high performance shoe, easily among the best I've ever tested. The lack of a customisable mouldable upper might be a deal breaker at this price for some, but the comfort doesn't suffer because of that.
The Wire shoe was first introduced a few years ago and is a keen favourite with the professional peloton, where shoes are still separated from sponsorship demands. Chris Froome wore a pair to Tour de France victory this year, and he's not alone in choosing Sidis.
The key feature of the Wire Carbon Air Vernice is the perforated Lorica Vernice upper, which is intended to keep your feet cool when cycling under the baking sun of the high mountains.
Despite the lack of a heat mouldable upper, something that is becoming a common feature on shoes in this price bracket, the fit really is excellent. It usually takes me a while to get comfortable in a new pair of cycling shoes, a couple of rides minimum. The Sidis were comfortable right from the off.
There's a wider range of available adjustment compared with most other shoes, which helps you personalise the fit. Pressure is spread evenly across the foot, no pinch points or pressure hotspots at all. So good is that fit that I didn't have to resort to really tightening the dials to stop my feet slopping about in the shoes.
For the record, I found the fit comparable to Shimano, Gaerne and Fizik shoes that I have been testing recently. Sidi offers several Mega wide fit shoe models if the regular shoes are too narrow for you.
Each shoe is secured in place with the company's Techno-3 Push ratcheting dial, a proprietary design using non-stretch wire – which gives the shoe its name. There are two dials, one controlling a wire laced over the forefoot, and the second controlling the Soft Instep Closure System, a wide curved thermo-formed EVA pad that evenly spreads pressure across the top of the foot.
The dials are easy to use. A red button releases the ratchet lever making adjustment, whether sat on the startline or on-the-fly, a doddle. Press the two release buttons on the side of the dial and the wire quickly loosens, allowing for easy shoe removal. The dials enable easy micro adjustment in either direction, though they're not quite as straightforward to use as the more popular Boa 2 dials.
Sidi's Heel Security System (HSS) is a really nice feature. There are two small screws in a stiffening rib wrapped around the back of the shoe that can be used to clamp the heel cup around the ankle to the desired level, meaning you can completely eliminate heel lift.
The generous amount of venting, both in the sole and on the upper, helps with comfort by minimising overheating – and sweaty feet – when cycling in high temperatures.
If there's one feature that is lacking, it is heat mouldable uppers. At this price, it's not unreasonable that you might lean towards such a shoe. That said, the fit of the Sidi shoes is so good that I didn't find it a drawback, with the wide range of adjustment more than adequate.
There's no mistaking the high level of stiffness these shoes offer when hitting the road. The shoes feature a Carbon Lite sole, and power transfer is right up there with the stiffest race shoes I've tested, with absolutely no detectable flex.
The sole is drilled for 3-bolt cleats (there is a Speedplay-specific version) and there are detailed markings for aligning cleats. This really helps get the cleats perfectly positioned – there's nothing more annoying than soles with inadequate cleat markings. The sole is vented, which works in unison with the perforated upper to minimise overheating.
Sidi's shoes are famously durable and all the details are high quality, as you'd expect. Those details are replaceable too, so should they wear out, or become damaged, they can easily be replaced. That includes the straps and dials and the sole bumpers.
They're available in various colours and sizes from 38 to 48 and in half sizes too. Weight for the pair of size 45 shoes tested is 658g.
Sidi shoes come with a lot of history and pedigree, and despite the growing competition and innovation being brought to the shoe market by younger brands, Sidi's top-end race shoe can still hold its own. Sidi gets the basics, and the details, just right, and the result is a very comfortable shoe that is easy to adjust for fit. It's easy to see why so many Tour racers choose them.
Supreme fit, comfort and stiffness but they don't come cheap
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sidi Wire Carbon Air Vernice
Size tested: 45, white
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Sidi says: "The Wire Carbon Air Vernice Road Shoe features all the outstanding quality and top end features that make Sidi a staple of cycle shoe excellence. With Soft Instep 3 Closure, Adjustable Heel Retention and Techno-3 dial for a detailed custom fit."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Perforated construction on the upper shoe for maximum ventilation
Soft Instep 3 closure system for microadjusted fit
Light weight and stiff Vent Carbon Sole with integrated air channels
Techno-3 System dials with proprietary non-binding wire for custom fit
Adjustable Heel Retention Device reinforces heel cup for better fit during high movement moments
Sidi Heel Cup for added durability and stable footing
Superb attention to detail and all the dials and heel/toe pads are replaceable.
The shoes are easily adjusted and the result is an excellent fit, with superb comfort no matter how long you're pedalling for.
The shiny upper is easily cleaned so they stay looking good for longer, and all the working bits are replaceable.
You can get lighter shoes for this sort of money but they're hardly what you'd describe as heavy.
Comfort is where the Sidi shoes really justify their high price tag. They may not have a heat mouldable upper, but the fit is so good that you could argue they don't need it. Add in loads of adjustment so you can really dial in the fit and you have a comfortable shoe out of the box.
They're certainly not cheap, but the performance and comfort do justify the high asking price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
If you want a high performance shoe, these really do tick the box.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fit, comfort and stiffness.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
High price tag.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
They're expensive but the fit, comfort and stiffness is on a par with similarly priced high-end performance cycling shoes.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.