The dhb Dorica Road Shoes represent good value. Taking either two-bolt or three-bolt cleats (caveats apply), with well-thought-out features, for the money they are a good option. Be mindful sizes run large, though.
- Pros: 2 or 3-bolt cleats, adjustability of laces, looks
- Cons: Not for colder/wetter weather, no reflectives, 'pontoons' hard to source & could cause issues
The Dorica shoe harks back to yesteryear with its laces and lack of high-visibility or reflectivity. Coming in black or white, these are the cycling equivalent of a Little Black Dress or black polo-neck sweater, and will pair with just about any cycling apparel.
Further enhancing their utility is the ability to take either two-bolt or three-bolt cleats, putting a firm stamp of approval on the increasing use of mountain bike-style SPD pedals for road cycling. There's absolutely nowt wrong with two-bolt cleats for use on the road, and the science is not settled yet on subjects such as 'hot foot' or other pains being predominantly the domain of one cleat design or the other. And for some applications a three-bolt cleat is clearly a non-starter – where you need to walk a distance in your cycling shoes, or anywhere off tarmac.
With an increasing trend towards bikes as much at home on gravel or bridleway as tarmac, a shoe able to take two-bolt cleats appeals to a much wider market. In order to run two-bolt cleats, though, dhb says: "MTB SPD cleat mount option (requires pontoons, not included)." These pontoons provide lateral stability and grip when walking with a relatively narrow two-bolt cleat under the shoe. A drawback here is that Wiggle doesn't sell them, so you have to buy elsewhere, adding roughly 20 per cent to the cost of the Dorica.
Shimano's SM-SH40 adapter costs about £15, and fits to a two/three-hole shoe, providing support outboard of the cleat to aid walking. Reviews of these are very mixed, the rubberised area seeming not to last long at all. If you want stability and longevity you might be better off looking at a dedicated two-bolt shoe with rubberised support around the cleat.
Room to move
The sizing of the Doria runs large. I'm typically a 45 in cycling shoes; the ones I tested were a 44, and I was able to wear them for hours at a stretch with a thick winter merino sock (the excellent De Feet Woolie Boolie. The toe box in particular feels roomy, a real boon for those with poor circulation like myself. With Wiggle's excellent free returns policy, you should have no problem finding a pair that fit.
The major feature of the Dorica are the laces – there's an increasing trend for a return to laces as an infinitely-adjustable, low-cost and indeed retro-looking closure solution. If you don't feel a need to adjust your shoes mid-ride, you should consider laces over Velcro or the much pricier Boa wire systems.
The Doricas solve the one major drawback of laces – getting them caught in your chain – by including an elasticated 'lace retainer' halfway down the tongue that they can tuck into. The detailing extends to 'dhb' being printed on the lace ends. The laces pull easily through the metal eyelets, making micro-adjustments easy. The tongue itself is padded down the centre for even tension distribution.
Underneath, a basic nylon sole will be stiff enough for most riders, but walking traction is limited as there are no rubberised inserts on the raised sections at heel or toe. The Dorica definitely leans towards warmer weather, with three mesh-covered vents in the sole. These could be taped over on the inside for winter riding.
The insole is a basic thin item, with no arch support to speak of. While I didn't feel the need, others might desire a more supportive insole.
The synthetic upper is well assembled, the stitching feels quality and the overall impression is of a more expensive shoe. There are many ventilation holes along the top, and muted dhb logos side and rear. No reflectives adorn the Dorica, so commuters might want to consider adding a blingy something now the science is in on moving legs being the best place to highlight your presence to motorists.
Cycling shoes are much like saddles: there's little correlation between cost, comfort and overall value. The Dorica has an RRP of £70 but can frequently be found for less at Wiggle (earlier, they were less than £50, currently they're £67).
I found them to be a perfectly adequate, comfortable shoe for rides up to four hours. I tend to run a bit cold, so the ability to wear a thicker sock was welcome. That's not to say you couldn't ride in them all day – but feet/shoes being such an individual aspect, all I can say is I had no problems.
At £70 or less, there's less risk than most in losing out financially if you find they don't suit long-term. Using laces means if, in midsummer, I need to go for a thin sock, there should be no issue getting a snug fit, while the roomy toe box and three vents should aid cooling/comfort.
Overall, if you like laces, use three-bolt cleats – or accept a two-bolt setup without needing walkability – the Dorica could be the shoe for you.
A stylish, well-made, warmer weather shoe that can fit both cleat standards, with well-thought-out features, at a good price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Dorica Road Shoe
Size tested: 44 (weight is for pair size 39)
Tell us what the product is for
They are a shoe for someone on a budget, or wider of foot, who likes laces and muted styling.
dhb says: "A classic looking shoe with the adjustability that only laces can offer. The dhb Dorica Road Shoe adds a touch of class to your kit-list and provides outstanding comfort and versatility.
Laces have been used since the beginning of the bicycle, offering riders the opportunity to gain the right balance between a secure and a comfortable fit. Due to the traditional 'oxford style' opening, these shoes allow lots of flexibility in finding the perfect fit; open or close them depending on your foot shape. The shoe has an elastic lace retainer mid-way down the shoe to keep things secure, tidy, and to ensure they don't get caught up in your chain rings.
The nylon sole offers the right balance between pedal efficiency and compliance for performance and all-day comfort.
Perforated holes on the top of the shoe increase breathability for warmer weather riding, or more intense sessions. The side of the shoe is more robust, protecting against contact with the terrain or bike. The perforated tongue also helps to increase airflow, and shapes over the top of the foot for added comfort when you close the laces. The toe-box width has been increased to accommodate a slightly wider forefoot, or a thicker pair of socks for those cooler weather rides. Finally, the black inner mesh fabric looks crisp no matter what you ride through."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
268g (size 42)
Cleat Fitting - 3 Bolt Look Type:
They look and feel well assembled – nothing coming adrift after a month's use.
These will meet the needs of most cyclists, though the lack of undersole grip could be a downside.
They look like new after a month – material choice is solid.
Arch support could be better for some, and there's a wide toe box for wiggle room.
These size large compared with other cycling shoes in my experience.
They don't feel overly-leaden for the price.
At sub-£70, if they fit you and you use 3-bolt cleats, they're great value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Wiped clean without a trace.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Well enough, for what they cost. As a gravel/touring bike shoe the lack of rubber heel/toe grip might put some off – these aren't made for walking.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The laces – they look great and work well.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fact that to use them with two-bolt cleats, you need to buy an extra part that Wiggle doesn't stock. Maybe more arch support would be nice too.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but with the warning that using two-bolt cleats might be a challenge and extra cost.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The price, looks and multi-cleat flexibility would put these at an 8, but the lack of reflectives, challenges with two-bolt cleat 'pontoon' sourcing/fitting, and minimal grip and arch support knock the score down.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling