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Hands-on Gear Review
Sidi Dominator 5 Fit Review
Cons: Expensive, insoles lack arch support
The Sidi Dominator 5 is a high-end cross-country mountain bike shoe. Most comparable to shoes such as our Best Buy winner, the Giro Privateer, the Dominator offers similar performance with a higher pedigree and price to match. Its lightweight, comfortable fit and top-notch construction made it a favorite of our testers. The sole is stiff and provides great power transfer. The ratchet strap, buckle, and the lugs on the outsole are replaceable, which can help to extend the service life of the shoe.
RELATED: Our complete review of mountain bike shoes
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
Sidi has been making mountain bike shoes and road bike shoes for a long time. The original version of this shoe was called the Dominator 5, and did not carry the additional "Fit" moniker. The original Dominator 5 was one of the most popular mountain bike shoes ever, if you were a serious XC racer you had to have a pair. The redesigned Fit version has a new upper material that does not stretch like the original, and features replaceable outsole lugs. Many of us have owned or still own a pair of the original Dominators, and the fit is nearly identical. The upper still feels supple right out of the box, but it seems to retain its shape a bit better over time on this new version. If you have an eye for quality and soft spot for the "Made in Italy" tag, these shoes are worth a look. Read on to see how the Dominator Fit stacked up against the other shoes we tested.
Sidi has always been known for producing a comfortable shoe. The upper of the Dominator Fit is quite supple and has that slipper like feel that has become synonymous with the Sidi brand over the years. The upper is not made of leather like the shoes of old, but the synthetic material has its advantages such as less stretch and deformation over time, especially if you ride in wet conditions. Sidi uses a ratcheting strap and two Velcro straps for retention. The Velcro straps are somewhat unique, with a row of plastic teeth in the center of the strap that engage when you set the Velcro in place. In theory this makes the Velcro more secure. The ankle cuff has minimal padding, but we found it to be comfortable. The only complaint we have is the insole, which is quite thin and provides very little arch support.
The Sidi Dominator Fit is one of the lightest shoes we tested at 1lb 10oz for the pair. They will not weigh you down on the climbs. Many shoes that are extremely light seem to utilize flimsy, non-durable materials; this is not the case with the Dominator Fit. The materials are of exceptional quality and the construction is robust.
The Dominator Fit is a cross-country oriented shoe, and the power transfer is top notch, comparable to the Giro Privateer and the Pearl Izumi X-Project. The Sole is made of a composite plastic material, rather than carbon fiber, but these shoes feel very stiff under pedaling load, and you would have to be a very discerning rider to notice the difference between the Dominator Fit and most carbon-soled shoes.
Traction, Walking, Running
With a stiff shoe like the Dominator Fit, walking and running are not going to be as fluid and natural as you get with a shoe like the Pearl Izumi X-Project. The Dominators do have a rigid heel cup, which some of our testers felt helped to keep their heel anchored when walking and running, which makes the shoe feel a bit more efficient. However, the rigid heel cup only seems to help if your foot is shaped in such a way that your heel drops deep in the cup, so luck of the draw on the effectiveness of this feature. The lugs on the outsole are quite hard and can be slippery on rock, despite being softer than the lugs of the original Sidi Dominator. The overall shape and design of the lugs is less effective at digging into soft grass and mud than other shoes we tested, such as the Giro Privateer. An option to run toe spikes is a nice feature, and if things get wet you will want to use them.
The Sidi Dominator Fit shoe is quite durable. The Competition outsole is made of a rather hard rubber compound and resists wear, even when used for cyclocross which involves lots of time off the bike. The lugs on the outsole are also replaceable if you do wear them down. The midsole that provides the stiffness and structure to the shoe is exposed to abrasion, but the plastic is incredibly hard and it is difficult to imagine subjecting the shoe to enough abuse that it would affect the structural integrity of the sole. The upper is tough and well put together, but it is more prone to abrasion than other shoes we tested, such as the Giro Terraduro. The ratcheting buckle and Velcro straps held up well during testing.
The Sidi Dominator Fit is best suited to use as a cross country or cyclocross shoe, but it can certainly handle trail rides as well. We would be hesitant to take it out on a ride that would require a lot of time off the bike in rocky terrain due to the slippery nature of the outsole.
The Sidi Dominator Fit is a well-constructed shoe, and offers good performance. However, it retails for $250, which is $100 more than the Giro Privateer that offers a very comparable level of performance. We like the Dominator Fit, but it is not the best value.
The Sidi Dominator Fit is a well-constructed cross-country oriented shoe. There was a time when the Dominator model was regarded as the crème of the crop mountain biking shoe, but it now has many competitors that offer a similar product at a much more competitive price point. Sidi products are made in either Italy or Romania, and one has to assume that the production costs are higher than what you would find in Asia. There is no arguing that Sidi produces a high end product, but you will pay a premium for this Italian made shoe.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Dominator Fit is also available in a Mega version that is designed to fit those with wide or higher volume feet. Sidi also makes a range of mountain bike shoes including some very high end models including the Drako $500, which has a carbon sole and a Boa like closure system.
— Curtis Smith
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: October 1, 2015
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