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Sidi Trace - Women's Review

Best suited for cross-country racers looking for a lighter weight shoe that doesn't break the bank
Sidi Trace - Women's
Photo: Competitive Cyclist
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Price:  $200 List
Pros:  Lightweight, breathable, Techno3 lace system works well
Cons:  Hot spots and pressure points, difficult to walk in, small cleat opening
Manufacturer:   Sidi
By Tara Reddinger-Adams ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 14, 2020
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46
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 4
  • Walkability - 25% 3
  • Stability and Control - 20% 5
  • Protection - 15% 4
  • Weight - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Sidi Trace is best for the racer or rider looking for a lightweight, cross-country shoe that offers thoughtful design details without breaking the bank. Advertised as having a narrow, women's specific fit, our testers found that indeed this shoe does run narrow in the toebox, leaving us with pressure points at the widest part of the foot and back of the arch. Sidi features their Techno3 lacing system on the Trace and also offers replacement parts for high wear areas, features typically found on higher-priced shoes. The Trace is minimalistic in terms of protection and shock absorption, and our testers could feel vibrations through the shoes' soles in their feet. The sole offers just enough flex to hike in, but cakes easily with dirt, rocks, and leaves. The Trace is best suited for the rider looking for a race day shoe with a thoughtful design without a top-tier price tag.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Sidi Trace - Women's
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $200 List$200 List$130 List
Check Price at Backcountry
$160.00 at Backcountry$139.95 at Backcountry
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Lightweight, breathable, Techno3 lace system works wellComfortable fit, large cleat opening, good power transfer, excellent trail absorptionLightweight, good power transfer, easy to walk inComfortable, excellent protection, excellent power transfer, easy to clip in and out of, great for hike-a-bikeLightweight, very good power transfer, breathable
Cons Hot spots and pressure points, difficult to walk in, small cleat openingLacks breathability, expensiveNot the best lateral stabilityHeavy, not waterproofLacking side protection on the mid-foot
Bottom Line Best suited for cross-country racers looking for a lighter weight shoe that doesn't break the bankThis comfortable shoe impressed our testers with its fit, trail absorption, and power transfer and is a great match for short trail rides and all-day epics alikeThis unassuming shoe combines on and off the bike performance with good power transfer and walking comfort at a relatively reasonable price tagA high-performing shoe that offers comfort paired with excellent stability, protection, and walkabilityA solid performing shoe packed with features typically reserved for shoes with a much higher price tag
Rating Categories Sidi Trace - Women's Mallet Boa - Unisex 2FO Roost Clip - Un... Traverse Scott MTB Elite Boa...
Comfort (25%)
4.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Walkability (25%)
3.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Stability And Control (20%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Protection (15%)
4.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
8.0
6.0
9.0
3.0
7.0
Specs Sidi Trace - Women's Mallet Boa - Unisex 2FO Roost Clip - Un... Traverse Scott MTB Elite Boa...
Measured Weight (g) 335g 379g 322g 450g 351g
Outsole Sidi MTB Sole Match MC1 SlipNot FG DST 8.0 MID GRIP Rubber Sticki rubber
Closure Velcro/Tecno3 Boa, Velcro strap Laces Laces/Velcro Boa, Velcro strap
Upper Material Politex Synthetic synthetic leather Synthetic & D30 Microfiber, 3D nylon air mesh
Footbed not specified Body Geometry EVA Foam ErgoLogic
Sole MTB SR17 EVA midsole Soft Lollipop Nylon Composite Plate D30 High Impact Insole Fiberglass-reinforced nylon
Size Tested EU 40 US 7 EU 39.5 / US 8.5 EU 39.5 / US 8.5 EU 39

Our Analysis and Test Results

Advertised as an ultra-stiff, nylon soled, narrow fit shoe, our testers find the Sidi Trace to indeed be narrow, but not ultra-stiff. The Trace's sole is composed of Sidi's MTB RS17 nylon with polyurethane inserts designed to increase stiffness. The Trace is not as stiff as the carbon-soled shoes we tested but does offer moderate stiffness for its price. Sidi uses their Techno3 lacing, which works very well and allows the rider to dial in the fit to their foot. The shoe's narrow fit caused us some fit issues, ranging from hot spots to pressure points, making these best suited for riders with a narrow foot. The Trace is more of a cross-country shoe, which is evident while testing on technical trails that involved lots of rocks and drops; it is here that the lack of impact cushioning was apparent, causing us to feel vibrations from the trail in our feet. For the cross-country rider with a narrow foot who is looking for a race day shoe, the Trace is worth consideration.

Performance Comparison


The Sidi Trace's sole is constructed of nylon and features...
The Sidi Trace's sole is constructed of nylon and features replaceable toe lugs.
Photo: Byron Adams

Stability and Control


Sidi touts the Trace's MTB RS17 nylon sole with polyurethane inserts to be ultra-stiff, but in our testing we found them to be moderately stiff in comparison to others tested. In part, this could be due to the shoe's very small cleat opening, which has just 1" of fore-aft adjustment, and places the cleat more forward than we are accustomed to.

We found our foot position to be more toe down in the shoe on the...
We found our foot position to be more toe down in the shoe on the left in comparison to the shoe on the right, due to less fore/aft cleat adjustment.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

The Trace lacks an impact-absorbing footbed and the MTB RS17 sole and footbed sent trail vibrations into feet while riding through rock gardens. While landing drops we felt this pressure in the back of the arch. However, we did not feel the cleat through the footbed or sole of the shoe while pushing or pulling on the pedals allowing reasonable control over the pedals; the only feedback to the feet was from vibration and impact.

Relatively little fore/aft adjustment, with only a 1" opening.
Relatively little fore/aft adjustment, with only a 1" opening.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Comfort


Our testers have enjoyed wearing Sidi's road shoes for years, known for making durable and comfortable shoes, and we had high hopes for these lightweight shoes. However, a narrow fit combined with a lack of impact-absorbing materials in the sole and footbed left us disappointed.

We could feel the impact of landings through the Trace's sole.
We could feel the impact of landings through the Trace's sole.
Photo: Byron Adams

Out of the box, the tongue of the shoe cut into our ankles. However, we quickly resolved this by cutting through the perforations in the shoe's tongue, allowing it to flex. Sidi uses their Techno3 and hook and loop (aka velcro) closure system to ensure a dialed-in fit. The Techno3 system is similar to the Boa system and allows the rider to dial in the fit very well, especially in comparison to shoes that only have velcro closures.

The tongue has slits that are designed to be cut away by the shoes...
The tongue has slits that are designed to be cut away by the shoes owner, thus alleviating the tongue cutting into the ankle.
Photo: Byron Adams

We found the shoe's fit to be snug but not uncomfortably so and expected it to loosen up over time. But, during our testing, the shoe did not stretch out. Due to the snug fit, hot spots and pressure points developed in the mid-arch on our right foot. While not a show stopper, it was irritating and was a sign of fit issues that would plague us over time. Over the coming rides, we would continually experience pressure points in the forefoot, mid-arch, and back of the arch, making this shoe uncomfortable for our foot.

We enjoyed the ease of use of the Techno3 system, which helps to...
We enjoyed the ease of use of the Techno3 system, which helps to dial in your fit.
Photo: Byron Adams

The Politex uppers are perforated allowing airflow into the shoe making the Trace one of the more breathable shoes we tested. Our testers never experienced any issues with our feet being too hot while wearing the Traces.

Walkability


The Sidi Trace has a bit of flex through the toebox, allowing the shoe to flex, making walking easier and more comfortable than stiffer carbon-soled models. The toe lugs on the sole of the shoe are replaceable. This is a nice touch, as Sidi feels this to be an area that can quickly wear out.

During our testing, we spent time hiking on wet, leaf-covered, loose, and rocky terrain. The sole of the Trace lacks grip compared to models with sticky rubber. The toe lugs were not soft enough nor aggressive enough to allow us to comfortably hike on rocks without thinking about, and carefully planting our foot to prevent slipping. We found shoes with softer lugs gripped rocks better, as did those with sticky rubber soles. On wet and muddy trails, the Sidi's lugs caked with dirt, rocks, and leaves to the point of encasing the lugs in mud, rendering them useless, as the soles became very slippery.

The lugs easily caked with mud and leaves making for some slippery...
The lugs easily caked with mud and leaves making for some slippery hiking.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Protection


The uppers of the Sidi Trace are made of Politex a material that seems fairly tough and durable, and during our testing, we had no issues with the shoes' durability.

The Politex resists scuffing remarkably well, leaving these shoes to look surprisingly new despite their use. The toebox and heel area feature two layers of overlapping Politex providing additional foot protection from rocks and other trail debris. While not as substantial as a trail shoe, the Trace does offer the rider more foot protection than some higher-priced cross-country shoes we tested.

Dual layers of Politex over the toe box and reinforcement on the...
Dual layers of Politex over the toe box and reinforcement on the heel provide the foot with protection.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Weight


Our size EU40 shoes weighed just 335-grams, placing them on the lighter end of the spectrum of shoes we tested. The Trace does have a fairly minimal construction and thus we would expect it to be relatively lightweight.

The shoe weighs 335 grams for a EU40/US8
The shoe weighs 335 grams for a EU40/US8
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Value


The Sidi Trace's price tag is on par with most of the shoes we tested and can be found discounted through many online retailers. However, we felt for the price that the Trace offered quite a few features, such as replaceable parts to extend the shoes' life, that makes them an attractive purchase.

Conclusion


This shoe could be a good value for the rider who understands its limits in terms of fit and function. For those with narrow feet looking for a cross-country shoe, the Trace is definitely up to the task, and with replaceable parts, they should outlast many competitors. However, if your preferred terrain involves lots of rocks, drops, or if you have a wide foot we recommend a different shoe.

Overall, we found the trace to be best suited for cross country rides.
Overall, we found the trace to be best suited for cross country rides.
Photo: Byron Adams

Tara Reddinger-Adams