Sidi Trace - Women's Review
Cons: Hot spots and pressure points, difficult to walk in, small cleat opening
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Advertised as a ultra stiff, nylon soled, narrow fit shoe, our testers found 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 to increase stiffness, while we did not find the Trace to be as stiff as carbon-soled shoes we tested, it does offer moderate stiffness for its price. Sidi uses their Techno3 lacing, which works very well and allows the rider dial in the fit to their foot. The shoe's narrow fit caused our testers to have 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 became evident while testing on technical trails that involved lots of rocks and drops; it is here that the lack of impact cushioning became evident, causing us to feel vibrations from the trail in our feet. For the cross-country rider whose foot tends to be on the narrow side, and is looking for a race day shoe the Trace is worth consideration.
Stability and Control
Sidi touts the Trace's MTB RS17 nylon sole with polyurethane inserts to be ultra stiff and our testers found the shoe to be moderately stiff in comparison to the others we tested. In part, this could be due to the shoe's very small cleat opening, which allows for just 1" of fore-aft adjustment, thus placing the cleat more forward than we are accustomed to. However, many riders prefer a toe down pedal position.
Because the Trace lacks an impact-absorbing footbed, the MTB RS17 sole and footbed allowed our testers to feel pressure in the soles of the feet while riding through rock gardens. While landing drops our testers felt this pressure in the back of the arch. However, our testers 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 is from rock gardens and drops.
Our testers have enjoyed wearing Sidi's road shoes for years, known for making durable and comfortable shoes, 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 our testers disappointed.
Out of the box the shoes tongue cut into our ankle, however we quickly resolved this by cutting through the perforations in the shoe's tongue, allowing it to flex. Sidi uses its 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 does allow the rider to dial in the fit very well, especially in comparison to shoes who only have velcro closures, which are more difficult to obtain a maximal fit with.
We found the shoe's fit to be snug but not uncomfortably so and expected it to loosen up over time. During our testing, we did not experience the shoe stretching 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 is irritating and was a sign of fit issues which would come to plague us. Over the coming rides we would continually experience pressure points in the forefoot, mid-arch, and back of arch, making this shoe uncomfortable for our foot.
The Politex uppers are perforated allowing airflow into the shoemaking the Trace one of the more breathable shoes we tested. Our testers never experienced any issues with their feet being too hot while wearing the Traces.
The Sidi Trace has a bit of flex behind the toebox, allowing the shoe to flex making walking easier and more comfortable to walk in 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.We found the sole of the Trace to be lacking 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 where we stepped and carefully planting our foot and pressing it into the rock to prevent slipping. In contrast softer lugs, as found on other shoes we tested, 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 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 resisted 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 the 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.
Our size EU40 shoes weighed just 335grams, making them some of the lightest shoes we tested. However, due to the shoes fairly minimal construction, we would expect it to be relatively lightweight.
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 make it an attractive purchase.
This shoe could be a good value for the rider who understands its limits in terms of fit and function. For those with narrow foot looking for a cross-country shoe, the Trace is definitely up to the task and with replaceable parts should outlast many of its competitors. However, if your preferred terrain involves lots of rocks, drops, or if you have a wide foot we recommend a different shoe.
— Tara Reddinger-Adams