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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
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Price:  $200 List | $159.96 at Competitive Cyclist
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
#9 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, including 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' sole in their feet. The sole offers enough flex to hike in, but we can cake easily with dirt, rocks and leaves. The Trace is best suited for the rider looking for a race day shoe with thoughtful design without a top tier price tag.


Compare to Similar Products

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.

Performance Comparison


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

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.

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.
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.

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.

Relatively little fore/aft adjustment  with only a 1" opening.
Relatively little fore/aft adjustment, with only a 1" opening.

Comfort


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.

We could feel the impact of landings through the Trace's sole.
We could feel the impact of landings through the Trace's sole.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Walkability


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 lugs easily caked with mud and leaves making for some slippery hiking.
The lugs easily caked with mud and leaves making for some slippery hiking.

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 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.

Dual layers of Politex over the toe box and reinforcement on the heel provide the foot with protection.
Dual layers of Politex over the toe box and reinforcement on the heel provide the foot with protection.

Weight


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 shoe weighs 335 grams for a EU40/US8
The shoe weighs 335 grams for a EU40/US8

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 make it 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 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.

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.


Tara Reddinger-Adams