The Sidi SD15 is a clipless mountain bike shoe aimed squarely at the all-mountain and adventure market made by one of the top bike shoe manufacturers in the business. Sadly, the SD15 fell short of the bar set by the other shoes in our selection with the most flexible soles and poorest power transfer of all models tested. The shoe does have many great features, like grippy rubber soles, excellent off-the-bike walking performance, and reliable closures, and may be a good fit for certain types of riders. That said, performance-oriented mountain bikers will probably be much happier with any of the other models in this test — especially similarly priced models like the Giro Terraduro, the Specialized 2FO Cliplite, or the Shimano ME7. All offer equally good traction off the bike and far superior power transfer and performance on your shred sled.
Sidi SD15 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Grippy rubber soles, walks well, solid closures
Cons: Expensive for performance, terrible power transfer, minimal foot protection, thin footbeds
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We have to admit that we were excited when we saw the SD15. It seemed like the Italian bike shoe giant Sidi had finally made a mountain bike shoe with a grippy walkable sole, and we assumed that it would have their signature XC style performance that we have come to know and love. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The SD15 fell short of the bar set by all of the other shoes in our test selection. The SD15 has been designed with all-mountain and trail riding in mind, and we found it to be best suited for that style of riding.
The SD15 performs well with a variety of pedals and was tested primarily using small platform Shimano Deore XT M8020 pedals, but would also perform well with full platform pedals such as XPedo GFX. We would not recommend using them with pedals that don't have any platform, due to the flexibility of the soles. We tested the SD15 on XC and all-mountain trail rides ranging from shorter enduro style laps to half day trips.
Off the bike, the SD15 is a reasonably comfortable shoe. The soft Politex Suede synthetic uppers are soft and supple and conform to your feet within minutes of putting them on. The shoe features one of Sidi's Tecno 3 cable closures that crisscrosses over the upper part of the foot while a simple Velcro strap secures it down by the toes. Unfortunately, these shoes aren't just made for walking around in, because they are comfortable for that purpose. On the bike, these shoes are uncomfortable for some reasons.
There is very minimal padding, mainly the tongue and around the top of the ankle opening, as well as Sidi's signature molded plastic heel cup. Otherwise, the shoe offers little to no protection for the feet and we felt especially vulnerable in these shoes. Just like the Sidi Cape, the footbed of the SD15 is wafer thin and offers little support or cushioning. The Sidi "Outdoor Sole" lacks a stiff shank in the sole which allows it to flex under power. The flex of the sole leads to strain and even cramping of the feet both when pedaling and descending. Walking on rocks - one of this shoe's strong points - is even somewhat uncomfortable since you can feel the points of the rocks through the sole. Sure these shoes fit nicely, but that's about where the comfort ends.
The SD15 weighs 416g per shoe for the size 44 that we tested. It's by no means the lightest shoe out there, but far from the heaviest. The shoes feel light in your hand and also on your feet. That said, the SD15 weighs about the same as several other shoes in our test selection that offer significantly better power transfer and overall performance such as the Shimano ME7 or our top pick for enduro racing, the Specialized 2FO Cliplite. Anyone looking for a lighter and less expensive pair of shoes with far superior power transfer need look no further than our Best Buy award winner, the Giro Privateer R.
Contrary to our expectations, the SD15 failed to deliver the power transfer that Sidi shoes are typically known for. In fact, the SD15 scored the lowest of all shoes tested in that category. As far as we can tell, there is no shank whatsoever in the shoe, and this is evidenced by the fact that you can fold them in half. The shoes flex under power, and you can feel the pedal through the sole of the shoe. This results in foot fatigue, soreness and even cramping. While riding you could also feel the sole flex laterally around the cleat. This took us off guard, and it is unclear why a mountain bike shoe with clipless pedal compatibility would be made with such little support in the sole, especially for $200.
One of the SD15's strongest points is its traction and walkability. We might even go out on a limb and say that this shoe is better for walking than it is for riding. Sidi's "Outdoor Sole" is a full coverage rubber sole with large well-spaced lugs under the heel and the forefoot. The rubber isn't as soft as that found on the Five Ten Hellcat Pro or the Giro Terraduro, but it is still very grippy and offered excellent traction on virtually all surfaces. The wide spacing of the lugs cleared mud, snow, and other debris with ease. The walkability of the SD15 is made even better because the sole offers full flex from toe to heel, much like a pair of running or hiking shoes, so it is not inhibited in any way by a shank or anything similar. The lack of shank in the sole is disconcerting in many ways and it means that you can feel sharp rocks through the sole when you step on them.
Despite our general lack of enthusiasm for the performance of the SD15 we have to admit that it appears to be a well-made product. So far there are no durability issues to report. The soles look almost brand new. The stitching is all intact and there is barely a scratch on the uppers. The closures have also worked flawlessly thus far.
The SD15 is unlike any other in our test selection and it is somewhat of a struggle to pinpoint the best use for this shoe. It is very far from an XC shoe, and it lacks the stiffness and power transfer that nearly all types of riding require. We do feel that perhaps adventure style riders, those who spend equal time walking and riding, may find a spot in their heart for these shoes. Also, infrequent recreational riders who value walkability and durability over power transfer might also enjoy these.
At a retail price of $200, we do not feel that the SD15 is a good value due to the poor power transfer and on the bike performance. We are a little surprised by this due to Sidi's long-standing reputation as one of the best shoe manufacturers in the business. For the money, we would recommend the Giro Terraduro, the Shimano ME7, or our top pick for enduro racers, the Specialized 2FO Cliplite which all offer equally good walkability with far superior on-the-bike performance. Our Best Buy award winner, the Giro Privateer R, also offers much better on-the-bike performance for $50 less.
Our expectations for the SD15 were met with a truly underwhelming performance due to inferior power transfer and on-the-bike performance. While we like the concept of a walkable Sidi mountain bike shoe with a grippy rubber sole, they failed to create one that excels at the shoe's primary task, riding a bike. If only they would glue this sole to the bottom of one of their proven high-performance models, then they would be on to something.
— Jeremy Benson