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Sidi Trace 2 Review

This shoe combines great power transfer and walkability in a hard-soled, lightweight package
Sidi Trace 2
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Price:  $215 List | $161.24 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, great power transfer
Cons:  Expensive, strap mount can snag on your crank
Manufacturer:   Sidi
By Zach Wick ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 6, 2020
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 18
  • Power Transfer - 20% 9
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Traction Walkability - 25% 7
  • Weight - 15% 10
  • Durability - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Sidi Trace 2 is a solid, all-around mountain bike shoe that's well suited to anything from casual trail riding to cross-country racing. With a simple closure system that allows for quick tension adjustments on the go, a stiff nylon pedaling platform, and a walkable, grippy outsole, these shoes fit right in on most terrain and in just about any condition. While they didn't stand out as our favorite shoe in any single area, they're well-rounded enough to warrant a look from anyone in search of a hard-soled mountain bike shoe. Like most hard-soled shoes, however, they don't offer the same foot protection as the bulkier trail or gravity-oriented shoes we tested, and the stiff sole can lead to some fatigue on longer, chunkier descents.

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Sidi Trace 2
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Sidi Trace 2
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Price $161.24 at Competitive Cyclist
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$130.00 at Competitive Cyclist$160.00 at Competitive Cyclist$120.00 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, comfortable, great power transferStealth rubber soles, excellent power transfer, significantly lighter than previous version, great toe and heel protectionLightweight, reasonable price, casual style, great blend of pedaling stiffness and walkabilityLugged //Vibram// sole, versatile fit, stiff but walkableVersatile, robust construction, easy adjustment, casual style
Cons Expensive, strap mount can snag on your crankNo medial ankle protection, short break-in periodRoomy fit in the forefoot, not the best lateral stabilityLimited on-the-go adjustmentsSingle boa closure, limited traction in wet conditions
Bottom Line This shoe channels your power directly into the pedals, but remains a comfortable off-the-bike shoeA quality gravity shoe with excellent power transfer, foot protection, and off the bike traction with a mid-pack weight that expands its appeal and versatilityLightweight with good power transfer and walkability, these are a reasonably priced trail riding shoe with casual stylingA lightweight and sturdy shoe to take on the backcountryComfortable fit, casual style, and great on-trail performance make this a versatile option for trail riders
Rating Categories Sidi Trace 2 Five Ten Hellcat Pro Specialized 2FO Roost Clip Specialized Rime 2.0 Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch SPD
Power Transfer (20%)
9
9
8
7
8
Comfort (25%)
8
8
7
8
9
Traction Walkability (25%)
7
8
9
10
8
Weight (15%)
10
7
10
8
7
Durability (15%)
7
10
8
8
9
Specs Sidi Trace 2 Five Ten Hellcat Pro Specialized 2FO... Specialized Rime 2.0 Pearl Izumi X-Alp...
Closure Tecno 3 closure system and velcro straps Laces plus wide velcro strap Laces L6 Boa and Laces L6 Boa
Measured Weight (per shoe) 392 grams 452 grams 375 grams 419 grams 436 grams
Size Tested 44.5 10 (44) 43.5 44.5 45
Width Options Regular and "Mega" Regular Regular Regular Regular
Upper Material Politex Synthetic with DWR Synthetic Leather and Textile XPEL Hydrophobic Mesh Recycled Cordura fabric
Footbed Nylon/Polyester Five Ten padded foam Specialized Body Geometry Specialized Body Geometry Pearl Izumi Insole
Sole MTB RS17 Sole, nylon 3/4 length Dual-density TPU shank/Compression-molded EVA Stiff Lollipop nylon composite plate Lollipop Nylon Composite Composite shank
Outsole Polyurethane inserts Stealth Marathon SlipNot FG Vibram Vibra, ECOSTEP

Our Analysis and Test Results

For as long as we can remember, Sidi has been a leading brand in the cycling shoe market. The Italian company makes a variety of footwear for both road and mountain biking as well as moto racing, so it's safe to say they have plenty of experience making high-performance products. Their SD15 trail shoes didn't live up to our expectations, but the Trace 2 went a long way towards restoring our faith in the brand. Through weeks of testing, we didn't find much that this pair of kicks couldn't handle. We put them through the wringer on countless muddy XC rides and even threw in a couple shuttle days for good measure. Overall, our impression was very positive.

Performance Comparison


Luckily, testing mountain bike shoes involves a good amount of...
Luckily, testing mountain bike shoes involves a good amount of shredding. We spent a few weeks hammering the Trace 2 on a variety of terrain.
Photo: Ian Stowe

Power Transfer


As expected in a hard-soled cross-country shoe, the Trace 2 provides great power transfer when you're laying down watts on the bike. The sole is a full foot nylon plate that doesn't noticeably flex under hard sprinting efforts or on long grinding climbs, and the interface between pedal and shoe is rock-solid. When you're cross-eyed, trying to hold a wheel towards the top of a climb, your mind will rest easy knowing that you're not bleeding power with every pedal stroke.

The full-nylon sole interfaces well with the pedal and helps make...
The full-nylon sole interfaces well with the pedal and helps make hard efforts count.
Photo: Ian Stowe

As good as the Trace 2's power transfer is, the nylon sole doesn't quite feel the same as the full carbon sole on a shoe like the Empire VR90. Carbon soled shoes tend to feel a little bit snappier in quick accelerations or full sprint efforts, but they also come at a premium. Unless you're wearing them back to back, it's unlikely that you'll notice the difference between the two, but we would be remiss if we didn't mention it.

Comfort


Unlike most of the racy, hard-soled mountain bike shoes out there that tend to fit long and narrow, Sidi likes to leave a little bit more room in the toe box for the wide-footed among us. The Trace 2 is no different, and as soon as we put them on, we noticed the roomy fit. Our wide-footed primary tester is used to dealing with a few uncomfortable rides in new XC shoes as they break in and form to the shape of his foot, but the Trace 2's fit him like a glove from the get-go. The roomy forefoot means that narrow-footed riders might want to take a look at some of the other XC shoes we reviewed, but we had a couple people with average foot shapes try our test pair of Trace 2's on, and they liked the fit.

Beyond the fit, the Trace 2 maintains its comfortable trend. Two velcro straps and Sidi's Techno-3 boa system make adjusting tension across the top of the foot fast and easy. The Techno-3 system pulls tension evenly across the top of the instep and avoids hotspots and pressure points. On-the-fly tension adjustments are easy to make. Just turn the dial on the outside of the foot to crank everything down for a sprint or hard effort, and pinch buttons on either side of the dial to release the pressure. While wearing these shoes, we came to appreciate hassle-free adjustments before a climb or descent.

Like most XC shoes, the Sidi's insole is a little bit thin and doesn't provide a ton of cushion between your foot and the hard sole. The lack of padding actually helps with power transfer, but it can lead to foot and calf fatigue on long, rough descents. Also, when you're on foot the lack of padding can be a little bit rough on uneven terrain.

Width Options
Sidi makes the Trace 2 in a regular fit for people with narrower and average width feet as well as a Mega fit for riders with wider feet.

They're not hiking boots, but the polyurethane tread inserts and a...
They're not hiking boots, but the polyurethane tread inserts and a decent toe rocker help tackle the off-bike portions of your ride.
Photo: Ian Stowe

Traction and Walkability


Like most hard-soled XC shoes, the Trace 2 gives up a little bit of ground to the trail shoes we tested in its walkability and traction. As much as companies might try, a fully rigid shoe will never walk quite as naturally as a rubber-soled trail shoe with a rigid shank. That said, we think the Trace 2 is pretty good off the bike all things considered.

The nylon sole has polyurethane lugs inserted for traction rather than a full rubber sole. We found that the lugs are low profile enough to make walking on flat, smooth surface easy and fairly natural. When it comes to rough, uneven, or slippery terrain, they still do a good job, but don't stack up with the grippiest shoes we looked at. Two screws at the shoe's toe allow you to replace the toe lugs or install toe spikes for muddy conditions.

True to Sidi's race pedigree, the Trace is one of the lightest shoes...
True to Sidi's race pedigree, the Trace is one of the lightest shoes we tested.
Photo: Ian Stowe

Weight


When we pulled out the kitchen scale to compare weights on our test shoes, we were pleasantly surprised with the Trace 2. At just 392 grams per shoe, without cleats installed, this model is one of the lightest in the test and just four grams heavier than the Editor's Choice Giro Empire VR90.

Despite the low weight, the Trace 2 doesn't feel like a flimsy ultralight shoe. The toe and heel cups are solid enough to provide decent protection from rock strikes on the trail, and the Politex upper material is rigid.

We had a small problem with the inside of the instep strap catching...
We had a small problem with the inside of the instep strap catching on our cranks occasionally.
Photo: Ian Stowe

Durability


With a thick Politex upper and replaceable toe lugs, we think the Trace 2 will last you quite a while. The overall construction is careful, with clean seams and a well-bonded sole. We're a bit concerned with the Techno-3 boa closure system's construction. The small dial has a lot of moving parts that we could see failing or getting clogged with mud over time. Sidi offers an aftermarket replacement for the entire system, but we would hope not to have to replace it too often. If you tend to ride super rocky trails or you hike-a-bike often, we could see the soles and abrasion prone spots on the uppers wearing out faster than other models.

The one real durability issue we had with these shoes during testing involved the instep strap mount on in the inside of the foot. The Techno-3 strap fixes to a little collar on the inside of the foot, and a small flap of the strap inevitably sticks out of the collar. One of our slightly duck-footed testers would occasionally have the little flap catch on his crank mid pedal stroke. Throughout a couple weeks of riding, the flap eventually snapped off after being folded over the crank one too many times. The flap breaking didn't harm the performance of the shoe at all and ultimately solved the problem our tester was having, but regardless it's something to keep an eye out for with these shoes. It's possible to set the strap up to avoid having the excess flap sticking out, but we found that we couldn't tighten the strap properly over our instep if we changed it.

Value


We think the well-rounded Trace 2 represents a solid value. It's not a cheap shoe, but it doesn't come close to the most expensive models we looked at. Wide-footed riders, especially, should give this shoe a look. There are a few models we tested that offer similar performance at a lower price point, however. Due to our issue with the strap mount snagging on the crank, we would caution duck-footed pedalers against this model.

Photo: Ian Stowe

Conclusion


After a disappointing performance from its trail-oriented sibling, the SD15, the Trace 2 reminded us what Sidi has to offer. We enjoyed our time testing these high-performance kicks, and we wouldn't hesitate to throw them on for a few more laps or recommend them to the rider seeking an XC style shoe.

Zach Wick