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Sidi has been continually refining the pedal and rider connection through innovation and high-end cycling shoe design for the past 40 years. Producing premium footwear for both pedal-powered and throttle-twisting riders, the Italian brand is known for its iconic style, high performance, and sumptuous comfort by professional and recreational cyclists the world over.
The Dragon model has been Sidi's best mountain bike shoe for what feels like forever and has been continually evolving with the changing needs of the sport. The Dragon 5 is the latest iteration of the shoe that sits in the mid-pack of the comprehensive eleven shoe range from Sidi. So is the Dragon 5 a shoe just for the mountain bike racing snakes? And how does it compare with the best gravel bike shoes?
Design and aesthetics
The material used by Sidi for the red upper is of course Italian-made. The Eco-friendly synthetic leather has been carefully selected to offer riders protection from trail debris and also the weather with its excellent water repellency. The Microfibra Technopro is, you guessed it, a microfiber Polyurethane also specifically chosen to keep the Dragon shoe lightweight (740g for the pair in size 42) and still provide ample support and stability around your foot, not to mention the most amount of protection I have found in an XC style shoe. You will notice that there are plenty of ventilation holes on both the inside and outside of the shoe and a mesh tongue to allow your feet to breathe.
The Dragon shoe really looks like they mean business. From the rubber toe shroud to the stiff heel cup, both are reinforced to give you protection from the rigors of off-road racing where contact is inevitable when your elbows are out and you are hunting for the podium.
Closure duties are taken care of by using the Soft Instep Closure System from Sidi. A wide curved strap is combined with a thermo-formed EVA pad to evenly distribute the pressure around the instep area. It is adjustable from both sides to enable the center of the strap to sit perfectly whether you have a high or low instep. The idea is to eliminate the need to use a high step extender. This closure system is just another of the features that are replaceable on this shoe.
The combination of the dual Techno 3 dials and a velcro adjust the fit of the shoe along the entire shoe to closely match the shape of your foot. The wire system is a proprietary design that not only allows for easy on the fly adjustments but even the smallest parts of the system are made to be serviceable and replaceable.
The Sidi MTB Dragon 5 SRS are available in a slightly toned down all-black option or the bright racing red colorway seen here. With sizing including half sizes from 39 through to 48 and also offered for the wider footed riders with the Mega version, you should be easily able to find the right slipper to fit.
I mentioned before that the shoe is akin to the automotive marque with the prancing pony. But I am not just any old Ferrari, these feel like the closest I will ever get to slipping into their Formula 1 car. Stiff, focused and fast looking even when sitting still. Born for racing comes with its own pros and cons. Sharp looks and stiff handling are what you need to deliver the best power figures through to the pedals. That is where the Sidi Dragon 5 comes in.
So with all the stiffness and performance does that mean that they are uncomfortable? On the contrary all thanks to the closure system they hug your foot perfectly and maintain their comfort whilst you are on the bike for hours. The neat red button releases the buckle to a handy position allowing you to turn it easily whilst on the bike. There is not a single bit of material that bunches up or rubs, just a secure and comfortable fit. The heel cup is the best I have worn, it's supportive and it really grabs hold of my heel locking my foot into the shoe. The padded tongue is a delight in what is the most sensitive area of my feet. The sizing of the Dragon 5 is what I would call sporty and a slim fit but my toes don't touch the end and there is no gap at the heel when I stand on tiptoes, so no need for me to size up.
The power transfer is as you might expect, direct. Zero flex in the carbon sole means unrivaled power delivery. With the stiffness, the comfortable and secure fit you can be sure that all of your ponies are passed through to the pedal and crank arm. The downside is this makes for an abnormal walk with the toe box not really flexing much at all.
I love the idea of the replaceable parts of the shoe. It just isn't something you see enough of with off-road shoes. When the price is nudging in the hundreds this feature means that you are looking at a product that will outlive many of the competition and it will go some way to softening the blow on your bank balance by not needing to replace the whole shoe once just the sole tread has worn out. That said, tales of the SRS tread blocks coming loose are rife, not that I suffered from any issues.
This shoe has my own opinion divided. Whilst it is stiff, fast, light and comfortable but not really the most versatile gravel shoe and I don't think it is suited to party pace gravel and bikepacking adventures. If your rides are relaxed and often incorporate walking or extended hike-a-bike sections, the rigidity of the Dragon 5 might be a step too far. The shoe is made for competition and wouldn't be out of place in a gravel, cyclocross or XC mountain bike race.
If your rides are between the tape and all about transferring watts down then these are great shoes. The design features and the fit really are both top-of-the-tree stuff more than worthy of its price tag. This is a premium off-road race shoe of the highest level but I feel it just isn't for everyone. Trail and gravel riders are looking for something a little more relaxed in styling and offering a more versatile option with flex in the toe to allow freedom for when you take to walking.
Tech Specs: Sidi MTB Dragon 5 SRS shoe
- Color: All Black, Red
- Retention: Dual Techno 3 wire and Velcro closure
- Uppers: Synthetic leather
- Outsole: SRS Carbon composite
- Weight: 740g a pair Men’s size 42
- Size: EU 39-48 with half sizes
- Price: $425 / £299 / €289