Bicycle Quarterly press review

Reprinted with kind permission from Bicycle Quarterly No. 50 (www.bikequarterly.com) ©2015 Bicycle Quarterly
Dromarti Sportivo SPD Shoes

Cost: $ 317
Weight (size 43, with SPD cleats): 790 g
Test duration: 2000 km (1200 miles)
Sample provided by: Dromarti
Country of manufacture: Taiwan
Availability: www.dromarti.com

I love my Dromarti SPD shoes. I rarely am this enamored with a product, but the Dromartis combine the good looks, comfort and durability of a hand-made shoe with the performance of an SPD mountain bike shoe. I've always admired hand-made Italian shoes. I own a pair of dress shoes with Vibram soles that we call my "geologist shoes", because we envision an Italian geologist wearing these together with a tailored, but casual, suit as he examines a gravel pit. Those shoes were an indulgence when I bought them, but twenty years later, they still are comfortable and look good during the rare occasions when I dress up. Most of the time, I leave my house on a bike, and that is why the Dromarti Sportivo SPD shoes have become my favorite shoes. They also are handmade (now in Taiwan rather than Italy, because the quality is better). They also fit my slightly narrow feet perfectly - similar to my Sidis. The Dromartis were comfortable from the first time I wore them. They don't look "high tech", yet don't try to hide that they are cycling shoes. They are unpretentious - fine leather cycling shoes, nothing more and nothing less. It's easy to dismiss beautifully made, traditional products as "wannabe attire", so our samples were tested rigorously. I took them on a recent trip to Japan, where they were my only shoes during a six-day tour of Hokkaido (which included plenty of walking). Then they went on half of a Super Randonnée, with 300 km of relentless climbing. This was followed by a three-day ride through a typhoon that included a night-time hike when

we carried our bikes, cyclocross-style, down a rocky mountain trail. I've also worn them commuting and for hill intervals. The shoes are comfortable even after 20+ hours in the saddle. The soles are soft enough for comfortable walking and standing, yet they are stiff enough for spirited riding. Only once, at the end of a 4-hour all-out ride to Mount Rainier did the ball of one foot hurt slightly. I was concerned, but the problem never recurred, so it's perhaps unfair to blame the shoes. That said, for racing or if you plan to set a personal best in PBP, you may want shoes with stiffer soles. For touring and general riding, though, the Dromartis seem to provide the perfect balance of stiffness and comfort. I have walked short distances in Sidis, and it was less than ideal. The Dromartis were

comfortable even at the end of a day's sightseeing on foot in Sapporo. The SPD cleats are recessed enough that they don't "click" on the pavement. The lugged soles offer plenty of traction during hikes. Only on wet floors are they a little slippery, as are all cycling shoes I have tried. The laces allow adjusting the volume of the shoes, but they obviously cannot be adjusted "on the move" like modern ratchet systems. On the plus side, my feet don't get sweaty in the Dromartis. My Dromartis have been through a lot, and they no longer look pristine. Unlike artificial leather, the patina of scuffs and scrapes adds to the beauty, and a little shoe polish makes them presentable again. They are expensive, but if they ever stop making them, I'll buy a pair or two to put aside, since I don't want to be without them. - JH

Bicycle Quarterly is a magazine about the culture, history and technology of cycling. The quarterly magazine is best known for its inspirational ride stories and its in-depth product tests. Whether its testing a carbon bike by riding it 600 km over 11 mountain passes, many of them on gravel, or chasing the cherry blossom season across the Japanese Alps, Bicycle Quarterly brings a unique perspective to every aspect of cycling. For more information, see www.bikequarterly.com

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