Shoes for Godzilla Ballet Riders
Sidi’s Defender 20
GOOSED Bullet Points
-Single ratchet closure system works flawlessly
-Sticky rubber on a stiff sole is great for on and off bike performance
-Simple, understated good looks that will last
Sidi was founded in 1960 by craftsman and avid rider Dino Signori. Dino’s first pairs of performance footwear were manufactured by hand in Italy, adhering to traditional methods, and finished with a stamp of his initials “SiDI.” Today, Sidi cycling shoes are synonymous with quality construction. The Defender 20 came about last year when Sidi sought to build a shoe that would work for a very wide range of riders needs. We strapped a pair of these to our feet to see if Sidi could design a shoe that would work for rugged trail adventure riding, long grinding cross country miles, and all the off the bike steps in between.
Tech Features: The Defender 20 is a mountain-specific shoe that is designed with both on the bike performance and versatility in mind. The upper is built with a synthetic material called Politex that uses several overlapping layers of PVC and fabric that are compressed together to offer strong resistance to laceration, stretching and fading. The Defender 20 uses Sidi’s Techno 3 fit system that dials in fit along the entire length of the shoe, adapting the upper to the shape of the foot for a customized fit. The closures are held together by an all new proprietary Sidi Wire material that is non-binding for on-the-fly adjustments. Like most SIDI small parts, the Tecno 3 system is serviceable and replaceable. The sole is Sidi’s Outdoor Rubber, which provides grip on variable trails, and mates to a molded and reinforced heel cup to keep your heel in place. Our size 45 test shoes tipped the scales at 996 grams with Shimano SPD cleats mounted. The Defender 20 sells for $225 and can be purchased at any Sidi dealer.
Field Test Results: When we set out to review cycling shoes, we expect to compromise certain creature comforts in the name of performance, or vice versa. We know that super-light XC shoes that are incredibly stiff and efficient on the bike will also make you feel like a baby giraffe trying to learn to walk on a sheet of glare ice. And those clod-hopper flat-pedal shoes that are so comfortable off the bike will leave you pining for that extra bit of power from the upstroke if only you’d chosen to ride clips. The defender 20 skips both of those pitfalls and delivers on a shoe that’s stiff and efficient, with a firm sole that feels like it’s delivering every bit of power to the pedals. The upper is form fitting and molds to the foot nicely, a feature that’s even more noticeable with the easy-to-use, single-buckle wire closure. Just a quick spin of this “buckle” dial cinches the shoes closed with no noticeable binding in the wire, or bunches in the tongue, which stays neatly in place even on long rides. Thanks to the molded heel cup, you don’t need to run the closure system overly tight to keep the heel in place. The insole is thin and firm, because Sidi relies on the excellent contours inside the shoe to cradle your foot, not simply put a cushy sponge under it for comfort. The outsole is aggressive enough to provide off the bike traction as well as any other shoe we’ve tried on rough terrain, even compared to flat pedal shoes with sticky rubber. The Defender has an airy ventilation system that makes it a solid choice for summer heat, but makes it less than water resistant. Overall, the construction is rugged but refined. Well made, but not overbuilt.
It’s rare that we find a product that ticks all the boxes for such a wide range of riders. It’s even more impressive when that product isn’t the most expensive one on the planet. At $225, the Defender certainly isn’t a bargain shoe, unless you take into account that we’ve seen other Sidis in our collection last the better part of a decade. The Defender 20s left us feeling we didn’t compromise a thing, uphill or down, on the bike or hike-a-bike. They use a smart blend of features and top-notch construction to deliver all the goods you need on the mountain, and we expect them to be on our feet for many trail miles to come.