A month of Giro-inspired content on RCUK provided an Italian direction to May’s test kit, so the Dromarti Race shoe seemed an obvious choice.
Hand made in Italy, its retro styling called to mind an age when Italians ruled the corsa rosa, and provided an intriguing contrast with the latest designs, exhibited on the site last month by the none-more-Italian Liquigas-Cannondale edition of Sidi’s Ergo 3.
To business. Modern or traditional, a cycling shoe must meet the same requirements: a secure fit, comfort, breathability in the upper and stiffness in the sole. How did Dromarti’s retro styled offering hold up against contemporary designs?
Laces have largely disappeared from modern cycling shoes as a closure mechanism, but are a fundamental aspect of the Race shoe’s appearance. We’d give them a thumbs up for style, but cede the edge in function to the assortment of Velcro straps, buckles. dial-operated cords etc that have replaced the humble shoe lace on modern cycling footwear.
The considered padding of the tongue absorbed the pressure of the lace well enough, but the natural movement of the foot while pedaling loosened it below the bow; not dramatically, and over such a period of time that stopping to retighten the lace wasn’t an inconvenience (the café stop felt a little more justified), but in the battle for a consistently tight fit, modern closures have the advantage.
Where the Race shoe scored heavily was in the superbly fitted heel cup, which gave a firm grip to the rear of the foot that proved especially rewarding on the upstroke. We were also seriously impressed by the comfort of the soft leather interior. The insole, and the side of the shoe, especially the section below the ankle, felt little short of luxurious.
Ventilation on a leather shoe is achieved through perforation, and on the Race shoe the holes are unambiguously large. During the recent warm spell, they proved effective and our feet remained cool and dry. In wet conditions, cold and wet is likely to be the order of the day, perhaps even with shoe covers.
Finally, the sole. Carbon has become de rigeur on more expensive contemporary cycling shoes, and purely in terms of stiffness, those we’ve tested outperformed the Race shoe’s nylon underside. That said, not everyone enjoys the sensation of an unyielding platform (particularly after several hours) and the Dromarti’s sole was by no means soft.
If you’re seeking a beautifully crafted shoe for summer cycling of a type where the pace of your progress is a secondary consideration to the style with which it is achieved, the Dromarti Race shoe should be on your list. If, however, race performance is your primary goal, a modern shoe with a more sophisticated closure mechanism and a carbon sole is perhaps a more appropriate choice.
The Dromarti Race shoe comes in black with an elegant red interior and stitching (sizes 40 to 47), or a beautiful, highly-polished brown ‘Classic’ version (sizes 37 to 47).
They sell from Dromarti’s website for £163.39.