Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eye-talian Loafers

Endurance mountain bikers/mtb racers and Sidis go together like cats and cat litter. Sure, there are some paddle-footed riders who hate them for their narrowness, and there are always going to be fans of other shoes, like Lakes and Carnacs. But you see battered black Sidis on a lot of riders out there.

I got a pair of Sidi Techno Fires back in the mid-90s and I was hooked. You remember those? Black uppers and orange soles, fishline loop closure? I rode the hell out of those, stringing in new fishline from my fly reel after one of the loops broke. Then I got my first pair of Dominators. Sidis are nice and stiff, and they last and last.

But Sidis have a dark side (get it? They're black! Get it?!). Sidis are treacherously slippery and quite uncomfortable when it comes time for technical hike-a-bike. During my recent trip down to the Copper Canyon brother Phil always called them Italian Loafers, especially after somebody stumbled or fell trying to walk across bare rock on the silly, hard-bottomed little things.

I have two pairs of Dominator 5's. I had one pair that I got in 2000 or so. In the run-up to my first Leadville in Summer of 2005 I got a 2nd pair because #1 was looking really beat. Since then I've been pretty much wearing the old #1's any time it looked like things would be even remotely tough, to save "the good pair" for posterity. Hell, I pretty much wore the #1's unless I couldn't find them.

So the upshot is, they are beat. The soles are worn down to nubbins. The uppers where they join with the sole, especially near the toes, are peeled back and about to breach. I took them to an outfit that resoles hiking boots and they offered to patch things up for $75-80. Well hell, that's a third of a new pair. At retail no less. So it was obvious what I must do. DIY, baby.

Raw Materials: donor Sidis, old tire, Shoe Goo, power drill, self-tapping screws, cute little stuffed doggy (disclosure: the shoes pictured are my #2's. I had already started working on the #1's when it occurred to me that I should take a picture, so I used the ones I hadn't messed with. Yet.)

At first I considered using something like plastic milk jug material to cover over the toe patches. But then my brain kicked in. Why not use something that isn't slippery? Eureka!

So I dug out an old worn out wire-bead WTB Motoraptor (God rest its soul. Sole? Soul?). I cut a toe patch. I glued it on. I duct-taped the hell out of it so that it would stick where I had placed it. 

Tough Sidis in their duct-tape cocoons, ready to emerge as tough Sidi butterflies

Then I looked at the sole (soul?) of the shoe and decided, if a little bit of mountain bike tire material is good, more is better. Slather on the shoe goo, cut a piece of tire, stick it on there, see if there's someplace where a screw can be driven in to keep it in place. Tape it up. Leave it to cure. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The final product, tough and walkable (I hope anyway)

I'll report at some point after I've had an epic day or two with lots of strolling through the rubble that I love to carry my bike over.


Ed said...

Way to go Tom, I like your creativity.

I think jj's Sidi's are 11 yrs old and still serviceable although she finally did get a new pair this season.


Gary B. said...

Good job, Tom. Shoe Goo is amazing stuff! I've used it for all kinds of repairs and modifications. And, Sidis are by far the longest lasting shoe I've ever used. I actually think they may be the best buy out there, if you ride a lot. I just got a pair from a racer friend who ordered some (pro deal) and they were too big for him, but fit me fine. I won't use 'em for hike-a-bike rides though. My new favorite for hike-a-biking and riding are Pearl Izumi X-Alps. The racer type shoes just don't have the the stability for hiking, even if you fix the sole (soul), so it isn't so slick.

Tom Purvis said...

I had a pair of the PI X-Alps ordered, then I checked some reviews and saw where people liked them because they are so wide. I hate a shoe that my foot swims around in, or where I have to wear 3 pairs of socks. Maybe it'd work, but I'm not rolling the dice on those--I want a chance to check them out. Glad you're liking yours though!

Carney said...