Sidi Defender All-Mountain Shoe - Review

Mar 9, 2018
by Richard Cunningham  
Sidi Defender shoes


Sidi sets the standard for comfort and efficiency with its road racing and cross-country shoes, but the legendary Italian cobblers have yet to capture the imaginations of all-mountain and enduro riders. The new mid-height Defender is intended to do just that. Admittedly, Sidi's expertise does not extend into the realm of flat pedals, so the Defender is targeted at technically adept riders who clip in. It's constructed in earnest to merge Sidi's technical know-how with the realities of gavity-focused trail riding.

Beginning with that, the molded rubber outsole is generously lugged to provide off-the-bike traction, and the toe-box area is curved to facilitate walking.
Defender Details:

• Purpose: All-mountain/trail riding
• Construction: Synthetic Politex leather upper. Lugged rubber outsole
• Set-back cleat placement
• Molded external heel cup
• Techno 3 ratchet lacing system
• Sizes: whole numbers, 41 through 48
• Colors: Black/yellow, Black/Orange
• Weight: 820 grams, (verified, size 42)
• MSRP: $219.99 USD
• Contact: Sidi global or Sidi USA
The cleat slots are set well back to take the stress off of the calf muscles while descending. Sidi ensures pedaling efficiency with a molded external heel cup and a moderately profiled "S" shape to the sole of the shoe. The Defender sole has an internal stiffener, but unlike its carbon-reinforced XC racing siblings, it is designed to flex just enough to mute the pounding that high-speed gravity trails exert on the rider's feet. To that end, Sidi also includes a padded insert that is molded for each size shoe. Defenders are available in black with either orange or yellow accents with an MSRP of $219.99 USD.

Sidi Defender shoes
Techno 3 ratcheting lace system and a padded mesh tongue provide even pressure over the sensitive mid-foot.
Sidi Defender shoes
A molded heel cup prevents the foot from wagging inside the shoe with less lace tension.

Features and Performance

Having spent many years clipped into both profiled (with an S-shaped sole) and flat cycling shoes, I can say without question that profiled shoes are the most efficient of the two. Flat soles work best with flat pedals. I don't profess, however, that anyone should ride a shoe that they don't like and there are plenty of clipped-in flat-shoe shredders out there to prove the point. If you do presently ride a profiled shoe, or you are thinking of switching over, there are a few design aspects that are critical to trail riders, most of which, Sidi has handily addressed with the Defender.

Stiffness and a snug fit are important, because you can relax your foot while you are laying down big power and use only major muscle groups instead of every muscle in your legs to turn the cranks. Trouble is, walking and scaling boulders is part of trail riding, so an off-road shoe like the Sidi Defender has to flex, and it also needs to be shaped more like a walking shoe and less like a road racing design.

Sidi accomplishes both with a curved "rocker" and extra flex in the toe section, and a molded heel cup. The rocker and molded cup prevent the heel from lifting out of the shoe and smooth out each step, while a more flexible stiffener in the sole maintains a moderate S-profile while absorbing some of the punishment delivered through the pedals.
Sidi Defender shoes
The rubber compound grips both aluminum and natural terrain well, and the cleat placement is set back in the spirit of shred.

High speed runs over rugged terrain, g-outs and jumps put an extraordinary amount of stress on the calf muscles and hamstrings. Offsetting the cleats closer to the mid-point of the foot relieves much of that stress, and the Defender's cleat pad has been moved back from the more traditional cross-country placement. I found I could easily match the cleat location of my Specialized 2FO flat shoes with the Sidis.

Sidi Defender shoes
Padded mid-height upper offers extra bash protection during those "oh sh*t" moments.
Sidi Defender shoes
Molded insert is wonderfully comfortable, and doesn't retain heat.

Finally, while road and cross-country riders prefer a shoe that is snug everywhere around the foot, and all-mountain shoe needs a little more room, especially in the toe box to let the foot spread out in response to large amplitude impacts. Sidi pairs a form-fitting heel cup with a molded insert to stabilize the shoe around the foot and added some room in the toe box. The effect is that my feet felt planted on the pedals without the sense that there were constricted. Some of that comfort was a product of Sidi's "Techno 3" monofilament ratchet lacing, which collects the foot against the heel cup, midsole insert, and the padded uppers without creating pressure points.

Sidi Defender shoe
The Defender's tread pattern played well with Shimano SPD pedals and the rubber compound grips well when wet.

I have mixed feelings about the heavily lugged outsoles that dominate the profiled off-road shoe genre. As long as you are on the bike, the only thing that is important about the soles is whether they grip the pedals and how well the design facilitates clipping in and out. In almost every case, a flatter sole is more consistent clipping in or out. Off the bike, however, flat soles pretty much slip and slide on every natural surface except dry rock and hero dirt. When I am sessioning steeps or boulder drops, I hate having to mind my steps in my flat shoes. During this Sidi test period, I've been reminded of how simple that activity could be wearing soles with proper tread. I never have issues clipping in or out of the Defenders, so they are a win/win for me. Flat or lugged? It's an individual call.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesDefenders are Sidi, so it's a given that they're going to be expensive and comfortable - Sidi haven't lost their touch. If you have the cash to burn, the Defender should be a step up for technical trail riders who put in the miles and spend more time on natural terrain than flow trails. I've found them especially handy in the mountains this Winter.RC







67 Comments

  • + 24
 I got a pair of Sidi XC shoes in 2006 that are still going strong. The up front cost is marginally higher than some other shoes out there but they more than pay for themselves with the life you get out of them.
  • + 4
 I totally agree. When the ratchet system on my 2012 sidi xc shoes got damaged they offer replacement parts for almost all the parts of their shoes, for a reasonable price too.
  • - 6
flag Poulsbojohnny (Mar 9, 2018 at 12:05) (Below Threshold)
 I stopped reading at $200+

I wear SIDI cycle boots and swear by them. however, they are calf height, heel reinforced, articulated, and fully armored. And they go for about $200 and up. I can't see spending the same amount for what is literally a quarter of that boot for the same price.
  • + 3
 I got mine in 2008 and while the sole tread is totally worn and the uppers are full of scuffs and scratches, both shoes are structurally intact. Glue and stitching will probably last forever. They may be expensive, but they last so long they are actually excellent value for money. Glad to see that they finally made a model that is not XC race oriented and I hope that their newer models are as well made as their older ones.
  • + 17
 I like that they actually have some propper tread on the bottom. Sometimes we ride trail that don't have strava segments and require special instruction to Find. Having a Shoe that wont have you slipping and sliding isn't a bad thing when being in stealth mode through the trees. I also checked their website... They come in a all black version if you arent feeling the pumkin eater theme. They are a little bulky looking and so I feel the Bontrager Rythm still stays as my top clipless shoe. But hey these are pretty sweet.
  • + 32
 Hard to be stealth when you sound like a fucking tap dancer.
  • + 8
 @Boardlife69: well... If your Loam causes a tap dancing sound I'm gonna go ahead and assume its either not Loam.... Or its really cold where you are lol
  • + 1
 Where did you see an all black version? Both the global and usa site only show the orange or yellow.
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69: if you run times or cbros you are quite stealth
  • + 7
 @2bigwheels: We have rocks. Which reminds me of a new piece I just composed, Its called "These rocks give me the flat pedal Blues". And a ONE, And a TWO, And a I'll shoe myself out now.
  • + 1
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: I meant just more black main and black souls. yeah there's a yellow accent but still better than the whole soul of shoe being orange.

www.sidi.com/en/products/cycling/shoes/outdoor/mtb-ghibli
  • + 8
 Can any shoe manufacturer please explain to me why flat pedal shoes don't have similar features?...... (apart from the sole) ie snagging laces on the undergrowth, breaking laces, crap getting into the top of the shoe are regular bugbares with all the flats I've used.
  • + 3
 Adidas Terrex high tops are killer for flat pedals, plus they're all black not goofy orange, d3o ankle pads, comfortable ankle wrap.
  • + 1
 @Beez177: I have a pair, but they still have laces (snapped 3 so far, UK wet weather), and the inner ankles are now rapidly disintegrating due to rubbing with the cranks. 10 months use. Best I tried so far though.............
  • + 2
 Asking the same question myself. Probably the average buyer of flats doesn't need that kind of a shoe and the only big enduro name on flats is sam hill so it isn't much demand for such shoes. The most high tech flat shoe that i've heard of is the OWN (onlywhatsnecessary) tho still laced.
  • + 1
 @wobbem: weird? I've had none of the problems you listed. The lace bungee keeps the laces out of the way. If you're wearing out the ankles, maybe place your feet out a mm or 2??
  • + 1
 The quick realese / boa is used on clipless shoes for two reasons.
Tighting up your shoes before a sprint.
Loosing up the shoes while on long rides (4-5hrs) because your feet start swelling.

Most people riding flats generally do not race or go for 100 milers.

Regardless you dont need a flat shoe to be that toght because it is not clipped in to a pedal. Can’t pull up.
  • + 2
 @wobbem: What about 5.10 Karvers? The velcro flap across the laces protects them from snags, and they are 'high-top' and have ankle protection. I've also found that wearing socks that are longer and can be pushed down reduce the chance of leaf litter getting in.
  • + 1
 @vid1998: good shoe!
  • + 6
 These definitely justify the money - anyone that knows the Sidi brand from any form of bikes knows you get quality. the last pair of XC shoes I got 8 seasons out of. Hopefully available in more colours then it is a winner
  • + 5
 Same here, my last pair of Sidis lasted a little over 12 seasons.. Durability and comfort are undeniable!
  • + 3
 9 yrs on a pair of sidi dragons here, xc, am enduro ...everything. I bought a pair of 5/10 falcons two months ago, I wear them twice, good for PRM's, back on my old sidis. I want to change and I cannot justify it to my self. F**k you Sidi,
who wants something that holds for ever!!
  • + 7
 When you gotta direct traffic at 10 and shred at 12. Why the goofy orange soles???
  • + 1
 have you seen some of the xc weenies kit? These shoes are subtle!
  • + 2
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: yeah but these are all mtn. not xc dork!?
  • + 2
 SIDI... "have yet to capture the imaginations of all-mountain and enduro riders" because they only made racing shoes at racing prices. Great to see them entering this market and giving us more options. I had a pair of their mtn bike race shoes many years ago and they were quality made, very comfortable and lasted FOREVER
  • + 1
 I'm curious how the soles will wear over a season of riding? I love Sidi road shoes, but I had a pair of Sidi XC shoes and the soles lasted a couple of weeks in Whistler. To be fair, they weren't designed for riding in Whistler, but I'm hoping these shoes are.
  • + 1
 Thanks for the review Richard. I've always liked Sidi's quality but I've found in the past the Sidi shoes were too narrow in the toe box for my foot. Would consider the extra room in the toe box generous enough for a wider foot? For context I find the Shimano M200 too narrow in the toe box for my foot. Also, would you consider the sole to be grippy enough for damper climates such as the PNW?
  • + 1
 I'd like to know how durable and "sticky" the rubber soles are. How long were these shoes tested for and how about the hike-a-bike sections? Did the rubber get cut to shreds? Looking at mutli-day events where riding and hiking are a definite so would like to know the durability and stickiness (as rain is a given and rocks and roots are a given).
  • + 1
 I've had a pair of their XC shoes forever - their "Mega" range is truly the only SPD shoe I've found that is wide enough for my Flintstone Feet. But I stopped wearing them because the lugged sole was hard plastic. Wearing them was like ice skating if you needed to walk on wet rock or wood. The Defenders look great rubber sole- might spring for them if they come in Mega sizes......
  • + 1
 I bought a pair and have about 10 rides on them , at first i was concerned about the higher ankle cover bothering me . Has not been the case at all . Used them yesterday in a continuous drizzle in rocks and sand with a fair amount of hike a bike , they worked great without any slippage . I would absolutley by them again . Extremely comfortable . I have owned drako carbon sidi (hated them ) my favorites till now have been dominators , these actually feel more comfortable to me ... just my 2 cents
  • + 1
 What size did you go for? I mean if they are "normal" in size or are they on the smaller side?
  • + 1
 I've used SiDi since the '80s, and I'm a big fan.
I wore my GTXs all the way down, and these shoes replaced them.

My issues...
The sole flexes too much on climbs, or any time you really get on it.
The buckle and top strap needs to be mounted higher up on the upper, to keep your heel locked in. Compare to SD-15s... They fit much better.
The tongue needs to be longer, to make it easier to get in, and out.

Pros:
The best ratchet in the business, much better than Boa.
Good traction on trails.
Really durable uppers, made of recycled plastics.
  • + 4
 $220 isnt even that unattainable of a price point for a high end shoe, its good to hear that you get what you pay for.
  • - 3
 I wouldn't even wear these ugly shoes if someone payed me 220$.
WHAT ARE THOOOOSE
  • + 6
 New yeezys
  • + 5
 Fugly, like Big Baller Brand!
  • + 3
 Wow, Sidi shoes that don't require you to be spandexed out from hear to toe--finally.
  • + 3
 These sound amazing to me, but I can't very well have orange treads with a yellow frame, come on!
  • + 2
 they have a yellow version mate
  • + 2
 Defenders are available in black with either orange or yellow accents.
www.sidi.com/files/prodotti_ciclo/77_306_varianti_gallery_pop_MTB_Defender_BlackYellow.jpg
  • + 3
 @scheichaladin: I should do more reading and less skimming. Dreams come true.
  • + 1
 @literally: I think you missed where the orange includes the sole as well.
  • + 2
 I wish manufacturer's wouldn't use the term "synthetic leather". It's either animal or it's not so don't put leather in the description when there isn't any.
  • + 1
 Yeah, Doc martens make shoes with vegan "leather". Definitely not leather. Marketing.
  • + 2
 You must be one of those people who's upset about the word almond milk having milk in it so entire countries have to make laws so that products are called almond drink or soy kream, etc.
  • + 1
 @colincolin:
I've never gone near almond milk, I'm not a hippie.

But when buying footwear I often want leather, and it makes my purchase easier when descriptions are clear.
  • + 0
 @DC1988: Oh tell me more about how manly you are still drinking breast milk as an adult.
  • + 1
 i'm still rocking a pair of sidi doms from 2010. they look beat AF, but they're still working, and comfortable. sidi makes a great product, money well spent.
  • + 2
 Ugly. I've owned a bunch of Sidi's over the years. They've missed the market
  • - 1
 Really? they've got a couple of things going for them IMO - the cleat placement for one. Why do all my SPD style shoes try and put the cleat in the same position as a pair of road shoes.? Sometimes efficiency of pedalling isn't everything.
Second - the sole looks like it wraps around nicely - hopefully more durable.
That's on top of the dial up boa style system (that they've used for years now), and SIDI near legendary durability.

Maybe they've missed YOUR market, but these are the first SIDIs that i'd ever considered. So they've got MY market pretty good.
  • + 1
 @nouseforaname: if pedalling efficiency isn't everything, just use flats Smile
  • + 2
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: If clips were only good for pedalling efficiency, then why do the majority WC DH pros use them??
  • + 3
 I like how they're ghastly.
  • + 2
 The edges of sole look like gum boots.
  • - 1
 I have been a long time Sidi owner. Lately I had 3 pairs that imploded. All 3 had the sole deliaminate. Sidi is over priced for the low quality and only a one year warranty.
  • + 1
 Another dope shoe from sidi Viva italia
  • + 1
 I want laces I hate the boa system
  • + 1
 Love SIDI cycling shoes.
When will AM shoes for women available?
  • + 1
 kinda like Tomac's Duegis but next gen
  • + 1
 I just bought a pair of Shimano AM9's and now I want these too!
  • + 1
 Those look pretty fly
  • + 5
 ...for a white Guy.
  • + 1
 You know it's kind of hard Just to get along today Our subject isn't cool But he fakes it anyway
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: They may not Have the Features, they may not have style
And every time you ride them
They loosen up the dials...
  • + 2
 They fit speedplay, right out the gate You know they won't be at retail anyway
  • + 1
 Beetle crushers.

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.049171
Mobile Version of Website