Near the beginning of January, after much reading of reviews and technical details (not so much for weight, etc., I’m not that technical of a rider, although I will admit that I can be a gear snob now and then), I splurged for a new pair of Sidi Wire Vent Carbon Road bike shoes. These shoes come in at the top of Sidi’s road shoe food chain, costing a small fortune, but every single review I came across spoke to the comfort level and with the ability to replace individual parts, you’re going to have these shoes for a very, very long time. Add to that an adjustable heel cup (more on that coming), and a vent in the bottom of the shoe that you can open/close, all my other shoe considerations faded away.
This last feature might not seem to be worth the large price tag, but us ‘bent riders, especially the more reclined, may have found out that while vents all over the top and sides of the shoe are appreciated on a hot day, the bottom of your shoe is facing forward, and it has no vent holes to let air in. So, considering this, if you’ve ever experienced hot foot riding your recumbent, well, you’ll probably want to play with your cleat placement, check your shoe tightness, choice of socks, and then get these shoes. I’m talking up this feature, but in reality, I have the bottom vent closed for winter riding still, I will report back this summer. Also, if I choose to leave my WGX fairing on the trike through the summer (strongly considering), this feature may be slightly diminished, as the fairing will be blocking that blast of air before it gets a chance to ram through the air vent on the shoe.
In terms of the adjustable heel cup, and overall comfort, well, let me provide some background: Just about a year ago, I was experiencing some pretty horrible insertional achilles tendonitis, leading to a protruding lump on the back of my left heel. I’ve several thoughts on origin of this, one of the contributing factors being the trike riding, combined with more pressure from my abnormal walking, and general tightening of my achilles tendons because of whatever ataxia I have. Anyhow, I sought xrays and physical therapy to see if I could a) figure this out and b) fix it. Well, there were no real answers for figuring it out, it simply was there, the Dr.’s and xrays didn’t offer any answers other than, yeah, it is not great. In terms of fixing it, well, all the norm, rest, ice, elevation (compression was left out), and I started physical therapy, involving stretching, massaging of the area, and my intro to Kinesiology tape. I started seeing some improvement with the k-tape, I then decided to go for a ride on the trike, with the k-tape still on. Actually, I went to a couple of these rides, it was the last one that I came home to find that I has developed a blister over the lump on the back of my heel, then wore right through it. Not good.
The blister, being in a very difficult place, turned itself into a full on pressure ulcer, entering me into wound care (more on this delight, later), which lasted through the spring. After much ado, the thing finally healed up and I was anxious to get back to my relatively new trike riding again. Put the bike shoes on…. nope, still hurts. Not to be stopped, I setup the trike on a trainer in my garage, and found, although not ideal, I could pedal while wearing my crocs, without the heal straps. After a couple weeks, this grew tiresome and left me wanting to step up the game (and leave behind the garage scenery), so I attempted modifying the bike shoes I had at the time, by cutting out the back portion, so, the swollen back of my heel had nothing to put pressure on it. Success!
Pretty genius, I know, although there were multiple times where my foot would slip entirely out of the shoe on account of having no backing to hold it in, which was highly obnoxious, especially in the middle of a stupid steep hill climb. Over a thousand logged miles later, reaching my limit of annoyance with this, and noting much reduction in the protruding heel lump, and re-gaining the ability to wear most of my other regular shoes, I started researching new bike shoes. Doing my nerd thing, pouring over everything I could find online, taking the next step, I found a local bike shop (westernbikeworks.com) that carried this shoe, went in to try it on, and made the jump. At home, I tweaked the adjustable heel cups until it felt just write, no pressure, at least at rest, and walking around the house, the true test would be going for a ride.
First ride and I knew my purchase was completely justified. In fact, I stopped half-way through the ride to call Greta and proclaim my excitement at my heel not hurting, at all, and how great of a feeling it was, no pain, and to feel like my feet were not plotting their next great shoe escape as soon as I started a hard pedal.
Although probably the most money I will pay for any pair of shoes, ever (reason I didn't give a full 10 overall score), these Sidi Wire Vent Carbon Road Shoe's are AMAZING. To negate the initial purchase price, all (or the majority at least) of the parts that are subject to regular wear and tear, are independently replaceable. In summary, these should last you a very long time. Also, for me personally, I can attest to a full 10 out of 10 score for comfort level.