Like every other cycling influ-blogger, I’ve bought some cheap veloshizzle on Aliexpress so I can write a post (and make a video) about it.
In this case, I’ve been splashing the renmimbi on a razzle dazzle pair of road cycling shoes.
The only thing is, they’re not cheap. And I’m hoping they’re not shizzle.
In this post, you will receive in your eyeholes:
- my first impression of the shoes when they arrived;
- my second impressions after some real world testing (if that’s what we call me wearing them for a bit); and finally
- some thoughts on value, if you should buy them, all that good stuff.
You Mentioned A Video?
I did. And you can watch it here:
So What Are These Shoes?
These are the Sidebike SV-08 Pro Rd carbon cycling shoes. I assume the carbon bit refers to the sole. The upper, as we cobblers call them, are not. Carbon.
(Also I’m guessing that Rd is short for ‘road’).
My main priority when ordering them was aesthetics.
So I went with glorious gold ones. Which I think aligns well with my cycling prowess.
I am truly blessed to own a pair of flat feet.
I picked the SV-08s, that catchy name gets me every time, because the description referred to them having a wider fit. Hopefully sufficient to accommodate my dainty slabs of meat.
Finally, I wanted to try something a bit different.
My current road shoes, a pair of Specialized Elites, had two velcro straps and a ratchety type thing on each shoe.
As I perused the fine footcrackers offered on AliExpress, I was drawn to the dial-tightened lacing on the SV-08s.
(I’ve since found the Sidebike website and here’s the page for the SV08s).
You probably didn’t click on this post for my thoughts on packaging. But here we are and that’s where we start.
The packaging, with these air-filled, plastic sausage sheets, is amazing. My podiatric purchase has traveled the 5,932 miles from Guangdong in luxurious and protective comfort. The SV-08s arrived in pristine condition, albeit 18 days after I ordered them.
Upon extracting the shoes from their glorious sheath, the first thing I noticed was how lightweight they were. Then how gold they were. Then back to how lightweight they were.
Sure, I haven’t attached the cleats yet, but even allowing for that, I have a sneaking suspicion that the shoes do, indeed, enjoy waffer thin carbon soles and that I haven’t, joy of joys, been sold a pup.
Then I had a fiddle with my knob.
The dials, used to tighten the single, presumably looped, laces are made by Atop. Who I’d not heard of but do in fact have a website, and are probably a big deal in the reel – R E E L – lacing system market.
Turning the dials to tighten has a positive feel to it and, in this initial fiddle, feel solid enough to stay noice and toight on a ride. When I turn the dials, the shoes seem to tighten around my feet smoothly and consistently across the laces, rather than, say, just at the top. I imagine this is the case for all dial-based lacing systems, but this is my first time trying one.
My only slight concern with the dials is in the loosening. As our trusty Atop website expounds, you turn the dial in the other direction.
DON’T PULL UP KNOB!
But it feels like you’re breaking the dial when you do it. The release of tension comes with a plasticky, you just lost a ratchet tooth vibe. A bit like my lovemaking.
I’m pretty sure I’m doing it right, also like my lovemaking.
I guess we’ll see how the Atop dials, and lacing system in general, hold up over time, rain and road grime.
To complete my assessment of the shoes, as a qualified purveyor of cobblers, they appear well made.
The sole is bonded, who knows if that’s the term, neatly to the upper. A brief look in the footcabin, definitely not the term, gives no cause for concern.
Everything just looks tidy and well put together.
And, having reached and gone well beyond the limits of my shoemaking knowledge, we need to get the cleats fitted, the shoes on my feet and my feet on the pedals.
So, whilst you enjoy a clattenburg of photos of me installing the cleats, I present…
A Brief Interlude On What Possessed Me To Buy Some Cycling Shoes From China
To be fair, we probably buy most of our shoes from China. Just normally via some nefarious international costermonger.
There are few things more tedious than using one piece of ‘content’ to talk about another one…. so I’ll do it anyway. And mention two.
First, I was inspired to buy some shoes from the Sidebike brand after watching a video on the Trace Velo channel, where Luke is a rigorous tester of all bike things Chinese. He had good things to say about the Sidebike shoes he’d bought. And I’d like to receive good things on my feet.
Second, a video from Dave at Just Ride Bikes hypothifacting that 2023 will be the year that Chinese brands go mainstream. He was talking about Chinese drivetrain makers competing with Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM. I’ve decided to pull a lateral contango and see how they’re doing in the shoe department.
And Now For Some Shots of Me ‘Testing’ The Shoes
Play some exciting montage music in your head.
And now, all together in your best French accent,…
“Many weeks later”
We’re back in the room … with my thoughts on the Sidebike SV-08s, after an extended period of rigorous riding.
Or just fannying about a bit.
Two things before we start.
First, I’ve worn precisely one set of road bike shoes and one set of mountain bike shoes these past 10 years. Both were made by Specialized. I have no idea what bikes shoes, as a whole, should feel like.
Second, special snowflake that I am, surely my feet are different to yours. Comfort and fit are in the toes of the be-wearer. Be-wear that in mind.
Also, sign up to my OnlyFans to see my special snowflakes.
The shoes feel light and stiff. To the extent that I can isolate the impact, they appear to be a net contributor to my speediness, such as it is.
The soles on my Specialised flex a bit under the immense force I apply. I’m no a scientist but maybe this is enough to lose a couple of watts.
The Sidebikes don’t bend at all, at least with these mighty leg guns, for they have stiffness index 14… [silence]
As a result, all of my mighty velo-power is transferred to the pedals. Where it goes after that is anyone’s guess.
At 469g for the pair, excluding the cleats, these are a lightweight pair of ones and twos.
For comparison, my Specialized Elites weigh 571g. No wonder I haven’t turned pro, with a hundred grammes of unnecessary weight strapped to my johnson.
Comfort-wise, we’re talking middle of the pack. There’s some light padding around the heel and ankle. Elsewhere it’s minimal.
There isn’t much ‘give’ in whatever the upper is made from, so they won’t mould a great deal if you’re the owner of an odd shaped foot.
Which to a degree I am, as the possessor of flat feet.
I’m sure I chose the Sidebike SV-08s because I read somewhere they were a wider fitting. Typically I can’t now find any evidence of this.
Whatevs. My left foot feels great in them. The right shoe is a touch tight on my little tootsies, which is not uncommon for me. It feels best, like my lovemaking, when I turn the dial to eleven .
Talking of which.
I have very enjoyed this introduction to dial-based lacing.
The lacing tightens evenly as I twist… and also turn the dial…
The Atop system seems to hold my foot securely in place in the shoe.
This, combined with the non-flexing sole, means that my walnut-cracking levels of quadricep power translate into the flaccid on-bike speed that I’d expect.
The transition from nut-crushing to floppy is, of course, my own personal failing rather than that of my shoes.
It’s easy to adjust the tightness one handed whilst riding. Which is obviously vital as a leisure cyclist.
Beauty is bought by the judgement of the eye. But this chap’s eye is a fan.
True, gold is not the colour for everyone. But it is for us winners at life.
For me, the mix of the bold colour, with the black dial, edging and tonguey bit, looks sehr gut.
I’m not a massive fan of the ‘Navigator’ font on the side but you can’t have everything.
Ultimately the Sidebikes look like a fast pair of shoes. And shoes that look fast make you go fast (physics).
Wear and tear
Disclaimer time: whilst I’ve worn the Sidebikes for a number of outdoor rides, many of them wet, more of my ride time with them this year has been on the Kickr.
Either way, I’ve not seen much wear and tear. Or any, really. The SV-08s remain in excellent nick.
After my most recent muddy ride, I hosed them down and they look almost new. Unlike other things important to me, I don’t polish them on a daily basis.
The material, stitching and where the upper bonds to the sole are all holding up great.
The fixings for my cleats, which are not easy to get to with these faux Speedplays, have stayed nice and secure.
The lacing seems as new, with no fraying of the lacing cord. The dial still has a nice ‘twist feel’, technical term.
Never say never but I’m confident that I’ll be getting years of use out of these shoes.
And, just to acknowledge that I am a crap reviewer that doesn’t test rigorously enough, in his Trace Velo review, Luke wore an equivalent pair of Sidebikes for 2,000km and he was impressed.
So you can take confidence from him and just, er, ignore me.
Let’s finish on value.
The shoes were advertised on AliExpress at around £80. With taxes, they came to £96. Which is not cheap.
You can certainly buy cycling shoes for less than this from your common or garden, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, UK and US online retailers.
But for this lower, or equivalent money, you are not getting:
- A decent dial-based lacing system
- Lightweight carbon soles
- Replaceable heel thingummys
- And a spaff-tastic gold design
So, to pull a cliche from my scrotty bag, the Sidebike SV-08s are a lot of shoe for the money.