Sidi MTB Gravel Shoes review - durable gravel shoes with additional foot protection

There are cheaper alternatives, but if you’re a die-hard Sidi fan looking for a more relaxed off-road shoe, this could be the one for you

Image shows the Sidi MTB Gravel shoes
(Image credit: Future)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

I found that the shape of the Sidi MTB Gravel Shoes pinched my forefoot a bit and the sole was a little too flexy even for more relaxed and longer distance gravel rides. There are also cheaper options from brands such as Fizik and Specialized, too, which pack in additional features such as tackier (and stiffer) soles and are easier to walk in. But if you know that the shape of Sidi shoes works for you and aren’t fussed about sole stiffness or paying a premium, you will be happy with these.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Robust upper

  • +

    Foot protection

  • +

    Widely spaced lugs

  • +

    Dial retention system

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Upper can cause hotspots

  • -

    Very flexy sole

The Sidi MTB Gravel shoes sit around the entry level of the Italian manufacturer’s range - but given the calibre and the pricing structure of Sidi shoes, for most brands these would actually count as mid-range.

Like many of the best gravel bike shoes, Sidi’s MTB Gravel Shoes aim to combine all-day comfort with a sprightly and responsive feel. This model also benefits from some protective elements for better injury prevention when out on the trails, too. 

Sidi MTB Gravel: construction

Image shows the Sidi MTB Gravel shoes

(Image credit: Future)

Let’s start with the upper. It’s made from a robust feeling felt-y material with perforations for ventilation and featuring some mesh sections on the tongue and the inside of the ankle for extra breathability and comfort. 

Those chunky-looking inserts on the outside of the ankles are Sidi’s ‘Shock Absorber Protection’, essentially polyurethane bumpers that will take the worst of the hit should you suffer a glancing blow from a tree or rock.

Image shows the Sidi MTB Gravel shoes

(Image credit: Future)

The retention system uses Sidi’s own dial technology. Here, you first have to release a lever which flips out to allow you to tighten the shoes incrementally. To loosen the tension, there are some buttons on the side of the shoe that you have to squeeze together. It’s not quite as quick as a Boa dial off the blocks, but you do get more used to it and the process speeds up. On these shoes there is only the one single dial.

Image shows the Sidi MTB Gravel shoes

(Image credit: Future)

Finally, the soles. These are Sidi’s ‘carbon fibre reinforced MTB competition nylon soles’, which Sidi says offer both "outstanding stiffness as well as maximum power transfer". The lugs are quite tall and widely spaced, although not super tacky and not replaceable - unlike some of the other models in Sidi’s range.

Image shows the Sidi MTB Gravel shoes

(Image credit: Future)

Sidi MTB Gravel: the ride

The longest ride I did with the Sidi MTB Gravel Shoes was over 200km, up the length of Wales. But whilst they are up to the task of long distance epics, I noticed a few aspects where other shoes around a similar price point have performed better.

It’s not often I find a sole too flexible, but the Sidi MTB Gravel shoes managed it. In higher torque situations, mainly when climbing, there was just too much give around the midfoot, with the shoe noticeably contorting underneath my foot arch. 

For the long distance rides that I was doing, this wasn’t much of a problem - though a little disconcerting. But for higher paced rides and interval efforts I would really much prefer a stiffer platform. It doesn’t need to be super stiff, the Specialized Recon 2.0 and Fizik Terra Atlas shoes are both hardly race shoes, but they are still both stiffer than the Sidi MTB Gravel Shoes.

Despite there being such a level of flex while riding, this didn’t translate into the Sidi MTB Gravel shoes being any easier to walk in, as the sole was still pretty rigid across the forefoot, underneath my toes. This is the exact opposite to Specialized’s Recon 2.0 shoes, which are firm and supportive across the midfoot, for a stiff pedaling platform, and highly flexible under the toes, which aids walking but is unnoticeable when riding as it isn’t subject to any significant forces during the pedal stroke.

The upper was largely fine. The weather conditions were neither particularly hot or cold when I was riding with these shoes and I didn’t experience any discomfort in either aspect. The material itself feels robust and durable, whilst those ventilation perforations likely did help with the breathability. 

Whether it was the single retention dial preventing me from balancing the tension across the shoe or simply the shape of the upper, I did find that my forefoot was quite pinched and I did build up a bit of a hot spot there on the side of my foot. I wouldn’t have been able to loosen the dial any further without my heel lifting from the shoe though.

Sidi MTB Gravel: value and conclusion

Image shows the Sidi MTB Gravel shoes

(Image credit: Future)

At $259.99 / £195.00, the Sidi MTB Gravel Shoes are quite expensive. The Specialized Recon 2.0 shoes are $170.00 / £175.00 and feature a stiffer mid-sole, are easier to walk in and have grippier lugs. 

The Fizik Terra Atlas shoes aren’t quite as easy to walk in as Specialized’s Recon 2.0 and don’t have quite the same levels of off-road grip - but they are similarly good to pedal in, have a very comfortable upper and are significantly cheaper at $160.00 / £154.99.

I had some particular issues with the Sidi MTB Gravel Shoes. The soles were too flexy - (a problem I don’t often have) - and something about the upper pinched my forefoot. It could have been the shape of the upper or it could have been the retention system over-tightening at the bottom of the shoe relative to the top.

Either way, there are better performing shoes available for less, such as the Specialized Recon 2.0 or the Fizik Terra Atlas - both of which I would recommend. But, if you know that you do get on with the shape of Sidi shoes, quite like the dial retention system and aren’t fussed about flexy soles, then there’s nothing about the Sidi MTB Gravel Shoes that will bother you.

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Stefan Abram
Tech features editor

After winning the 2019 National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships and claiming the plushie unicorn (true story), Stefan swapped the flat-bars for drop-bars and has never looked back. 

Since then, he’s earnt his 2ⁿᵈ cat racing licence in his first season racing as a third, completed the South Downs Double in under 20 hours and Everested in under 12.

But his favourite rides are multiday bikepacking trips, with all the huge amount of cycling tech and long days spent exploring new roads and trails - as well as histories and cultures. Most recently, he’s spent two weeks riding from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia

Height: 177cm

Weight: 67–69kg