What is it
Bridging the gap between its World Cup XC-level Drako and more rec ride friendly Cape Air, Sidi’s MTB Dragon 4 shoes are geared toward the serious amateur cross-country racer (or Strava’holic) who’s seeking light weight, stiff carbon sole pedaling efficiency, and ample fit adjustability. Highlight features of these near $400 shoes include a SRS carbon composite sole, two Sidi Tecno 3 precision ratchet closures, and an adjustable heel retention device. Sizes run 39-48 with half sizes from 39.5 to 46.5. The upper is made from synthetic microfiber leather with mesh cut-outs. Color choices are black, yellow, or white. Our size 44 testers weighed 394 grams per shoe sans cleats.
- Super stiff sole
- Reasonably light
- Ample adjustability
- Broad size range, including wide options
- Replaceable tread blocks
- Replaceable cleat wear plate
- Toe spike compatible
- Supple microfiber upper
- Comfortable padded tongue
- Adjustable heel retention
- Can crossover to cyclocross racing
- Reinforced toe area adds protection and enhances durability
- Reinforced heel area adds protection and enhances durability
- Decent ventilation
- Reasonable walkability
- Italian shoe making heritage
- Upper durability questions
- Somewhat finicky closure mechanisms
- No two-way micro-adjustment
My test of these Sidi MTB Dragon 4 shoes got off to a rocky start — literally. During a climbing section on my very first ride, I brushed the left shoe against a semi-sharp rock and cut a small hole in the side of the toe box. Admittedly this was a nasty piece stone right alongside the trail that actually sliced into a different pair of shoes earlier in the season. But I’d had higher hopes for these Sidi’s, which have always had a sterling reputation for durability.
It’s hard to say for sure if this was just a case of bad luck or questionable craftsmanship. What I can say is that in the ensuing months (with many more miles ridden), the shoes held up as originally expected, showing only very limited signs of wear. And it took just a few dabs of Shoe Goo to seal up the small hole.
Outside of this misstep, the MTB Dragon 4 shoes delivered as advertised, serving as a capable companion on both race day and various long rides. The carbon sole is plenty stiff, enhancing pedaling efficiency. But they also weren’t overly uncomfortable during the occasional off-the-bike walking excursion.
Fit is fully customizable thanks the to the combination of two micro-adjustable Sidi Tecno 3 ratchet closures, plus a Velcro strap over the toe box, and an adjustable heel retention device, which helps secure the heel without the need for overtightening elsewhere. However, those who’ve gotten used to two-way BOA dials found on other shoes may find these ratchet closures a little tedious. You can only micro-adjust in one direction. Loosening requires using two fingers to squeeze a pair of release tabs and your other hand to pull the wire laces out. It’s a perfectly functional system, but feels a tad antiquated compared to what you find on some other high end shoes. On the flip side, many of those shoes don’t have a heel retention device, and are thus hard to find the balance between heel security and discomfort elsewhere.
On the bottom is a stiff carbon sole, plus four well-placed and grippy tread lugs that have proven durable — and can easily be replaced when/if they wear out. Same goes for the cleat plate, meaning if you can avoid tearing up the upper (I didn’t) or damaging any of the closure mechanisms (no issues there), these shoes can last a very long time with only minimal reinvestment.
You can also drop in a set of toe spikes if you’re racing in the mud, which make the MTB Dragon 4 a great cyclocross racing crossover shoe. I also really liked the padded tongue, which helped maintain comfort on one my feet’s most sensitive areas. That comfort is bolstered by Sidi’s soft instep closure, where a wide anatomically-shaped strap over top the tongue further reduces the chances of hot spots. And just like the tread lugs, it’s replaceable.
Bottom line, Sidi shoes (including the MTB Dragon 4) continue to be on the short list of any XC-leaning mountain biker who’s looking for an efficient pedaler with broad spectrum adjustability. I just wish the upper was a little more durable and that the closure mechanisms were micro-adjustable in two directions.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
More Info: www.sidi.com