i know, i know, i highlighted the advent of these on the post last week, and i'd hate to become the bbc and constantly repeat myself, but if that's what it takes, then we'll just have to put up with it together. this repeat performance has been brought about by the generosity of martin at dromarti who, after my last post on the subject, was kind enough to send a real pair of the new black and red italian leather shoes to investigate from the inside, as opposed to simply window shopping with jaw dropped open.
i have ridden with a pair of the original brown leather dromarti shoes for about a year or so, shoes that have elicited many a 'wow! i gotta get myself a pair of those' almost everywhere i have chosen to tread. in the manner of the finest leather saddles from brooks, these shoes have built up a lasting relationship (did you see what i did there?) with both feet, and i confess to taking strange joy in lacing up a pair of cycling shoes as opposed to twisting, clicking or pressing some new-fangled closure invented with the sole premise of keeping sprinters' feet from extraneous movement come the last few hundred kilometres. the black variation seem intent on continuing this relationship.
there are, according to mrs washingmachinepost, many too many old wives' tales and superstitions surrounding what should and should not be attempted with a new pair of shoes. don't leave them on the table, don't wear them for the first time in the rain; you know just what i mean. these old wives may not have been cyclists, but had that been the case, no doubt there would be warnings against wearing them for the first time on a century ride. in fact, despite the lack of any proximitous old wives, i did have one or two misgivings about doing so myself.
however, i am supposed to be a fearless tester and reviewer of all things cycling, one who laughs in the face of adversity, and used to treading the high wire without the benefit of a safety net. so in the interests of my readership, and to heck with personal discomfort, i wore the new black and reds to the ride of the falling rain. new leather is often stiff, and the black was no exception, perhaps a tad stiffer than the brown had been at the same stage. this was certainly true of the heel section, but i am of a similar opinion regarding shoes as of gloves and shorts: they should be slightly difficult to put on, otherwise they're likely either too big, or have the seeds of their own over-flexibility built-in.
the red external stitching contrasts very favourably with the very black leather without leading to ostentation. however, ostentation cannot be said to be missing from the lining, spilling over to present a red frame for your ankles. it is, as has been said, the biz. the leather body is perforated with variously sized holes which, yes, will let water in, but also let the heat out. the trick is to exude sufficient heat to evaporate any rain on the way in.
the soles, rather than being woven carbon fibre as has seemingly become the rigid fashion, are of carbon resin. perhaps slightly less isambard kingdom brunel than a pair of mavic zxelliums, but more than adequate for those without a domestique contract for next season. in fact, considerably more than adequate. my pedals of choice are from mavic, in the case of the falling rain, feet were clipped into mavic sprints, though almost not unclipped, since the right cleat loosened off after only a few miles, entirely due to incompetence of the mechanic with a 4mm allen key. tightening completed at a debbie's pit-stop, the undersides remained trouble free for the remaining eighty miles.
in fact, the shoes remained trouble free throughout; despite the stiffer leather and those martial heel tabs, both feet were well cossetted. i mentioned to martin at dromarti that, such was the comfort, unless i looked down every now and again, i forgot i had them on. bare feet. this is not to say that similar sensation (or lack of) cannot be experienced while wearing alternative footwear, but modern synthetics generally won't improve after that first ride. if any disadvantage could be pinpointed, it would be the propensity for that red colour of the inside to transfer its affections to your socks, specifically at the extremities; the heel and base of big and little toes. but as my mother was in favour of lecturing, pride bears no pain.
i have continued to wear the shoes on exploratory rides through this week, while testing more wonderful bits and bobs that will enhance our appreciation of riding on two wheels, and already it's possible to feel the leather engaging in superior dialogue with my feet. the conversation has been mutually beneficial, and i look forward to a lengthy transcription as symbiosis continues in the coming years.
the dromarti black and reds are roughly a tenner dearer than their brown leather counterparts. those tested retail at £150, give or take a penny, considerably cheaper than many other top range cycle footwear, utilising synthetic fabrics. style is something inherent in the pedalling action of the rider, but should you find yourself bereft of such, and pretty unlikely to acquire it in the foreseeable future, a pair of dromarti leather black and reds will provide a very satisfactory distraction, while instilling a degree of pride of ownership for many a year to come. meanwhile, brace yourself for foot envy.
posted wednesday 4 august 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................