Available direct over the web from Dromarti, the Race and Sportivo (same shoe, but with a mountain bike tread and drillings for MTB cleats) shoes are decidedly retro. These shoes are hand made (in Taiwan), using an all leather upper and plastic/rubber sole. Opening up the box, you instantly get that new-leather perfume that would usually be associated with a fresh pair of nice dress shoes. It’s a luxurious introduction to a piece of athletic equipment, and is followed by a top quality item.
The Races’ are lined with a super soft leather, as are the inner sole and tongue. The uppers/outer are a heavier duty leather. The tongue is padded via strategically placed pillows of padding between the soft liner and harder wearing outer layer. The sole is relatively flexible for a modern cycling shoe, although adequately stiff for most riding, and drilled for a conventional three hole cleat. A small rubberized tread features on the toe and the heel has a substantial rubber tread block. Neither tread is replaceable.
Seven rows of laces draw the Dromartis closed. I found the last to be slightly wide and I’d rate myself average width. The seven rows of laces allow a degree of fine tuning that is absent in dual or triple strap shoes, removing the inevitable tight or loose spots that most people encounter due to the bumps and bulges in their individual foot. As my time in the Dromartis progressed the leather softened and the fit evolved to better suit my foot. The heel cup is deep and has a very solid rim lining which retains your heel quite securely.
After decades of Velcro and ratchet assisted shoes, I can’t profess to have mastered a fast lacing-up technique for the Dromartis. A few times I did grab my regular shoes because I was running late, and didn’t have time to lace and snug up the Dromartis. Lacing is important, as in the saddle adjustments are a no-go with lace up shoes. Fortunately, once done up properly I never found need to re-adjust during a ride.
The look is a matter of taste, but the fabrication has definite pros and cons. The leather seems to be very hard wearing. The toe box doesn’t have any scuffs after plenty of use, and a quick wipe or brush has these shoes looking like new, even after a filthy dose of rain and road spray. The red stitching on our black (also available in brown) pair seems equally durable with no fraying or unraveling. The solid leather toe box keeps cold air off; we reviewed in mid summer, but these will likely be peerless winter training partners.
On the flip side, ventilation relies on generous holes, which have been punched out of the side panels. Air flow is reasonable, but these aren’t the coolest summer shoes around. The robust construction means the Dromartis will also be 100-150 grams heavier per pair than a regular high-end shoe, and as noted the sole is not the stiffest going.
After several months in the Dromartis it’s clear that these shoes are a serious long-term investment. The construction and materials are still like new, and the fit has evolved in the same fashion as a classy pair of leather dress shoes. They will never be lightest, stiffest or coolest but there is a compelling list of pro’s attached to these classic kicks.
Distributor: Dromarti www.dromarti.com