Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dromartis -- 4

I learned about the Dromarti leather lace-up shoes from an uncharacteristically positive review in Bicycle Quarterly maybe a year ago.  Heine, who holds nearly everything that has been produced since 1985 to the flame in the name of objective reporting, simply gushed over the Dromartis.  I've gotten hooked on performance-touring cycle shoes in the past 18 months or so and decided to give the Dromartis a try.

The shoes are sold at  It's a great website.  Martin, from the UK, sells four things.  Black two-bolt (mountain/touring) shoes.  Brown two-bolt shoes.  Black three-bolt (racing) shoes.  And brown three-bolt shoes.  He used to have them made in Italy, but moved the manufacture to Taiwan.  I say "great."  Better quality, lower price.  And a real government.

Here are the Brown Race shoes, picture from
OK, we can confess, the guy's got good-looking legs and a better looking bike.  But those are awesome-looking shoes.

And, also from Dromarti, here are the black race shoes:

Word is that David Millar -- yes, that David Millar -- is riding in the three-bolt shoes.  Not racing, I assume, as they are muy heavy for competitive applications.

I now have the brown and black, both, in the two-bolt touring configuration.  The brown have become my go-to long-distance shoes for every purpose except for car-supported racing.  The black, new this week, are my commuting shoes in Indianapolis.

An amusing true anecdote:  I was out for a tune-up ride prior to the Natchez Trace 444.  I passed some guy kitted in some TDF team kit.  He caught me at the light.  "Dude, did you just pass me while riding in dress shoes?"  

They come with that cool shoe bag.  What to do with that, I'm not sure.
A few things:
  1. The 2-bolt version work fine as walking shoes.  For touring applications, it is hard to imagine a better shoe, short of simply wearing tennies with platform pedals.
  2. They look good enough to wear with jeans or khakis at the office.  It's a tad goofy, because they are obviously cycling shoes, but it's not unprofessional.  And with the recessed cleats you can walk on tiled floors without a problem.
  3. They perform quite well for commuter riding.  I can flog the bike out the stoplight without feeling too flexy in the soles.
  4. The laces hold a knot without any problem.  If you worry about laces in the chain, no need with the Dromartis.  (I double-knot, but that is de rigeur.)
  5. Riding long distances they perform as well as can be expected for a heavier shoe with less-than-perfectly-stiff soles.  I suffered a horrific case of hot-foot on the abbreviated Glacier 1000K last June, but as Sam can attest, gear cannot be blamed for any challenges on that particular ride.  (And with the flexibility of laces, I adjusted the fit and relieved the discomfort.)  On the Fleche (400K with loads of climbing) and SR600 (600K with even more climbing), they were all one could ask for in a comfortable all-day shoe.
Here are the brown two-bolt on the Fleche.  Don't hold the shoes responsible for the skinny ankles.

Leather shoes, wool socks.  Are we certain this is cycling?
In sum:  even at $295 a pair, the Dromartis are a strong buy.


sam said...

I am tempted, but I think no sale on this one. $295 4 pairs of Shimano sandals right there.

But they are great looking. If I were a commuter I could see picking up a pair for that reason. Or for the Rapha crowd they'd make a good shoe for walking to the coffee shop in!

Max said...

We need to discuss your non-bike-commuting habit. And for that matter, your non-coffee-shop habit. And although the Dromartis look good with a Rapha kit, not sure they're the Rapha crowd's go-to shoe yet. Not expensive enough -- and not pink enough. (Actually, I'm serious about that. Check out Rapha's offerings, which are simply rebadged Giros, offered in kit-coordinated color options for $450 a pair. And not a two-bolt version in the line.)

Unknown said...

They're certainly nice-looking. Is there any virtue to these other than the aesthetic? I'd certainly never use them in the racing scenario: I have extremely odd feet that, even with ridiculous arch supports and metatarsal buttons in my insoles, predispose me to hotfoot problems in ultra events. My solution is usally to pull my feet out of the shoes and ride with them on top of the shoes, "triathlon dismount" style, for a few minutes before putting them back in as I ride. That wouldn't be possible with laces.

I may wind up getting fit for a pair of D2s eventually.

Max said...

Virtue other than aesthetic: supremely comfortable, like a pair of well-made leather hiking boots, and highly adjustable with the laces. You are right that if you are just getting crushed in your shoes no matter what you do, velcro gives an easier exit possibility.


Unknown said...

They are, by apparent consensus, the best thing going in custom cycling shoes. I don't have deformed feet per se, but I have arches higher than most fitters have ever seen, which in short means extremely inflexible feet and a small contact patch on the insoles, as well as a short achilles that forces me into a toes-down pedaling style. It all adds up to hot foot even with gargantuan arch supports in standard shoes. I've been making do, but it's tempting to get a permanent solution at some point.