Sunday, January 20, 2013

Equipment - Sidi Shoe Overhaul

Each winter I go through a bit of rebuilding, replacing, and purchasing cycling equipment. What I do depends on what I want, what I think I need, and what seems to be the most practical option at the time. Sometimes budget comes into play - it's very unusual that I buy a complete bike, for example, as I've only done that twice in 30 years, once when I got my Basso and once when I got the SystemSix. I usually replace a few parts on an existing bike, sometimes the frame.

More often I refit equipment, replacing wear items like cassettes, chains, tires, and bar tape. I'll regularly check to see if a new this-or-that improves my bike. I almost always get more cycling clothing, known as "the kit", at least when not referring to doping kits. And, in the past few years, I've been experimenting with helmet cams and related equipment.

This winter I focused on a few equipment related things. First I really want to build up my used-to-be-orange-and-now-red Tsunami, using some updated and improved parts. Next I wanted to get some taller race wheels, hopefully to get some more top end speed. Finally I wanted to refit some worn equipment to decrease the chances of an equipment failure.

"Refitting" is a regular thing in business or government. In World War 2 battalions and divisions and even armies regularly lost most of their armored equipment in battles. Once a particular battle ended (usually at the end of a given day) and the losing side withdraws from a particular area, the victorious side goes out and retrieves their broken equipment. In particularly ferocious battles they don't wait for the battle to end - crews will go retrieve or even repair tanks under fire in order to be able to use that tank right away.

Although initially I thought that a force that started with, say, 100 tanks might go out and retrieve a dozen or so damaged tanks, I learned that oftentimes a force can lose something like 80% or 90% of their forces during even short battles. Not only that but many battles concentrated a country's forces in a very small area, so a large battle in a small area may in fact use most of a country's armored forces.

In situations like these it's imperative to salvage everything possible. This makes retrieving, and refitting, damaged equipment incredibly important. Once refitted these "casualties" can return to the fight, effectively canceling out the casualties.

Pictures of tank refitting areas, close to the front lines, show crews replacing major things like turrets, engines, cannon, transmissions, things like that. These are not minor repairs. It is major work to virtually rebuild a tank using its hull as a start point.

With this in mind I looked at my Sidis in a different light. Instead of trying to figure out what new shoe to buy, something I'd been doing since the fall of 2011, I started looking at replacement parts for my current shoes.

They've been serving well since the Missus got them for me for my birthday a while back, but now time has started to affect the shoes. I don't want the shoes to have a failure during a race so I decided that I needed to overhaul the shoes in preparation for the 2013 season.

The metal buckle handle flaps around.

The silver metal buckle should lay flat but the springs holding them flat failed on both sides years ago. Tilting the shoe slightly causes it to swing away from the rest of the buckle. When I pedal the silver buckles flap like little wings, clicking merrily away.

The instep strap has SIDI in big letters on it. The end of it sticks out and catches on things.

It slides into the black piece on the side of the shoe and a little tail sticks out the end of that black mount. The problem is that the tail has has caught on stuff, bending it outward. Now it sticks out and catches regularly on my cranks. It's kind of like catching your fingernail on something - it sort of returns to position but the next time it catches on something it practically folds backward on itself. Not a good thing when it consistently catches on the crank arms.

My shoes, as they were before the refitting. One Tecno 2 buckle, the round things, has already failed, on the left shoe. I have a grey one in place.

The original buckles. They show the scars of two falls.

The stack of replacement parts.
From top left - replacement buckles, instep straps, two sets of Tecno 2 buckles.
Not shown: a pair of white buckle straps ("clicker" strap) and a pair of heel pads.

I got red and white just because I wanted to do something different. I'd have gotten new shoes but these has a perfectly suitable base, the replacement parts cost less than half of an inexpensive pair of Sidis, and 

The instep straps consist of two parts - the instep and the clicker strap.
New buckles shown too. The old instep assembly sits at the back.

I replaced all of the Tecno 2 buckles as well. I don't want to be sidelined by a failed wire thing.

To replace the Tecno 2 buckles (and yes, it's spelled "Tecno", not "Techno"), you need to first press out a pin holding things together. A screw on the other side holds down the clear wire. In the above picture I've removed the screw and pushed the pin out.

Removing the Tecno buckles was a pain.

Once you press the pin out you need to pull out the gear thing underneath - the ratcheting wheel thing. It does come out, believe it or not, but it requires a good deal of firm force. There's a tab that keeps the ratchet assembly from rotating, and the catch for that tab is made with a soft plastic or hard rubber. When I removed the ratchet mechanism I damaged all but one of those catches.

Basically the bit that's left on the shoe is a hard rubber item, it's not hard plastic.
Because it flexes a bit you can take the guts out without breaking it.

The catch is at the top of the black base that's still in the shoe - it's just above the stitching that is normally covered by the buckle. The tab that catches it is on the pice with the silver lever, opposite the lever.

Pulling the new string to seat the new guts.
The other side is straightforward, just the screw and a cover thing.
Note the paperclip in the background, used to push the pin through.

The shoes refitted, from the top.

On the bottom I have new heel pads. Mine were so worn I couldn't believe it.

I'll be doing the cleats as well, maybe in a few weeks. The cleat area has a lot of screws and the shoe feels noticeably heavy up front - I'm considering replacing the numerous screws - there are five screws, not just the three cleat screws - with some lighter ones.

So how did the shoes turn out? Well I've done two rides on the trainer so far. I overtightened the front buckles, as usual, even keeping them "too loose" since I know they are way too tight when "too loose". After some adjustments my feet got some blood flow back to the toes.

Surprisingly the insteps made a huge difference. The old ones curled over itself at the top, sort of over the top of the Sidi logo, and therefore they didn't support the top of my foot as well as the new ones. The new insteps have made the shoes feel much more supportive.

The heel pads make refilling my bottles much safer - trotting into the bathroom on slick plastic soles is sketchy at best. With the heel pad it's much better.

I have a second set of Sidis, I think Genius 5s, with two velcro type straps instead of the Tecno 2 buckles. Those need new heel pads, new velcro, but the ratcheting buckle and straps seem okay. I may revive those shoes as well as a backup. Currently they serve, with SPD-R cleats, as my track bike shoes.


Admin said...

hey aki, trueno92 here, the one that was all OCD about getting a rev-x for my fixed gear, ugh..

I have been steadily training on rollers and made good progress, amazing progress, until my 2yr old daughter started bringing home all kinds of sickness from daycare... that simply put me off the bike for a good 2 months (holiday eating.. which easily could be a month of eating in a week)..

its so coincidental you had a post on sidi shoe overhauling! I recently picked up a pair of used dominator 4/eagle 4's from a friend and have been using my cobbler skills to make them like new. Detergent does wonders for the Lorica uppers...

do you have any longer head-cam vids than whats on youtube? makes for great time spent on the rollers!
your friend!

Aki said...

I think it must be one of those coincidence things (I don't remember the term now), parallel something, something like that.

Our now 10+ month old is sick again and it's really beat me down - I have a couple cam clips in the pipeline and haven't even opened iMovie for at least a week, forget about any other projects. I barely make it through feeding, changing, and clothing Junior during the day.

You asked about insoles in another thought (all comments are moderated so don't show up until I click a button or link). I use the standard insoles but your thought on insoles has made me think about this. I used to use Sidi insoles in other shoes so I thought they were better than other brands.

I haven't created much longer clips. My helmet cam clips are composed of bits and pieces of full length clips, obviously, but having sat through a couple of them it's incredibly boring. My main tactic is to save everything for the finish so much of my clips are me sitting at the back. Not really exciting. There are some people that created channels of helmet cam clips and those are interesting. I think YouTube made me into my own channel, or else I was watching someone else's channel, while on the trainer. The clips just came one after another, it was pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Could you please tell me how could you push out the pin from the buckle? I am trying to do it but the pin doesn't even move. What kind of tool did you use?

Thanks a lot,

Aki said...

Hi Norbi,

I used a very small allen wrench to push the pin out. An allen wrench will be stronger than a paper clip or similar.

To push them back in I used a flat screwdriver (happened to be on my pocket knife). Pushing the pin back in is tricky - you have to line up the pin with the hole and then it'll push in. I didn't push most of the pins back in until literally yesterday, and I did it just before a race, sitting in my car.

I hope this helps!