Have questions or want to discuss cycling? Join Now or Sign In to participate in the BikeRide community.

New: Take Part in the February Giveaway for a Chance to Win 2x METRO Hybrid Bikes


Serfas Podium shoe review
#1
First off let me state that I do not like reviewing clothing items that directly relate to an individual's own personal body dimensions and comfort since we are all different and what might be acceptable to one might also be unacceptable to another based on body type, age, gender, injuries, etc. I will however give my opinion of my "new" Serfas "Podium" model shoes.

My cycling shoe history 70s to Present:
I will simply start by saying that I have used both regular everyday shoes (even flip flops) to specialty cycling shoes for about 45 years. I first started wearing real cycling shoes with what were essentially "running" shoes designed for touring (my pre-racing years) that had a sole which was designed to "lock" into the pedal the same way a standard racing shoe cleat would engage its slot with the pedal cage. They were kind of pre-Shimano SPD style but no cleat and looked like regular running shoes and were quite comfortable on and off the bike; I wore them until their sub-atomic bonds weakened to nothing. I then bought a pair of lace-up Sidi shoes at a great price for the time and fell in love with a shoe that fit like a glove and was essentially 100% leather (except the laces and a small surprise). When I decided to go clipless, it was primarily due to riding in a commuting mode and wanting to be able to free-up a foot quickly in traffic. I only ever fell over twice while strapped in and the main injury was to my pride. Peer pressure of a fellow clipless pedal rider also helped with my decision. I bought the top end Look racing pedals from a shop which cost at the time about 25% of everything I had spent on my serious cycling gear up to that time (used 1980 Colnago Super Campy Nuovo Record with upgraded Super Record brakeset and a San Marco "Rolls" saddle, Bell "Stratos" "star wars" helmet, and my Sidi shoes; all for about $500). The shop I bought the Look pedals from offered a free modification to my existing Sidi shoes since they were only designed for a standard cleat at the time, and after hearing much cursing and about an hours time I had my modified shoes for my ne6w Look pedals. I found out Sidi used (the surprise) a titanium sole plate to add stiffness but keep weight to a minimum. The guy trying to modify those shoes (bless him!) was having quite the time drilling through those sole plates after realizing what they were. I used those shoes for 15 years of racing, commuting and touring. I used that set off Look pedals for about 30 years (they were great; actually are great since I can still use them).
I regrettably retired the Sidi lace-ups (even though still rideable, and bought a pair of 2 velcro strap Lake shoes designed for Look cleats. They were not cheap, but I did not like them as much as lace-ups and they were not as durable and the sole literally torn away from the upper (I duct taped them to keep them in use).
I got Duegi and also Detto with straps which were both great shoes but eventual strap wear made them unserviceable.
On a used bike I bought there were some Shimano SPD style pedals which I never use, but I found a nearly unused pair of Shimano leather lace-ups at a repurpose store for $20 so my cross bike ended up with the SPD pedals and I could wear those shoes which are great.
My "back to the past" riding Eroica events found me wearing Sidis again which bought from someone in Italy. They are the same shoes I bought originally and are in great condition for being 35 years old, but these were not going to be modified for Look pedals and only ridden sparingly for vintage bike events so I still needed some new shoes.
Bringing us to the recent past (about 10 years ago) I bought a pair of Serfas (cannnot remember the model); a brand I had never heard of. I got them at a bike shop so I assumed they were decent shoes. They were heavily discounted being older stock that they were trying to clear out. They were also women's shoes, but their largest size (43), thus they had not sold so I got them for $30 as a trial and they fit well (tight for width, but stretchable). They were white which I prefer for Florida riding keeping your feet cooler in the sun. No issues though so I kept them.
Those shoes were also my first 3 strap shoes and first with a ratcheting main strap. I found everything about them to be decent, but I figured the straps and ratchet stuff would fall apart quickly so I bought them thinking for the cost I could not go wrong. They worked great except for the mechanism release the ratchet strap which was a dual lever design and both needed to be pushed to release the main strap. Being happy with those shoes I went back to the shop months later and bought a pair of black Serfas "Podium" model shoes for winter and cooler weather riding. Similar 3 strap ratcheting design, but with a single push button release mechanism which much easier to use.
I never used the black shoes until a couple of years ago when I started to ride up north in cooler Fall/Winter months. They were about 8 years old and new and only got a fee dozen rides on them.
My white shoes eventually got beat up and the release mechanisms were failing after nearly 10 years of use (surprised me!) so I recently started to use the black Serfas more regularly. I do not think I had over 3 dozen rides on these shoes and they still look new, but after my lay-off I am coming back with a vengeance riding 6 days a week for the past month and 5 of those days are commuting so I am in and out of the shoes twice each of those days. I would guess that I have still less than 100 times that I have been in and out of theses shoes. About one week into my new riding schedule I realized that the ratchet straps on both shoes were about to tear off in an identical manner. I had inspected these shoes closely upon purchasing and the design and workmanship seemed sound. The ratchet straps were easily replaceable which I thought was a good feature. Unfortunately, the strap failure occurred at a place which was not where you could replace it. The design did not allow enough flex at the area where they were sewn to the shoe and thus they essentially torn at that area due to not being able to flex when from the hinging effect when removing the shoes. I am still wearing them since the middle velcro strap is adequate for casual to medium duty riding, but would be inadequate for and race/climbing applications.
Since the shoes are still in great condition otherwise, and fit and feel wonderful, I am going to repair them by installing and actual small hinge (brass or stainless steel) in that area. I only have one other pair of shoes with a similar build for comparison of their design. They are modern Sidi shoes (women's model and too small for me) I got with some Look pedals being sold together. I cannot make a determination as to their design durability since the previous owner only wore them twice before opting for SPD pedals and shoes due to off-road riding (thus the package deal; the shoes were essentially gotten for free).
My white Serfas did not show any issue with the ratchet strap construction, the main wear was at the "fold-over" area on the middle velcro strap which started to tear after many years of donning and doffing those shoes; something I expected and was not displeased at due to their long service.
My main warning with these strap shoes is to carefully look at and test the flex of the design to determine future issues. My shoes failed with very little use and wear; certainly well before they should have. I did not pull the failed straps way back when removing my shoes so it took very little stress to cause their failure. These shoes should have lasted many hundreds of rides (like all my others without premature failure). I had not even noticed until each strap was literally hanging on by its last thread so I do not know how soon the failure occurred, but I expect that once it started they probably failed in a few removals. I do not crank the ratchet super tight so I think the design was deficient from the get go. Nor do I think that years of storage before use caused their failure. The design could easily have been better by using thicker, stronger, and/or more flexible material; as well as using a wider stitching pattern since using small spaced stitching in that area acted as perforations allowing it to tear off like a paper towel from its roll.
Also, the ratcheting mechanism pivots (it can also be easily replaced if damaged), but there is no allowance for the same movement on the strap mounting side so integrating some free play in that area would also help this issue.
I believe my repair should allow prolonged use before the velcro strap starts to fail.
I am curious if others have had the same premature failure. When I very recently went online I saw people had provided good reviews; but I also saw the prices ranging from $35-$100 (mine cost about $65 8 yrs ago, discounted due to my repeated patronage of that shop).

With all that being said, my next shoes will be traditional lace-ups (not boa/dial-in design) which in my opinion provide the best comfort due to being able to tighten the laces exactly where I want them and having the easiest and lowest cost to replace that which might fail after PROLONGED usage. My old leather lace-up shoes never truly failed and fit better than any new style shoe regardless of price or design.

   
Note: the strap is taped on to shown original placement            
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#2
More issues with these shoes. After a 30 mile ride in the rain, I finished up by cleaning my bike and rinsing off certain equipment including my shoes. I used no detergents just a warm water rinse and air dry. After about 24 hours of drying I set them in the sun for about 30 minutes just to ensure that the inside was thoroughly dried during which time I rotated them 180 degrees so no one area really got more than about 20 minutes of sunlight on them.
As I went to put them on a couple hours later (they had been removed from the sun for at least 2 hours) I noticed that one velcro toe strap had apparently come undone. This was odd since I never removed during cleaning, nor had I ever removed or loosened it since the first time wearing them so there should have been no issue with this strap.
What I thought was the strap being undone was in fact the vinyl top layer of the strap having separated from the velcro portion; the velcro portion was still secured to the shoes as it had been had its first wearing.
Now I will have to re-glue the top part of the strap to the velcro. I'll try contact cement first and see how it holds up. I expect the other strap to do this same thing in short order (as is my luck) so I'll glue it around the edges and anywhere it may be separating in order to avoid the same thing happening to it.
This is just getting ridiculous with the poor quality of materials (in this case an adhesive), workmanship, and/or designs that are being used in the production of many products in and outside of the cycling industry.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply


Possibly Related Threads...

Forum Jump:

[-]
10 Latest Posts
Why do spokes break?
Today 12:10 PM
Staying Active as the Wet, Cold & Darkne...
Today 11:48 AM
How to keep your bicycle safe?
Today 04:50 AM
Slingshot road bike
Today 04:43 AM
Ground breaking design or gimmick ?
Today 04:30 AM
WTB Raddler TCS 40c, small cut - repaira...
Yesterday 09:01 AM
Customize your profile (photo, signature...
02-19-2024 06:24 AM
Official Shimano 105 Crankset Raw Weight...
02-19-2024 01:12 AM
1990 Specialized Rockhopper How to Fluff...
02-18-2024 11:30 AM
E Bike Rental Bled
02-17-2024 02:16 PM

[-]
Join BikeRide on Strava
Feel free to join if you are on Strava: www.strava.com/clubs/bikeridecom

[-]
Top 5 Posters This Month
no avatar 1. GirishH
26 posts
no avatar 2. enkei
19 posts
no avatar 3. ReapThaWhirlwind
15 posts
no avatar 4. Jesper
14 posts
no avatar 5. Painkiller
12 posts