The Buvel is Sidi’s ‘entry level’ MTB shoe, more or less. But, of course, being Sidi, entry level is still something that commands something of a premium. So the RRP of the Buvel is £135. That’s not actually that bad for something which is likely to last for years, but it is more money than, for example, the excellent Giro Privateer R (reviewed previously). Of course RRP is merely a guide and, if you time it right, you can get some great deals.The Buvel is just about to disappear, having been replaced by the Sidi Trace. There are some differences, but it’s still a very similar shoe. Head over to Merlin Cycles right now and there are some very good deals indeed, Buvel for £79 and you can’t say any fairer than that.
If you’re reading this and think, hang on, I want road shoes, then you’re also in luck. The Sidi Level is pretty much the same, so you can read all these comments with that in mind. And they’re also only £84 at Merlin at the moment: click here to buy
The Sidi line of shoes is pretty consistent. Move up the range you gain dials in the place of straps, carbon soles in the place of composite, a heel counter here and there, lose some weight. But there’s a lineage to all of them that makes even the cheapest model feel like the most expensive ones. For what it’s worth, a little weight aside, there’s not a great deal of ‘feel’ difference between the Buvel and something like the Drako.
I opted for the orange and they are very orange indeed. There are about 5 or 6 other colourways so there’s something for pretty much everyone. They’re even more orange than my Giro VR90 which is saying something. My size 45 came out at about 450g per shoe (with cleats) which is slightly lighter than the Giro Privateer R.
The upper is not leather, it’s called Politex and is, in essence, really heavy duty PVC. In terms of sizing, what can I say, I seem to be a 45 in everything now, Sidi, Giro, Shimano. Some are a little more or less generous. I’d say the Buvel are roomier than my VR90 but similar to a Shimano 45. Others report Sidi as sizing small, I don’t really experience that, I guess I have a ‘normal’ foot width.
Fastening duties are pretty traditional. The bottom two velcro straps grip well. There’s also sufficient length in them so that they don’t show any unsightly velcro when done up. That’s also useful as visible velcro can be a magnet for grass/hay during CX and off road for example. The Sidi buckle is pretty easy to operate, slide in, ratchet, sorted. I’d say it’s not quite as premium or hard wearing as that found on higher level Sidi and, arguably, the Sidi dial system is a little better in terms of comfort and putting itself out of the way to avoid being broken. In terms of getting a secure fit it’s all very easy.
The heel has a nice high cup with added plastic protection at the rear. There’s no adjustable heel retention device as per the Drako et al but I’ve never really experienced any heel lift in a Sid which doesn’t have it. I’ve always found the protection at the rear of a Sidi to be excellent and it seems to add little to the overall weight.
Shoes will stand and fall on their sole. So, where I like the sole of the Privateer R a mate of mine finds it a little to flexy for full on riding, where I find it fine. The soles of the Buvel do feel, to me, that little bit stiffer. There’s no carbon here. It’s full on nylon, but, frankly, it does the job very well.
If there’s an issue it’s that the silver tread of the Sidi Comp sole has always looked a bit slippy or lacking in grip. Actually, it’s fine, be that the marbled slick floors in work when I walk in after the commute or the muddy stuff. The compound is sufficiently safe. Of course, the tread is not replaceable as per the high end stuff. But then neither is the tread on something like the Giro VR90. Do we need it? I’d say not, the Sidi should last you for years, given proper care, and if you wear that sole down to the level that it’s problematic I’d suggest the rest of the shoe will need replacing. There are two bolt holes for spikes as well, should you need that bit more grip off road or during CX.
In terms of comfort they’re spot on. Sidi insoles are at best, functional, and at worst, bloody awful. They’re cheap and thin but I get on with them. There’s no feel of anything from the sole coming through. If you want to replace them, do, chuck something like superfeet in there. I do think they can work on this but perhaps they expect people buying a premium shoe to replace the insoles anyway. It’s an area in which even their premium shoes fall behind.
I experienced no hot spots and despite their slight weight you can’t feel that on the bike. Flex seems pretty non existent but they can be walked in without looking like a duck. They are a nice middle ground.
Are they as good as the Sidi Drako? No, but those are 2 1/2 times the price so they really shouldn’t be. If you fancy something with a dial then the new Trace or existing Cape can take care of that. But there aren’t really many offers knocking round on those at the moment. So, if you want something that will do pretty much anything, for a reasonable price, I don’t think you can beat the Buvel at the moment. Get some before they are all gone.