I'm just starting to get back into road cycling and in the process of building a bike. One of my last items to buy is shoes, which I'm holding off on because I have a really wide foot. Are there brands that I should try or stay away from? When I last had a road bike I had some Sidi's, and I remember that they were close to torture. Ron Cincinnati, Ohio
Still, good bike shoes—not touring or casual bike shoes—are important. High-end shoes have extremely rigid insoles, which A) transfer a lot of power to the pedals, rather than wasting energy by bending, and B) help protect your foot from discomfort caused by the little cleats that are popular these days.
So, which shoes? As always, you'll need to try a few pairs to decide conclusively, but these days several high-end shoe makers have wide sizes available, so you should be able to find a pair that fits. An example: the Carnac Quartz ($250; www.carnac-sport.com), a nice-looking shoe with a stiff, light carbon sole and convenient four-strap hook-and-loop closures. I wore Carnac shoes for years, and think they're excellent.
Sidi—your past shoe nemesis—also has shoes in wide sizing. They offer "mega" sizing on some shoe models including the Genius 4 ($210; www.sidiusa.com), a very popular shoe that has a ratcheting compression strap and two hook-and-loop straps for a very secure fit. You can find them on sale for $159 at some locations such as Colorado Cyclist, although size availability is limited.
Finally, while Diadora's shoes come in only one width, I've found them to be a little more forgiving than Sidi's or Carnac's standard width. You might take a look at the Diadora Ergo ($149; www.diadora.com), a decent road shoe at a decent price.
For more of the year's finest road-cycling gear, check out the "Essential Road Cyclist" from Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide.