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I've ridden a few pairs of cycling shoes over the years. I had some nylon soled Specialized shoes in high school and rode Shimanos, then Axo's, during my MTB days in the late 90's. All very low tech. When I started road riding again in 2006 I went cheap again with some entry level Shimanos. I ended up winning a slick pair of Scott shoes in a prime but they didn't fit. I sold them and went for my first pair of carbon road shoes, again from Shimano. They worked well enough. Stiff, stylish, but a bit thick in the sole. I wore those things out and went for a set of Bontrager RL's. A super thin carbon sole got me closer to the pedals but they never really fit me quite right. I never got my cleats in a good position and the screws from the cleats kept poking through to my feet. The toe box collapsed and I ended up having to warranty the shoes. They just didn't fit my feet. I actually think my season suffered a bit last year because of the shoes.
The Jet Racer is now what I'm on. Just like my Pradas, the Jet Racers are worth every bit their $459 MSRP. I finally had the chance to put some good miles on the kicks last weekend in St. George.
Out of the box, these shoes are sexy. There's 4 color options for the Jet Racer and they come with a very cool lizard skin pattern that blends nicely with the standard Diadora graphic. I'm wearing a size 43, a half size smaller than the Bontragers, but a half size bigger than my last Shimanos. It seems to be a sweet spot for the Diadora sizing for my foot.
The sole is truly a work of art. The woven carbon lower shell is thin and stiff and heavily vented. This venting is part of the Net Breathing System, which is much more than just simple holes for air to pass through. Its actually a multi layer, breathable structure which includes vented insole, a waterproof breathable membrane, a wire mesh and then the carbon sole. Again, a work of art. The photos I have hear don't begin to do it justice. There's also a replaceable heal and toe pad.
The Jet Racer comes with Diadora's Regular Race Last, meaning its a purposeful, snug fit. I think a cycling shoe should fit like a ski boot and make you feel connected to the bike. However, a little room is nice so your feet can swell a bit as can happen on long rides. My feet feel right at home in these shoes. On the first ride they felt like my old Shimanos did after years of riding, meaning they were comfortable, so comfortable in fact I forgot I had shoes on at all. I assuming they are narrower than other non-italian brands, but I can only say for sure they are more narrow than the Shimanos but not as narrow as the Bontragers. My heel feels solidly locked into the shoe, the plastic heel cup doing its job.
I also seemed to have nailed my cleat placement. Amazing since I never felt like I had it quite right on the Bontragers. Two trips up and down the street is all it took. Don't know if that had anything to do with the shoes, but it was a nice bonus!
The Jet Racers are the real deal. I'm a firm believer that you get what you pay for. When I was spending crazy money on my dress shoes, it was well worth it when I was still wearing those shoes 5 years later. Some of those shoes have passed on, but I keep re-soling a pair of Pradas because the uppers and insoles are holding up so well. Diadora spreads the Jet Racer's features across the line and you can find the unique Net Breathing System soles on the less expensive Vortex and Mig Racers as well. There's also a full carbon sole on the Aerospeed Carbon and Aeorspeed Women's shoes. But dollar for dollar, there's no better shoe that money can buy than the Jet Racer.