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It's time for me to get a new pair of shoes. Being fairly new to Cross (but not to cycling) the question has raised itself many times in our club "are carbon soles better than nylon soles for cross?"

I've trawled the sites and forums and hope that someone can help me on this.

I guess Carbon gives you added stiffness in the pedal action but Nylon gives you more flexibility when running off the bike. Its gets fairly muddy here in the UK so toe spikes are a must as you clamber up the steep hills. So is it Sidi Spiders (nylon) or Sidi Eagle/Dragons (carbon)????.....

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Since 10 days I am a proud owner of sidi dragons after having had the cheaper model for years. The dragon is really a step forward. The carbon sole is much stiffer when pedaling but running is no problem. One advantage are the more flexible spikes in the sole which are dampening the impact when running. Also the fitting is better. Maybe it is the heel support or they can be better tightened. Anyway the feeling is not so slippery when pedaling.

 

Thanks Thomas, did you have nylon soles before the Dragons?
I have had Eagle 5 Pro. These had soles out of nylon and were quite flexible. I would not overestimate the amont of running. If you must run the soil is mostly soft and the overall distance is mostly not more than 20 m.
Joel, I pondered the same thing when shoe-shopping this summer.  I ended up getting a pair of Giro Codes, which have a carbon sole made by Easton, and it's pretty stiff.  I can tell you that, for me, it makes running a LOT easier.  My old shoes are Shimanos with relatively a much more flexible sole, and I didn't realize how much it hampered my running, especially on steep hills.  I went with the Codes because they fit so well, but I will certainly opt for a stiffer sole in the future.

Jim, great to hear from you

My current shoes too are Shimanos with a fairly flexible sole, Q: why do the stiffer soles help when running when compared to the nylon??...Apologies for the second question, its just that Shoes can get rather expensive and would hate to get the decision wrong!

I honestly can't say, because it seems counter-intuitive to me, but I have a couple of thoughts about it.  The first is that I have a really narrow foot that is sort of a 10 1/4.  I have a hard time finding shoes of any kind that fit.  The Shimanos generally fit poorly, and it has gotten worse as they've aged.  The Giros fit my feet better than any cycling shoe I've had in the 20+ years I've ridden.  So, I could be responding to the fact that they just fit better.  Also, I'm a relatively heavier rider (165lbs at my fighting weight), so the stiffer sole is bound to support my weight better.  It just feel like I've got a more solid platform, especially when running up hills.  I can say that, beyond the difference in fit, I don't perceive any difference in the sole when pedaling.  I probably would on the road if I were wearing them for hours, but for a short cx ride, I don't really notice anything.   
I have a cheaper pair of Shimano shoes with the nylon soles and at the beginning of MTB season got a deal on the fancy carbon soles.  I figured that I wouldn't like them for cross due to the stiff carbon soles, but ended up using them anyways since I like the feel on the bike better.  I didn't find them to be a drawback at all.  If I was on a course with a long run say a sandy beach I might revert to my other shoes, but prefer my carbon soles for most courses. 
I prefer softer bottom shoes. I use only Rubber soled shoes for CX. Also, I don't like super stiff shoes for CX. I little bit of give helps with running and is more comfortable to wear. If your shoe gives one or two mm under pressure you will not see any measurable loss of power to the drive-train.  

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