Piloti Shoes - Fit and Feel
There is always an element of uncertainty for online shoppers. When it comes to shoes, it's even more important for shoppers to get additional information about fit but also about how the shoes feel. I have tried all models offered on this site in my size (9 regular width) and this post is meant to provide more details about three aspects in particular: fit, driving feel and walking comfort. As you will see, these characteristics may be competing with each other. Not unlike car handling, the stiffer the shoe is, the better it is for driving but at the expense of some comfort.
1. Prototipo GT (leather): This is the most driving focused model available in the casual line-up, a notch below the performance racing boots such as the Competizione and the Superleggera. The fit is narrower than regular shoes and both the leather and the sole are stiff. There is even a rigid toe cap to make them stiffer. For driving, the overall rigidity makes it fantastic for pedal management - it holds your feet square with the pedals and the support at the heel is very good. However, this rigidity does not make them the most comfortable for walking. My Prototipo GT are 9.5 as the 9 are a bit too narrow for my taste. I don't find the 9.5 too long though. Over time, the leather takes its shape and comfort will improve. If you are a racetrack fan and used to racing shoes, you will certainly find the Prototipo GT wider than what you wear at the track. Overall, this is the best model for your occasional track day.
2. Prototipo (suede): This is a more casual version of the Protipo GT. The sole is more flexible, the toe cap is less rigid and of course, the suede is less stiff than the leather. Although this model shares the same name as the Prototipo GT, the width feels more generous. Instead of a rigid support at the heel, it features a large amount of soft padding. The model shares the slightly raised heel of the Prototipo GT, the same traditional lacing, the tapered toe box and the low ankle cut. The fit is true and the width is similar to a running shoe. These shoes are also comfortable for walking. This model is a great compromise between driving feel and walking comfort.
3. Spyder S1 (suede): Think of it as a running shoe adapted for driving. It feels actually almost the same as the Prototipo in suede but flatter for walking. The speed lacing doesn't go as close to the ankle and the toe are is slightly boxy. There's a pull tab on the heel. The support at the heel is a bit less generous than the Prototipo in suede. The fit is true and the width is similar to a running shoe. These shoes are also comfortable for walking. Although this model feels a bit different than the Prototipo in suede, the driving attributes and walking comfort are pretty much the same.
4. Pistone and Circuit (leather): This model is quite cool. The look when you wear them is quite unique. The sole is very flexible and the leather is soft. The colour is very intense. Although there is some support at the heel, the sole is not as structured as the models above, making them flatter. They are the most comfortable shoes for walking, out of the pack. In driving position, the flexible sole makes me feel the pedals underneath my feet and my toes are bending a bit when I press the clutch unlike the models above. The curved sole at the heel makes it better to drive than regular shoes but behind the wheel, the difference is not a noticeable as the models above. The width is standard and the fit is a bit long given the shape of the shoe. I could wear an 8.5 instead of a 9 and walk around the block (but not much longer) without pain so gentlemen, stick to your usual size. Ladies, you may want to order 2 sizes down from the men's sizes instead of 1.5. Overall, the Pistone and Circuit are the most comfortable to walk but not as driving focused as the models above.
5. Superstrada (leather): The shape of this boot cut model is similar to the Pistone, except of course for the fact that it's a boot cut. It's a completely different look than the Pistone and the boot cut makes it special. It features the same flexible sole but the leather is different, slightly stiffer and not perforated so the model is a bit warmer. There are velcro straps at the ankle which gives a feeling that reminds me of the performance racing boots. Behind the wheel, they have the same soft sole meaning I can feel the pedals, and the same curved sole at the heel, providing a feeling is similar to the Pistone above. The width is standard and the fit is a bit long given the shape of the shoe. Ladies, you may want to order 2 sizes down from the men's sizes instead of 1.5. Although still better than regular shoes for driving, this model, like the Pistone, is comfortable for walking and not as driving focused as other models.
6. Mille (leather and suede): This is a luxury boot cut model with a distinctive look. These shoes look chic and sporty at the same time. Interestingly, one would think that because they are dress shoes, they must be narrower but they are actually the widest shoes in the Piloti range! I think it's because of the shape...wider at the foot with narrow sole making them both comfy and functional to drive. I got them in size 9 which is my regular size and I can easily fit in it with thick socks. Going half a size down would be ok for width but probably not for length. These shoes come with a different sole than the ones above, leather with rubber inserts, with a structured heel (as driving shoes should be). The pedal feel is quite good and they are comfortable to walk. Although they are from the luxury collection, I find them more driving focused than the Pistone and Superstrada. They are entirely made in Italy with top quality leather (and hence the price).
7. Officina (leather): This is a luxury loafer with a very Italian look. The cut is quite low with a distinctive shape. I would qualify them as dressed down fancy shoes as opposed to casual shoes. Mine are smokey grey. The colour of the shoes and the two-tone sole are absolutely stunning. The Officina is up there with the Mille in terms of style (wow!), although not as driving focused. The fit is slightly narrow and long like you would expect from fancy Italian loafers but the leather is supple and after wearing them for an hour, they seem to have adapted to my foot shape. They now feel like slippers. The fit is true and they are fine for regular foot width. But if you have a wide foot, I suggest you look at other models as ordering a half size up will make them too long. They are comfortable to walk around keeping in mind that they are luxurious shoes, not sport shoes. The sole is quite soft which provides a great pedal feel. The rolling heel is also great for driving. Although they are better than regular casual loafers behind the wheels, these shoes are all about style with an exotic Italian car flare, ideal for going out in your sports car on a summer night. They are entirely made in Italy with top quality leather (and hence the price).
Hope this helps!