Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fizik R3 Road Shoe Review

Fresh Out Of The Box, And Ready For Action.  They Also Come In Red Or Black.

In a previous article on choosing the correct road shoe (“Cycling Shoes – Is Spending More Really Better?” Cycling Dynamics,11-12-2012), I wrote the most important aspect one should shop for was the stiffest carbon sole they could afford.  Well, with the Fizik line of shoes, the rule of a stiff carbon sole definitely holds true.

I have been using the R3’s for about three weeks now, and while that does not constitute a long-term test, the immediate feedback from my rides is quite clear – These are the best darn shoes I have ever tried.  That is quite a tall statement, however, once you try these shoes, I firmly believe you will agree.  Fizik hand makes them in Italy, and they are designed to invoke the look (and feel) of a fine, high-end Italian shoe.  They succeeded.

Perforations For Cooling, Black Portions Of Kangaroo Skin, And Sleek Italian Lines Mark The R3

The material has been described in some reviews as cow and Kangaroo hide (the R1’s are).  In reality, the main uppers are made of Fizik’s own Microtex material, and the toe and heel areas are made of Kangaroo hide.  In plain language – Both are very tough and durable materials.  There are two Velcro straps made out of very stylish (and durable) sail-cloth, with cool looking Zinc tips.  While the R1 shoe gets a carbon buckle, the R3 gets the Zinc treatment on its buckle, and that is OK with me.  Though I am not too big on ratcheting buckles, the Fizik version is a whole lot easier to use and adjust than Sidi buckles I have encountered.  As for the sail cloth straps, they are very light weight, and are extremely easy to use.  Ventilation is handled by perforation in the tops and insides of the shoes, however, I will have to wait until summer to test the cooling capacity of the R3’s.  The sculpted sole has to be seen, and tried on the bike, to believe.  Until you have tried a durable carbon sole, you have not felt what it is like to experience pure power going straight through the pedals.  As the sole is sculpted towards the heel, it curves into what Fizik calls the “Mobius Rail.”  I don’t know what that is, but it sure seems to work, as I felt no detectable heel lift, even when hammering out of the saddle.  Fizik was also intelligent enough to put some of the smoothest, easily replaceable rubber pads on the sole to aid in walking, and they eliminate a lot of the “Clickity-Clack” you get from walking in cycling shoes.

A Well Marked Sole Makes Cleat Placement A No-Brainer

The Mobius Rail, Sculpted Heel, And Replaceable, Rubber Heel Pad.

Beautiful, Graceful Lines And Subtle Graphics.

And now for something completely different.  For reasons unfathomable to this mild-mannered evaluator, the entire Fizik shoe line has been revamped for 2013.  While the sail cloth, buckle and excellent carbon sole remain, the uppers are now nylon and Kangaroo skin, and the built-in arch supports are supposedly lower.  This was apparently done in response to people claiming fit issues and size discrepancies.  I myself was told to try a size 47, though my usual size is a 48.  The rule of thumb, reviews claimed, was Fizik’s run large.  Well, they do not.  The Fizik size 48 fit me perfectly, and anything smaller just would not have worked.

So, what does this all add up to?  Well, in my opinion, I would get hold of the 2012 R3’s ASAP before they disappear.  Yes, they are that good, and with the release of the 2013 model line, they can be had for a bargain (retail is $299.99 USD).

In regards to the 2013 line, I am not skeptical on how good of a shoe it will be.  They do, however, remind me of a track shoe (the running kind) in their construction, and I am not sure how that will play out durability and comfort-wise for cyclists.  I also do not understand why Fizik took one of the most unique looking shoes on the market and turned them into rather ordinary looking ones.

Not that I would refuse a pair for evaluation, though.    

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