Fizik is a relative newcomer to the cycling shoe market. They have included shoes in their product range for the last four seasons. The new Fizik range has seen all road shoe models updated to incorporate the Boa closure system. The R3B sits as the second to top model in the range, below the flagship R1B and above the R4B and R5B. In the R3B, Fizik provides a simple shoe with broad appeal. The aesthetic of the new range is one of clean lines; uncluttered and minimalist. The result is a shoe that looks quite stylish and at home on the foot during a serious race as well as sitting in the cafe after a long weekend session.
Fizik have made several large design modifications since the previous R3 model. Not only are the straps gone (except one ‘token’ strap), replaced with the Boa system, the leather upper is replaced by laser perforated Microtex. This upper has been totally redesigned to suit the new closure system. The outsole is a rather simple looking unidirectional carbon unit, helping the shoes weigh in at a respectable 235g (claimed) for the size 42.5. Actual weight of the 44s reviewed here was 294g.
Many shoes boast a good specification list, however the proof, as they say, is in the fitting. Shoe fit is often a varied and individual thing, but I found the R3B to immediately give a firm and comfortable fit. I have heard reports of the toe area being too narrow, but this wasn’t the case for my feet. The Microtex upper gives a firm and confidence-giving level of stiffness to the fit. The highlight, really is the Boa IP1 closure system and the way fizik have integrated it to the upper design of the shoe. The single dial system uses a four point attachment design and is truly remarkable in the uniformity of pressure distribution along the length of the shoe. The right shoe dial tightens clockwise and the left shoe anticlockwise. At first this seems counterintuitive to the brain which has been trained to always tighten clockwise. However, after a handful of rides the tightening becomes second nature. The other beautiful feature of the Boa system is the fine level of tension adjustment available with a simple turn of the dial. This makes comfort adjustments during longer rides, easy and effective. Once going to this simple and super effective closure system it is hard to envisage wanting to return to ratchet style systems. The even pressure distribution achieved with a single dial also begs the question whether dual dial systems are necessary.
The only real issue encountered during the review is the breathability of the shoe. The microtex material is perforated and the tongue is a breathable fabric. This provides adequate cooling only for rides up to moderate summer days. However on rides in temperatures exceeding 30 degrees, I was left with hot sweaty feet and wishing Fizik had incorporated some mesh toe or side panels or included outsole breathing holes. The decision to omit these features is understandable because one of the major appealling factors of these shoes is the simplicity of their aesthetic. Personally I prefer shoes with more vents for long rides on hotter days.
Despite the temperature limitations Fizik have delivered a shoe which performs admirably, while maintaining a definite sense of style, which alludes to earlier times in cycling history. This old school simplicity is finely juxtaposed with the modern Boa closure. This fit and comfort of the closure system combined with the shape of the upper truly is the highlight of the shoe. At an RRP of $399 sitting just under 300g per shoe, these will not appeal to those on tight financial or weight budgets. For those who are willing to pay for a stylish, quality Italian made shoe, the R3B hits the mark.
Distributor: Monza Imports Cycling www.fizik.com