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In this first-look review, Matt Wikstrom checks out Fizik’s newest shoe design that features Boa’s latest reel and cable system.
Fizik is well known for its saddles, however the company has been offering shoes in its catalogue since 2011. There are three models in the road range—R1, R3, and R5—where R1 is the most expensive and R5 the least. Each model is handmade in Italy and there are versions to suit men (“Uomo”) and women (“Donna”). Up until now, Fizik has utilised a combination of strap and buckle closures for its shoes but they have added two new models, the R3B and R5B, that feature Boa’s closure system. Rather than simply adding the Boa closures to the existing R3 and R5 designs, Fizik developed new uppers to match the reel and cable system. The new shoes use Boa’s latest reel design, called IP1, which combines incremental tensioning on a ratchet with a quick-release function. Toggling between the two functions is simply a matter of pushing the reel in to engage the ratchet or pulling it out to release the cable. When the ratchet is engaged, the reel rotates in both directions to provide increments and decrements for adjusting the fit of the shoe; once reel is pulled out, the ratchet is released and the spooled cable unwinds without resistance and the shoe can be removed with ease. Looking more closely as the R3B, it has a unidirectional carbon outsole with a standard three-hole cleat mount. There are no vents in the outsole; instead, regular perforations in the upper along with nylon mesh in the tongue serve to cool the foot. The upper is constructed from microtex with extra lining for the heel and some padding for the ankle collar. Fizik’s styling has always been clean and simple and they continue with this ethos for the R3B. The perforated uppers recall an earlier era however the materials are distinctly modern promising a stiff and efficient shoe well suited to racing and performance-oriented riders. Fizik supplies the R3B with standard inners. The R3B is available for men in sizes 42-47 (half-sizes 42.5-45.4) and for women in sizes 38-42 (half-sizes 39.5-40.5). There are two colours for R3B Uomo (matte black with red details, and matte white with black details) and one for R3B Donna (matte white with black details). The appeal of any shoe rests with the suitability of its fit, and in this instance, the R3B was a good (but not perfect) match for my feet. The toe box of these shoes is quite narrow while the rest of the shoe offers a close and supportive fit. Ideally, I would have liked a little extra room in the toe box to accommodate variations in the thickness of my socks and any swelling of my feet. Some days, the fit was near perfect; on others, the shoes started out feeling a little too tight. Riders with wide feet will not be comfortable in these shoes. Boa’s IP1 system is the standout feature, it is very easy and intuitive to use and offers perfect increments of adjustment. I was able to close the shoe with a few quick turns of the reel and only ever needed to ratchet back and forth once or twice to fine-tune the fit. Once set, the tension was spread evenly over my feet and I never had to fuss with it. The quick release function was brilliant too, just pop the reel out and slip the shoes off. Despite the absence of vents in the soles, my feet never overheated in these shoes, even on hot days, arguing for the effectiveness of the perforated uppers. The outsoles are very stiff offering plenty of efficiency, however I would have liked extra markings to help with aligning the cleats. Finally, the R3B shoes are finished superbly, well in line with expectations for a pair of shoes in this price range. Indeed, I can’t find any shortcomings for these shoes. If they suit your feet, then I expect R3B shoes to serve them well for many miles on the bike. RRP: $370. For more information visit Fizik.