Upstart brand Udog brings a fresh idea to cycling shoes

The new direct-to-consumer brand boasts some industry heavy-hitters and a novel idea.

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For the most part, cycling shoes — regardless of make or model — are subtle variations on similar themes. And so while there may be dramatic differences in things like fit and feel, the basic concepts generally aren’t too different. 

Which is exactly why the Tensione from upstart brand Udog — short for underdog — seems so intriguing.

At first glance, the Tensione is pretty straightforward. The brainchild of former Fizik brand director Alberto Fonte (who was also the sales and marketing director for Kask, and sales director at Pinarello) and Antonio Geromiletto (former business manager at Fizik and Crankbrothers), Udog aims to provide high-performance cycling footwear with simple, understated styling and strong-value pricing courtesy of the company’s direct-to-consumer business model.

The toe box is rather squared off, and does look pretty roomy.

For US$200 / €150 (pricing for other regions is still to be determined), the Tensione gives you a classic-looking lace-up mesh-and-TPU upper bonded atop a ventilated and carbon-reinforced nylon three-bolt plate. Udog says the last has been designed with a deep heel cup for a secure hold, and a “generous” toe box so your piggies have room to wiggle.

Color choices? Black or white – simple. Minimal graphics. They’re also pretty light with a claimed weight of 490 g per pair (size 42), helped along by the elimination of any metal or plastic hardware, which also presumably reduces the risk of pressure points or hot spots.

Nothing crazy.

Well … except for those unusual straps on the sides of the shoe. 

These straps wrap around underneath your foot, and tighten as you tighten the laces.

Dubbed the Tension Wrap System, this concept does bring to mind some similar ideas that use straps that are separate from the upper for zonal support (such as Fizik’s Vento Stabilita Carbon). But the key difference with Udog’s Tension Wrap System is that the straps wrap directly around the sides and bottom of your foot — not through the rigid sole, like on the Bont Helix — which theoretically should snug things up through the midsection. Udog says this improves power transfer during the upstroke (which honestly seems rather dubious), but what I’m more curious about is how this affects the shoe’s fit and feel. 

Will this Tension Wrap System thing actually make the shoe better than it would be without it? I don’t know, but I’m so curious — and given that CyclingTips has been promised one of the earliest samples for a review, it sounds like I’ll find out sooner than later.

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