When people talk of Italian cycling brands, they associate them with heritage and soul. Fizik has both these attributes in the bucket load. Another association is that if it's Italian, it's temperamental and doesn't always work, but in the case of the R1B Road Shoe, Fizik are the exception.
Italian brands have always been guilty of sticking to traditional methods and materials to manufacture their products. Look at Colnago, still using lugged frames, a format that they haven't changed in 65 years. The same could be said for Sidi, who still use leather in their shoes. So has Fizik been the good traditional Italian brand? Not really. And can you blame them? This is the new competitive world where everyone, professional and amateur alike, is after the latest technology to ride in. Brands simply do not have the option to retain these undeniably unique, but expensive production methods if they wish to remain in the competitive market.
Fizik have addressed this change in the times and have created the R1B Road Shoe with a synthetic Fizik manufactured upper material called Laser Perforated Microtex. This is the same material that they now use on their saddles. Where it differs from the traditional leather is that it's lighter, more durable, breathable and, most importantly, comfortable. It’s also notably better in the wet, which is testimony to why pro riders such as Geraint Thomas and Philippe Gilbert have opted for the shoe. Does it lose the authentic feel that you get with leather? Actually, no! It is an undeniably great looking shoe that maintains the same graining as leather.
Although on the narrower side, the shoe is sublimely comfortable. It’s ability to snugly encase the foot without causing discomfort is a true feat (if you’ll pardon the pun) of design excellence. As someone who has always struggled to find comfort in a shoe, I was skeptical of this narrower fit but the suppleness of the material really allows it to mould around the foot. This is all superfluous without the technology to encase your foot in the shoe.
The ‘B’ in the name refers to the new closure system by Boa. The Boa closure system is one that was first designed for ski boots. Now available for a variety of sporting goods, Fizik have adopted the double BOA IP1. This latest version of their closure system is an absolute leap from their previous model. It’s more durable and has a lower profile, making the overall aesthetics and profile more stealth-like and aero. These can now be dialed tighter and looser with incremental precision to change the fit of the shoe for different foot shapes for optimal comfort. That sounds like sales jargon, but that really is the feeling that you get when you ride with this shoe. The upper material combined with this unique closure system makes the comfort sublime. And we haven't even touched on the material that makes all cyclists tick, carbon.
The outsole, as you would expect for a shoe worn by the current Tour de Flanders Champion, does indeed have a uni-directional carbon fibre outsole. This means all the fibres are aligned in the same direction to remove any flex whilst remaining extremely low profile. The result is an extremely stiff but astonishingly light shoe. A mere 220g in fact for a size 42. This is a whole 60g lighter than its nearest Italian competitor. The stiffness reflects in the riding. The power transfers so freely through the shoe and pedal stroke and onto the road. The carbon sole also boasts fantastic ventilation improving its aerodynamics and making it suitable for the warmest of days.
Another beneficial addition is the replaceable heel pad which is something overseen in many high end road shoes. This allows the shoe to be more regularly used without worrying about the irreversible wear and tear that the sole suffers.
Aesthetically, this is a great looking shoe. It feels light and nimble as you’re pushing through quick pedal strokes but remains comfortable throughout those longer rides. The materials are light but durable making this a long lasting, high performance shoe. The question that is commonly asked is ‘if you could buy one bike, what would it be?’ Ask the same question about the cycling shoe and little protest would be had by opting for the Fizik R1B Road Shoes.
- Beautifully constructed
- Durable design
- Replacement heel pad prolongs shoe's life
- BOA dials enhance fit and are easy to adjust on the move
- Not the lightest shoes on the market
- Narrow fit may not suit all