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Fizik's new R3 is a light, supple and very comfortable race shoe.
Fizik – fi'zi:k, if you want to get all precise about it – have completely revamped their shoe lineup for 2013. Read our news story from Eurobike for the full SP on the entire range.
The R3 is the middle priced of the three men's road shoes and it's also available in a women's version. It's the lightest model in the range by just a few grams and it'll be the one that Fizik's professional riders use next year. It has been designed with athletes in mind.
Fizik have changed the R3 loads this time around. Whereas before it was quite narrow with a very high arch, now it uses a last that should be far more popular.
It comes with a different carbon-fibre outsole from before – the one previously used on the R1. Like most these days, it's super-stiff. If there's any flex at all in the sole, I can't detect it.
The uppers are made from kangaroo leather and nylon mesh – it's obvious which bits are which. The leather is amazingly supple and the mesh lets air blow more or less straight through to keep your feet cool. That's great news in hot weather like we had for our initial rides at the Italian launch, but back in the colder UK it meant we had to resort to overshoes sooner than with most other shoes. As I said, these are intended as high-end performance shoes so that's not a criticism.
The straps are made using sailcloth to resist stretching and Fizik reckon they'll last ages. The two lower straps are fastened with Velcro while the top one gets an aluminium ratchet closure, and they're all easily adjusted from the saddle.
I was disappointed to find that the ratchet wouldn't tighten enough for my foot... until I discovered that I could shorten the strap. It threads through a loop and doubles back on itself, and is held in place by more Velcro so adjustment takes seconds. Result!
In use, the R3s feel incredibly soft. Yes, the outsoles are stiff but the EVA insole, the padded tongue, and lots of foam padding around the ankle all add loads of comfort. The same goes for the kangaroo leather and mesh; they're not stretchy but they are both flexible enough to conform to the shape of your foot. Don't get me wrong, they hold your foot firmly in place, but comfortably rather than through coercion and violence. As well as loads of shorter rides, I've done several all-day rides in these and they've felt as good in the last 20 miles as in the first 20 so, although everything else might have been aching, at least my feet still felt good.
You might think that £220 is a lot to spend on a pair of shoes, and you'd be right, of course. It's not my job to convince you to buy a pair but you might want to consider that these are handmade in Italy and the quality is excellent. As well as the materials I've mentioned, the embroidered logos are a neat touch, for example, as is the fact that the back of the tongue is decorated as an Italian tricolore.
These things won't make a jot of difference to the performance, they're just... cool. I reckon the R3s look stylish all round. As well as this white/royal blue option, they come in black/red/white too.
Lightweight, supple and very comfortable race shoes.
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Make and model: Fizik R3 shoes
Size tested: White/blue, 46
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Professional Cycling Shoes
Handmade in Italy
Materials: Kangaroo Leather/Nylon Mesh
Outsole: Carbon Fiber
Straps: Sail Cloth Resistant
Tongue: Pocket Construction
Insole: fi'zi:k Cycling Insole
Weight: 229 g (size 43)
Sizes: 40-47 and 48
There's no doubt they're expensive but they have carbon-fibre soles kangaroo leather in the uppers, a high-quality ratchet, and they're handmade in Italy. They're never going to be cheap. (Remember when top-end shoes were £100? It wasn't all that long ago).
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They perform very well. There are lighter shoes out there but these are among the most comfortable I've ever used.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The level of comfort – it's high whether you're on your first mile or your hundredth.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd rather the heel and toe protectors were replaceable for long-term durability.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? They'd be on the shortlist.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.