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Fizik's R3B Uomos are comfortable, stiff-soled shoes with a Boa closure system that's easy to adjust on the fly.
The B bit of the R3B name stands for Boa, but even putting the closure system to one side these are very different from Fizik's standard R3s. Those are all kangaroo leather and nylon mesh whereas the uppers here are made from the manmade fabric Microtex. They're perforated more or less throughout – those holes you can see in the uppers go all the way through.
The perforations don't let as much air in and out as mesh but they do cover most of your foot, the only exceptions being the toe and heel. Along with the breathable tongue, they mean that your feet do stay surprisingly cool and sweat free, even on hot rides.
Boa's IP1 closure system comprises a super-strong steel lace and a clicky-turny dial. The right one tightens clockwise and the left one tightens anticlockwise. That might sound weird but it feels natural because on both sides you push away with your thumbs to make the fit tighter.
I've heard people complain about the longevity of Boas but I've used them in various shoes for several years without any problems. What I particularly like is their ease of adjustment. You just reach down and turn the dial a notch or two to tighten them up, or turn it the opposite way to let a bit of lace back through. You can even do that if you're wearing thick overshoes on top. When it's time to take the shoes off, you just pop the dial up and let the lace out in one go.
You get just one Boa dial per shoe here but that was sufficient for me to get a secure yet still comfortable fit. I've had other shoes with two Boa dials but I've not noticed a benefit either way. The lower closure is Velcro-backed Sailcloth that you'll rarely, if ever, need to adjust once you have it set.
The big difference between these R3B shoes and the R5Bs (£130) that Dave recently fell in love with is the sole. Whereas the R5Bs have a carbon-reinforced nylon sole, the R3Bs have a unidirectional carbon-fibre outsole. Dave said there was "a small amount of flex when you push really hard on the pedals" with the R5Bs. I couldn't discern any flex at all here.
There's virtually no difference in the weight between the two models, Dave's R5Bs weighing 602g and these R3Bs weighing 598g in size 45. That means that you're effectively paying £85 more for the R3B's extra sole stiffness.
The sole comes with a replaceable heel and three cleat bolt holes. You get markings that are intended to help you position your cleats identically, although I set mine a long way back, totally obscuring those markings, so they didn't work for me.
I found the R3Bs instantly very comfortable, the uppers conforming easily to my foot shape and the Boa system providing a secure closure without any pressure points. A firm heel counter helps keep everything in shape when you're pedalling hard, good padding inside the heel provides more comfort there, and a little extra depth in the area of the insole above the cleat avoids discomfort there.
All in all, these are very good shoes. The only question is whether you're willing to pay an extra £85 over the R5Bs for a very small gain in performance.
Comfortable, stiff-soled shoes with a Boa closure system that's easy to adjust on the fly
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Make and model: Fizik R3B Uomo Mens road shoes
Size tested: 11 - white
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
Closure System: Boa IP1
Materials: Microtex laser perforated
Outsole: UD Carbon Fiber
Insole: fi'zi:k Cycling Insole
Available Size: 40-47 and 48
Weight: 230 gr
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
If you want to know about the Boa closure system, head over to their website www.boatechnology.com.
They are handmade in Italy, and it's all done very well.
The R5Bs are about the same weight and they're £85 cheaper, so they got a better score for weight.
I think that the R5Bs offer better value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These are great shoes although you can get an almost equal level of performance £85 cheaper in the R5Bs.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The Boa closure, the overall fit and feel. I like the looks too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing in particular, but you are paying quite a bit more over the R5Bs for a very small step up in performance.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
These are very good shoes, the only issue is that these are £85 more expensive than the R5Bs which are almost as good. I imagine many people will still want these by virtue of the fact that the soles are carbon fibre rather than carbon-reinforced nylon.
Age: 43 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: 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.