Sophisticated Cyclist – fi’zi:k R5B Men’s Cycling Shoes in Review

fizik r5b road cycling shoes review

Roll out the red carpet because the fi’zi:k R5B’s will have you dressed to impress. They carry the hallmarks of Italian shoe design; slender and stylish. A perfect match for your Italian tailored Armani suit – except that road cycling in a suit is fairly impractical. 

While I realise that looks alone don’t make these shoes winners, the R5B’s are off to an impressive start when you consider that the R5B UOMO cycling shoes are the entry level fizik’s; the current range continues to R4B, R3B, with the R1B’s at the helm. Bucking the trend of ugly and basic shoes in the bottom end, fizik gives cyclists an impressive shoe, though their pricing of this entry level shoe at $239.95 also solidifies their positioning as a premium cycling brand.

 

fi’zi:k R5B’s in Detail

The R5B has a matt black synthetic upper which has a lot of neatly positioned perforations along with grey sections which are reflective at night. The upper has been moulded and has no seams except at the heel. The toe cap and heel are comparatively stiffer while the middle section offers a bit more flexibility to adapt to the riders foot.

fizik italian cycling shoes

cycling shoe heel

The lacing system uses a velcro strap and a Boa dial on each shoe; the B in R5B stands for ‘Boa’. The Boa dial is brilliant, turn the dial forward to tighten, turn the dial backwards to back-off a little and pull the dial out to completely release the laces. I love this system for the elegance and simplicity. My wider feet will complain inside narrow shoes so the ability to adjust the laces while riding is important, particularly with swelling in the heat. Inside the shoe is a simple insole. I tried cycling with this, but as I explain later standard insoles are not for me.

fizik boa

laces velcro boa

The sole of the shoe is made from carbon reinforced nylon which is quite good for this price range. While cheaper shoes typically just use nylon, adding carbon particles can increase the stiffness. Fizik don’t release details on the exact material make-up so I performed a completely unscientific test… the ‘twist test’. In the line up were some basic Shimano’s with nylon only soles, the fizik R5B’s, and some Northwave’s with full carbon soles. Simply attempting to twist the soles of each shoe with my hands had the nylon only soles twisting the most, the carbon reinforced nylon shoes of the fizik twisting ‘a little’, and the full carbon soles resisting completely.

fizik cycling shoes review

Each of the fizik models above the R5B have an increased level of carbon fibre in the soles through to full carbon fibre soles and the difference is also reflected in the price. To give a bit of context, for recreational cycling and even club level competition, the stiffness and performance of the R5B’s will be fine (but if you want more, go for it).

On the soles is a 3 bolt system for fastening so an adaptor is required if you use Speedplay 4 bolt cleats. The heel and toes have in-moulded stoppers to provide some clearance and grip while walking around. I prefer replaceable stoppers, though these ones are both relatively high and dense so it would take a lot of walking to wear these down.

 

The fit and the ride

Regular Shimano SPD-SL’s were fastened and care taken to get exactly the right position. Each shoe brand and even cycling shoe model has a slightly different form and markings so cleat setup involves a trial and error approach – after the first ride, I had to adjusted both cleats slightly once I was aware of the positioning.

Shimano SPD SL cleats

The fiziks are wonderfully slender – a common trait of fine Italian cycling shoes, but with the size 43 I had a fairly good fit without too much excess space in the toes. My heel was nicely seated and adjusting the velcro and boa dial made my feet feel comfortably and securely stowed.

fizik cycling shoes

But… the first ride was not great: I forgot to swap over my insoles which have been heat-moulded to match my feet perfectly. Some riders will be happy with the standard soles, but most will still benefit from better foot support for both comfort and performance.

With another minor cleat adjustment and my own insoles, it was a brighter day. Being slender shoes, I needed to wear thin socks and adjust the laces during the course of a ride. The boa adjustments were a pleasure – so easy and quick. It beats ratchets hands-down.

During the cool Australian winter mornings, I went without booties or toe-caps and didn’t have any concerns about cold or hot feet. The thicker microtex upper will provide a fair bit of warmth and insulation, despite the perforations. If you suffer from hot feet while riding, I suggest looking at a shoe with a thinner upper or more ventilation.

In terms of performance I don’t have any concerns. Heading up or down hills, in the bunch or launching ahead, the fizik didn’t let me down.  As a recreational cycling shoe or for amateur competition, if these fit you well then you will be on top of your game.

While can’t report any short-comings with the performance and quality of the R5B’s, the fit will be an issue for riders with wider feet such as myself. On longer rides the friction and pressure against the widest parts of the feet can quickly translate into discomfort and pain. At the bike shop, when you try on shoes, it is imperative to ensure that the cycling shoes are supportive as well as comfortable.

And finally, returning to the design, the dominant black styling made these fit well with most of my cycling gear – did I already mention that they look great?

fizik rb5 review

In summary, I love the style and I love the (boa) dial. I would, however, also like to see a slightly wider sizing option without making it too bulbous or wide and losing the Italian flavour. It’s a classy shoe which delivers while keeping the pricing at a very reasonable $239.95 (RRP). When you factor in the quality of these Italian cycling shoes then they are also good value.

In Australia, the fizik R5B’s mens cycling shoes are available in sizes 40 – 48 with half-sizes from 42.5 to 46.5. A white version is also available and has an even bigger range of sizes. Fizik are imported by Monza Imports and are available at bike shops across Australia.



Product Details:

fi'zi:k R5B Men's Cycling Shoes (RRP $ 239,95)

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About The Author

Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a professional design business, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.

One response to “Sophisticated Cyclist – fi’zi:k R5B Men’s Cycling Shoes in Review”

  1. minhyy says:

    These are really pretty – they might just have to find space next to my two pairs of R3s!