Having spent most of my riding life on flat pedals, I was never all that bothered about my clip-in shoes. I had an old pair of MTB shoes and they did just fine.
But, lockdown kicked in, the gravel bike replaced the MTB and the clipped-in miles went up. With that came the swift realisation that anything beyond occasional clipping-in would need some better shoes. Also came sore feet and achy ankles caused by crap, old shoes and knackered cleats.
Enter the Fizik Terra X5 Suede, courtesy of Extra Distribution.
The Fizik X5 is designed for XC mountain bikers but arrived with me for use on the gravel bike. They have a stiff, carbon sole with deep treads at the toe and heel and the option of screw-in studs for muddy conditions. They certainly feel a lot more like a road/gravel product than one that is designed for mountain biking.
The upper is a soft and very easy-on-the-eye Microtex Suede that’s said to be water-resistant and does a good job of keeping weight and temperature down.
Fastening is a combination of a single velcro strap and a Boa system, which is really easy to use and gives a very comfortable, firm and secure fit.
Since their arrival, I’ve put a couple of hundred KM into the X5 Suedes and been really impressed with almost every detail of them.
The fit is, for my feet at least, perfect. They’re easily the most comfortable pair of cycling shoes I’ve worn. The shape gives a snug but not tight feel and there’s no pressure points or areas of the shoe that feel particularly noticeable.
The Boa and toe strap are very quick and easy to use and give a really pleasing ‘secure’ feel. As you crank the Boa up, your foot gets held in a very firm but very comfortable way that makes them a genuine pleasure to wear.
The outer suede material of the shoes has been trouble-free so far. It feels lightweight and seems to keep my feet cool, certainly far more so than big and clumpy MTB shoes.
That said, the weather has been great here since the X5’s arrived and I’ll need to see how some sustained wet weather bothers them. I suspect they’ll take a little bit of looking after and a bit more cleaning that a plastic shoe.
The suede material, smooth sole and low ‘cuff’ mean they’re probably not ideally suited to colder, weather conditions. As a summer shoe though, they’re going well.
The sole is worth a mention, which is made of stiff carbon and beefed up with those big, grippy teeth at either end. On the pedals, the stiff sole works very nicely and is a great platform to work with. Power goes into the pedals beautifully and there’s no discomfort you might get from a flimsier sole. On rough, bumpy descents I’ve had no trouble.
Grip is an interesting one and you’ll need to consider how you ride.
Those grippy teeth at either end offer a bit of help when you’re pushing your bike but that smooth, curved middle area needs a bit of care.
On foot, you’ll need to be careful when placing the middle area of the sole on slippy roots and rocks or clambering over those icy, green stiles. You’ll need to learn to use those teeth at the toe and heel.
On the pedals, you’ll need to avoid these areas altogether. If you like to rest your foot on the pedal without clipping in (maybe as you hop on and off the bike or if you don’t quite get clipped in straight away) you’ll need to break the habit. There’s no real option to rest a foot on the pedals with the X5 as you may get on a more grippy sole.
From a quick ‘hands up’ poll of my riding buddies this doesn’t seem to be a huge issue, so, may not be something you’ll take issue with.
What do we think?
These clearly aren’t ‘standard’ Wideopenmag fair… but with so many of you branching out into gravel, road and XC we wanted to share something a bit different. They’re marketed for XC mountain biking but the Fizik X5 Suede definitely feels a bit more suited to drop-bar bike riding than aggro off-road.
The X5 looks great, is incredibly comfortable and is very lightweight and breathable to wear. On the bike and in decent weather, they’re an absolute delight.
The low cuff and suede material suggest they’re better suited to drier, warmer weather… So it’s likely I’d end up getting a hardier winter shoe to run alongside these.
Do consider if they fit your riding style. If you tend to unclip rarely and do little walking, these could be a great choice.
Lightweight, cool and airy.
Look great, right?
The Boa and strap combo is very easy to use and feels great.
Could do better:
Unlikely to offer much protection against cold and wet weather.
Slippy sole isn’t great if you spend lots of time clipping in and out or walking.