The Fizik R3 Uomo has been on my most wanted list since I first saw them in August last year. A patient wait ended last week with their arrival at RCUK Towers.
On the scales the size 44s register a slight 595 grams, apparently lighter than their big brothers, the R1. The differences? Well, the R1 has a custom-mouldable insole, and a carbon rather than aluminum buckle. Price-wise, the R3 will set you back a penny less than £220, and the R1, £80 more.
Fizik have tuned the carbon footbed of the shoes and are claiming that the revised shape will fit a wider range of feet. Testing of this rather bling hoof-wear will commence on some long rides as soon as this infernal damp clears up.
The soft kangaroo leather feels excellent and has formed a good shape for my toes, while the heel cup seems to provide excellent support also. The uppers are in large part formed from mesh, which should mean some nicely cooled feet when climbing a col in summer. The supple mesh slips over the foot neatly.
The bindings are fashioned from very tough, reinforced sailcloth. The lower pair fasten with Velcro, while the upper strap is secured with a ratchet mechanism. This feels very positive adding to our positive initial impression. The psychologically important final tighten, made on the fly in the closing kilometres of a race, looks like it will be easy to achieve. Let’s see.
The full carbon sole has a smooth, sculpted form, with a minimal collection of adjustment markings, and extremely simple firm, rubber grips at the heel and tip of the toe. This is certainly not a shoe for prolonged walking, perhaps suitable only for the short clatter from team bus to bike, or from bike to podium. David Millar, the face of Fizik’s ad campaign, is better placed to advise on this aspect than your humble scribe. This is a race shoe, and as such is being supplied to all the Fizik sponsored riders this season.
The insole supports my mildly high arch well and feels considerably better than my longtime favourite shoe, the venerable, but with the passing of the years, increasingly vulnerable, Nike Ventoux II. If a really custom fit is required then you can upgrade the insole to the 3D flex moldable version that is supplied as standard in the R1. This will obviously come at a price – some £60 – but if you are set on the colourway, or find the styling of the R3 just the job, it might be worth investigating. We’ll try and get our hands on a pair of the insoles to find out what a difference they make.
In the meantime, I’m doing a sunshine dance along with the rest of you, and hoping to get my legs out of winter tights, and my feet into a pair of suitably long socks to pair with the R3’s. David Millar – eat your heart out!