With our minds very much on events in Italy, this latest delivery to RCUK Towers is timely.
Vittoria (not to be confused with the tyre brand), an Italian company making shoes, helmets, and a small range of clothing, is the brain child of Celestino Vercelli, gregario in a former life to Roger de Vlaeminck at the Brooklyn team.
Some of the best riders in the history of the sport have worn Vittoria shoes, including those who have left their mark on the Giro, current maglia rosa, Luca Paolini, among them.
The pair arrived for test is the flagship Hora Evo, a carbon-soled race shoe with a number of interesting features, and to bring the story bang up to date, Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) has ridden to the two biggest victories of his career this season in a pair – at Tirenno-Adriatico and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Let’s look a little closer.
The stiffness of a carbon sole has made them de rigeur in the peloton where effective power transfer is the most important consideration. We’re expecting an inflexible approach from the unidirectional base of these offerings, one just 3mm deep from heel to toe.
Four mesh-covered vents run in a straight line down the middle of the sole, the largest of which is positioned just behind the cleat, beneath the arch of the foot.
The sole is drilled to accept cleats mounted at three points, a welcome sight to owners of Shimano, LOOK, and Time pedals. Vittoria’s UK distributor, Chicken Cycles, assure us the shoes can be used in standard trim with Speedplay cleats, too, without the need for adaptors. We’ll be testing them with LOOK’s grey cleat.
The sole is treated in the area surrounding the mounting points, and has a slightly abrasive feel, intended to protect the carbon from the cleat, and to provide a more stable contact.
A removable plastic block raises the heel to protect the sole when walking, and there’s a non-removable block at the toe, too. Walking on and in carbon soles is an activity best limited to the absolute minimum, in our experience.
The closure mechanism
The Hora Evo is unusual in its closures: it has two. Think of it as a belt and braces approach to securing the shoe, a principal that strikes us as no bad thing, providing it does not impair circulation. Time will tell.
A ratchet strap at the ankle is now standard on the modern cycling shoe (while few still use laces, the Dromarti Race shoe has been our ‘go to’ footwear since it entered our possession this time last year, and Giro’s Taylor Phinney-approved Empire shoe and the Bont Zero favoured by Bradley Wiggins prove it is not yet considered obsolete by the world’s best riders).
More interesting is the use of ratchet strap with “Micrometric Cable Closure”. The latter is another commonly-used technology (Northwave’s SBS mechanism won our approval when we reviewed their Extreme Tech shoe last year), although Vittoria claim a patent on their variation.
A dial mounted on the upper, in the centre of the foot, is equipped with an elegant hinged lever, which can be lifted to tighten a cable fed in a neat figure of eight between four mounting points, controlling tension over the transverse arch. Early fittings suggest an extremely efficient mechanism.
Most of the upper is fashioned from a synthetic fabric with a soft, rubberised feel. Stitching of the panels is extremely neat. The toe looks robust and the heel cup is a firm plastic with mesh inserts for cooling (see also the mesh side panels).
A removable insole is printed with a pledge for an ergonomic fit, lined on its upper surface with a sheet of perforated fabric, and on its underside with a synthetic, cork-like material similarly ventilated. Remove the insole, and the holes corresponding to the mesh vents in the carbon sole are visible. The heel cup is lined on the inside with a perforated, polyester-like material.
The tongue is only lightly padded, and bereft of any mechanism for adding extra layers, something we’ve experienced with Vittoria’s Italian rival, Fizik. It looks far from a deal-breaker at this stage, but it’s something we’ll consider during testing.
Vittoria claim a weight of 276 grams per shoe for the Hora Evo. Our Park Tool tabletop digital scale registered 317 grams, sans cleats, a notable discrepancy in terms of bald figures, but unlikely to be discernable on the bike.
We’ll be out riding in the Vittoria Hora Evo shoe in the weeks ahead. Check back soon for a full review.