The Italian saddle and bar tape maker has applied their particular brand of cycling style to the shoe, the third and final contact point between the rider and the bike. The shoe is speckled with little gems that give the R3 a unique flare. The shoe isn’t the lightest at its price point nor does it have the most carbon-per-dollar. Instead of focusing on those easily-measurable characteristics, the Fizik R3 is designed to maximize comfort by creating a precise fit.
At first wear, the R3’s midfoot seems constrictively tight. It has a mid-volume toebox and malleable heel cup, but we found the midfoot to be uncomfortable initially. That excessively tight midfoot feel quickly releases as the upper conforms to the rider’s foot after just a few rides. This molded upper cradles the foot while creating a precise connection between the rider’s foot and the shoe’s sole. Add the stretched midfoot to the well-formed heel and toebox and the R3 becomes an exceptionally comfortable road shoe for riders with mid-volume or low volume feet.
The sole has a carbon spine stretching down the middle of the foot from the cleat back to the heel with a plastic cup wrapping around both sides of the heel. The sole feels more than adequately stiff and allows the foot to roll side to side slightly rather than locking it in place.
The straps are made of fabric Fizik describes as material used to construct sails. They don’t stretch at all. We found the ratchet and Velcro closure system is able to precisely fine-tune the upper’s fit. If you’re looking to cultivate your Euro-cyclist look, the R3’s can help finish the package and their tuned fit is a perfect match for a narrow to mid-volume fit.
Aaron Hersh is senior tech editor of Triathlete magazine. Follow him on Twitter @triathletetech.