We continue our guide to this year's best bike shoes...
The Aria 3 (301g) is at the higher end of Fizik’s range, one down from the top-end Infinito. As such it attracts a heavy price tag but one that’s justified by such an impressive ride. A perfect fit is guaranteed thanks to what Fizik call ‘Enhanced Volume Control’, two micro-adjust Boa dials that run steel-coated nylon laces via plastic guides. A simple press, rotate and your foot’s in place; a gentle tug up releases the dials, relieves the lace pressure and you can slip out. Yes, it might not be as quick as a basic strap mechanism in T1 and T2 but the difference is compensated by the fit. The uni-directional carbon outsole is lightweight and laterally stiff, with the discrete toe and heel stud adding purchase when off the bike.
Verdict: not cheap but extremely comfy and beautifully made, 88%
Buy from www.merlincycles.com
Yes, near enough £350 for a pair of bike shoes. Even more remarkable is that the RC Ultimate (274g) aren’t the most expensive from Scott. That ‘honour’ goes to the £399 RC SLs, which feature carbon in the upper. Justifying that price is a near impossible task but they give it a good stab, and they’re incredibly comfortable. Scott’s ‘Wrap Fit’ is the reason why. It’s a layer of synthetic leather that’s reassuringly cosy. A carbon outsole with a stiffness rating of 10 maximises energy transfer between foot and pedal, while the Boa IP-1 system gives micro-adjustments for a perfect fit but slightly slower transition. Customisability comes in the form of Scott’s ErgoLogic footbed with pads supplied for high-, medium- and low-arched feet. scott-sports.com
Verdict: fantastic shoe but you’ll need to dig deep, 85%
Buy from www.evanscycles.com
Giant have spread their knowledge to these slick-looking road shoes (280g). Two Boa dials keep your feet in place; again, this mechanism ensures the shoe feels like an extension of your lower limb at the cost of a slower exit from T1. The upper’s constructed from a lightweight synthetic material with a small amount of padding, meaning comfort – especially when barefoot – isn’t comparable to a shoe like Shimano’s TR5. A carbon composite outsole ably transfers power, though whether it’s the material used, its thin composition or thin insole, we felt the cleat through the shoe, particularly when laying down the power. Five mesh vents allow cooling airflow and the heel studs are replaceable. giant-bicycles.com
Verdict: issues deriving from cleats loses marks, 72%
Buy from www.tredz.co.uk
The final verdict
This test starts from a high base as there are no poor shoes here,even when splashing out on a relatively affordable pair. In fact, Shimano’s TR5 shoes show that cost is no gauge of quality as, despite being the third cheapest on test, was one of the most comfortable. It might have been bulkier than the rest but that won’t faze newcomers who’ll appreciate its care for bare feet.
While Shimano stripped back its design to the fundamentals, Specialized’s offering sits at the opposite end of the evolution spectrum, its drawbridge heel the most jaw-dropping of its string of innovations. Unfortunately, a swift foot entry and exit comes at the expense of total comfort. Cost also prevents Scott’s RC Ultimate from taking the honours as, while an impressive shoe, £350 is a heavy price to pay.
Then again, Fizik’s Aria R3s are arguably wallet-unfriendly at £264.99 but that £85 saving over the Scott’s could go toward a bike fit. That’d complement these perfectly as they’re so well made, comfortable and beautifully fitting that they deserve to be ridden by the most efficient of bike set-ups. Yes, they’re not tri-specific but, on the factors listed alone, they’re deserving of this test’s winner’s medal.