The Fizik Artica X5 mountain bike SPD shoes are a relatively stiff shoe that is built to keep racers and long distance cyclist riding through the winter. They are warm, waterproof and easy to clean off in the aftermath. These would be great shoes for gravel riders too where the sleek profile suits the genre of riding.
The Artica X5 shoes are built as a defence against the wet and the cold, they are fully waterproof, well insulated and tough too. The rubberised looking upper is bonded to a Microtex Reinforced Shell with a breathable membrane to keep feet dry from sweat. Coupled with the waterproof outer is a well sealed waterproof zip running from near the toes to the ankle.
Fastening happens via the brands Internal Speed Lacing system which sliding buckle system ensures even pressure over the top of the foot. It’s easy to use too, with large rubber toggles to help you grab hold of the one piece lace. It’s all housed under the waterproof zip which keeps it clean and dry whatever the conditions. The upper cuff is a neoprene one with a large Velcro flap, it’d pay to check the sizing before you buy as this cuff leaves only a narrow opening in the top of the boot and it’s not really very stretchy.
Inside the shoes are insulated, Fizik says with ‘cosy fleece’ but whilst the shoes are warm, they aren’t all that soft and fleecy inside. The shoe is well defined and keeps its shape well with protective toe and heel reinforcements, these are a pretty rugged pair, ones I don’t see wearing out quickly. For £190, you’d hope that was the case!
The carbon reinforced nylon sole is stiff, much stiffer than the Shimano MW7 shoes we tested last month. The stiff sole makes power transfer easy, I found these shoes best suited to longer gravel rides and XC miles on a sprightly bike but if you wanted a 'one shoe does all', these will also be good for more technical trail riding if you don’t mind the style.
The stiff sole combined with a slightly flat tread pattern does lead to these shoes being more difficult to walk in. I found myself sliding around when hike-a-biking, the tread is chunky and large on the bottom of the shoes but the large flat surface area doesn’t bite into the mud that well. My size 38 pair weighed 908g for the pair with a bit of mud attached, not bad considering the bootie style.
I took these boots out in all conditions and found them to keep my feet warm and dry, they were a little sweatier than the Shimano MW7’s but in terms of waterproof effectiveness, the performance was on par. I found the Fizik Artica’s to let water in via the upper cuff where the rubber outer meets the neoprene in severe conditions, even when wearing trousers. Something unavoidable in this style of boot and only experienced in the very worst rain. On the most part, the shoes do a grand job of keeping both the wet and muck out and the warmth in. One last thing to mention is the narrow fit, these are definitely ones to try before you buy if you have flatter wider feet or ones particularly tall across the footbridge.
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