Fizik's Ferox Vento Carbons are unquestionably one of the best mountain bike shoes on the market – they are also adequately equipped to double up for duty as gravel bike shoes, too. The stiff sole provides the perfect balance between power transfer and long-distance comfort and the large wide Powerstrap delivers excellent security across the top of your foot so you can really crank it down. They are light and breathe exceptionally well, just don’t expect them to be waterproof or cheap.
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Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon is a premium shoe by any standards and it is certainly not subtle in this lilac, white and fluro yellow colourway but it is available in Black or Purple and Mud. It sits at the top of the off-road tree for Fizik and replaces the now-retired Infinito X1, a shoe I have used for a while now.
Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon shoes - Technical details
The Vento Ferox is an unusual-looking shoe, mainly down to the Lilac and white colourway. The leftfield hue combination, however, helps you see the construction more clearly than the other colours showing the semi-translucent ‘ripstop-style’ fabric not too dissimilar from the stuff used in bikepacking bags. It's a breathable mesh with a protective polyurethane-laminated material bonded to it.
The toe box, heel and the open edges around the Boa dial and the underside of the strap are all coated in this protective polyurethane to prevent damage as much from crashing as just protecting high-wear areas.
There are no waterproof rating claims, as found with some gravel and MTB shoes. Instead, the Vento Ferox offers up super breathability and low weight. If these things get wet they will dry fast is Fizik’s approach.
These size 45s weigh in at 696g which is good for an off-road shoe.
The Vento Ferox Carbon carbon plate is rated with a stiffness factor of 10/10, the same rating as Fizik’s top-of-the-line road shoes, so these shoes are clearly aimed at those riders looking to get the absolute maximum performance out of their legs with comfort perhaps being the focus of different models in the line.
The insole is removable and there are clearly lots of holes in the sole presumably to help lighten the shoe and not drain it as there are no corresponding holes in the outsole. However, looking inside the shoe you can see a wide selection of light pinholes from the mid-foot section on both sides which not only help the shoe breathe but are also designed to expel moisture. The cleat box also appears to be sealed inside to prevent water transfer.
The insole itself has no arch support other than a slight unsupported curve relying on a corresponding low arch support on the innersole to provide the shape. It does however have a cushioned heel cup section and a foam pad that sits directly on top of the pedal box. There are also vents at the toe end as well.
The heavily lugged rubber outsole has no vents and covers most of the carbon plate with only the area around the cleat box and the optional stud holes unprotected by the off-white rubber.
The shoe is fastened using a Li2 Boa dial at the forefoot and a large wide strap – dubbed the Powerstrap – that pulls across the top of the foot to hold it firmly in place. Fizik claims that this is a crash-proof design offering greater security which is presumably a nod to twin dial designs that can pop out of the shoe or break in a crash and leave you stranded.
The tongue design is slightly padded and there is actually a small little flap to locate it on one side of the shoe whilst it’s free to move on the other side as you tighten the shoe up. The inside of the heel cup has a tough grippy microfibre material to prevent heel lift.
The upper features safety reflective dayglo taps on the end of the straps and a reflective heel strip for nighttime visibility.
Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon shoes - Performance
In a word: outstanding. The Vento Ferox Carbon is, without doubt, one of the most comfortable off-road high-end shoes I have ever used and it is a huge leap forward in feel and fit from the Infinito X1 which I also own and never quite enjoyed.
Let me explain. First off, the sizing is spot on. As soon as I put them on in the office and did the straps up I knew these were a great fit. This might sound overly obvious, but not all shoes appear to be measured the same way and vary in size and width of course.
Getting them home and fitting the cleats was a simple task, a blob of grease on each cleat bolt hole and lots of double-checking and using the little lines on the cleat box to help you align each cleat.
There were no specific instructions for fitting Time or Crank Brothers cleats which I am currently using and can cause wear to carbon soles with their bar designs. Some brands recommend the use of ‘shoe shields’ so I fitted a pair to be on the safe side from the off to protect the carbon. Technically this has nothing to do with the shoe but a good longevity tip and why they appear in the photographs of the shoe.
Putting the shoes on is easy due to the large opening provided by the Powerstrap closure design. Once in, it’s easy to adjust both the Li2 Boa and the Powerstrap for the exact amount of security required, whether that is clamped down tight for large efforts in the hills or sprints or backed off a little for more comfort or for very hot days.
As soon as you set off you can feel that carbon sole coming into play. The harder you push the pedals the faster you surge forward. The stiff sole provides truly excellent power transfer which is great for those hard efforts on long sections where you just want to get through it, but that same super stiff sole also manages to be comfortable and that small foam pad atop the cleat box helps to prevent hot spots from the pedals regardless of how long you ride in them.
The Powerstrap works much better than the twin Boa design of the X1 as far as I am concerned or the Shimano RX6 or the Quocs GT II I have previously tested. As you tighten the strap you can feel it clamping your foot to the sole and sandwiching it against the upper for a super secure fit. It’s a comfortable feeling of being fully enveloped and at no time did I ever notice the tongue being in the wrong place due to the little flap that ensures it stays put.
The padding on the underside of the tongue is also spot on and there was no discomfort on the top of my foot or the arch area from the strap or tongue. Compared to other single or twin-dial setups I felt much more secure and cossetted in the Vento Ferox Carbon.
I have quite slim ankles which can be an issue with some shoes with heal lift but the Powerstrap combined with grip from the microfibre and silicone dotted heal cup prevented any movement here.
The Boa Li2 is the smoothest dial-based retention system I have used so far and it's easy to apply tiny amounts of adjustment or release on the bike. The Li2 Boa provides independent adjustment to tighten the lower section, or loosen it, depending on your ride. It helps contain any loose foot movement when you really want to go for it or if you back it off and you can have a little bit of shuffle when the conditions allow for that.
The toe box deserves praise for not being too narrow and allowing my toes enough movement for the occasional wiggle and not feeling squashed. Comparing these with the recent Shimano RX6 shoes which, I felt were a little narrow, There appears very little visual difference to the eye but The Vento Ferox design wins the comfort class hands down here.
While riding back-to-back loops of Salisbury Plain with its tank corrugations and landrover tracks and rough gravel, I never had concerns about untoward pedal feedback through the sole. You can feel what is going down there but your feet are not beaten up and sore and you don't need to get off your bike at any point.
The outsole on mine is showing reasonable wear after near-constant use over the last three months but there are no chunks or cuts evident and I ride a wide range of surfaces with a lot of flint and chalk to crunch against. They have been thoroughly crash tested much to my disgust (lack of skill - no fault of the shoes) and there are no signs of damage anywhere on the shoe. Fizik must be correct in that this design is more crash friendly than others. The only slight marking on the outer is some grease stains from a loan bike and some heal scuffs on the cup.
Clipping in and out is uneventful with no issues using Time or Crank Brothers cleats. The toe box is of a similar depth to most XC and gravel shoes I own so no spacers were required for the cleats.
The tread pattern offers more grip than many of the off-road shoes I've been using but then they have been classed as 'gravel' and it appears designers believe that gravel riders require less grip than XC riders. I’m not so sure why. I think the lugged sole on the Vento Ferox Carbon shoe is spot on and I may even try the stud option when the weather changes although they are not built for winter use being so breathable. For the moment they are grippy and plenty tough enough for the job.
Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon shoes - Verdict
There is no doubt that £300 is a lot of money for a pair of performance off-road shoes. They are lightweight but not class-leading at 696g. Sidi Scarpe MTB Dust weighs in at 682g for £260 and Shimano RX6 £160 and RX8 £220 are both lighter at 20g and 80g, respectively. They are cheaper and lighter though than the Lake MX332 which weighed a chunky 764g in a much smaller EU 40.5 and Rapha's Explore Powerweave shoes are heavier at 772g for £295
The Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon is a lightweight and fantastically comfortable mountain biking and gravel shoe with a decent amount of space in the toe box and a tough lugged sole with space for studs for filthy weather. The Powerstrap works brilliantly clamping your foot to the super stiff carbon sole helping you ring every last drop of effort out to propel yourself over a real or imaginary line. They are definitely worth a look and I actually really like this colour, just saying.