The AFX PRO from FLR is a slightly higher-spec version of the basic AFX, and together they represent FLR's new(ish) push into the flat pedal shoe market. While the AFX PRO's basic shape is sound and the price is great, the sole grip is lacking, colours are limited and it's hard to see what FLR did with the input they got from trials champ Aurélien Fontenoy.
The upper is smooth with strategically placed perforations for venting, which sheds mud well but also lets in water very quickly. At least they dry quicker than many other flat shoes, though the lack of padding unfortunately helps there – the inner ankle is raised for protection, for instance, but not really by enough. And like much of the rest of the shoe, they're thin on padding and lack a decent rigid structure.
The toebox is fairly narrow, as is the shoe overall. The lacing is fairly narrow too, so pulls the shoe round and tight across the foot, while the tongue is a thinly padded and feels like it packs down under pressure.
The front of the shoe is pretty solid, with a decent tip for taking impacts - it takes some force to deform it – while the lower sole area is well-finished and well-built too. The AFX PROs can cope with a hammering in the rocks.
The sole is less happy there. They feel quite narrow on the pedal, they're too hard overall to really conform to your pedals and the surface just isn’t that tacky. The AFX PROs feel firm and hardwearing... great for durablility, but it doesn’t offer much grip.
The pattern of straight grooves gives good fore-and-aft support to your pedal pins, but also allows too much feeling of twist, and a looser connection to the pedal. Whilst this allows for easy repositioning for quick manoeuvres such as wheelies and hops, it means you always feel a little cautious of the contact point between pedal and shoe.
On rough, rocky trails, I never had the confidence of my usual flat shoes – plus I found bunny hops trickier and had moments where I just felt loose or slippery. This all makes for reduced riding confidence.
Pedalling is actually fairly efficient as the sole is pretty solid, and if you're after a casual shoe for quick blasts to the pub then this could be a tidy budget option. However, for the FLR AFX PROs to be serious contenders for serious flat pedal gravity, trail or trials riding, they need a considerable rethink on grip, stiffness and padding levels.
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