‘Everyone loves an underdog’ is a cliché that industry veteran Alberto Fonte hopes still runs true.
With over 15 years' experience working at the likes of Fizik, Pinarello and Kask, the Italian has launched his own direct-to-consumer cycling brand, UDOG.
Its first product is Tensione, a minimalist road cycling shoe (opens in new tab) that UDOG says is the only shoe that “wraps the rider’s feet from top to bottom.”
To achieve this, Fonte and his Vento, Italy based team have created the Tension Wrap System (TWS), designed to ‘hug’ the metatarsal area of the foot from instep to bridge. This patented design features TPU laminated straps that “wrap the insole from one side of the shoe to the other”.
The lace-up closure system provides 18 points of contact between the shoe and your foot. Using laces, as opposed to dials or velcro straps, has three primary benefits according to UDOG: they better distribute pressure, they help create an understated aesthetic and are both lighter and more comfortable. Interestingly, the brand uses proprietary laces that have a flatter construction, which apparently allows for a more securely tied knot; keeping your laces from coming undone is pretty crucial when cycling, and especially when racing.
With the primary goal of offering superior comfort and support, UDOG says the Tensione also features both a wider toe box and a deeper heel cup. The carbon-nylon composite outsole too appears to have comfort in mind. It has a stiffness index of just 7.0 and includes a directional ventilation channel and a large metatarsal platform that’s designed to make cleat engagement a breeze. Likewise UDOG has chosen the one-piece mesh upper because it’s “light, soft and breathable”, all elements that usually make for a comfortable shoe.
While we've yet to see it in the flesh, from the available images the Tensione appears to achieve its goals of creating a lightweight, stripped-back shoe. Devoid of plastic or metal hardware, the shoe weighs a very competitive 245 grams for a size 42. With integrated rubber heels and toe caps, blending into either an all-black or all-white shoe, the result is undeniably clean.
It’s seemingly a shoe without any unnecessary bells and whistles. Instead UDOG appears to have focused on embedding its principles within the design. In turn, the pursuit of improved comfort has created a sparse aesthetic that looks to be the Tensione's calling card. A case of function as fashion perhaps?
The UDOG Tensione is offered in 15 gender neutral sizes from 38 to 46. It’s priced at £130/150 euros/US$200 and is available directly from UDOG.
For more details visit udog.cc (opens in new tab)
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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.