Fizik's R5 Artica winter shoes aim to provide extra protection from the cold without sacrificing fit. Do they succeed?
On first look, opinions at Cycling Weekly were divided about the Fizik R5 Artica winter boots. As soon as I saw them, I wanted to love them. Unlike some of my colleagues, I didn’t care about the functional, plain black aesthetics; to me, they looked ideal for their purpose.
Thing is, I am prone to cold feet — often severe enough to put me off cycling on cold days. Wimpy, I know, but true. So I had very high hopes for Fizik’s R5 Artica and snapped at the chance to test them.
Picking them up for the first time, I was surprised by their lightness. Though they look and feel extremely robust: they weigh a modest 380g per shoe.
When it came to putting them on for the first time, initially I thought they were the wrong size — I couldn’t get my feet in. But no, they were definitely size 43, so I tried again. With an arm-strength-testing tug, finally my feet were wrestled in and, once there, I seemed to have enough room — at least in terms of length.
The problem with the Fizik R5 Artica for me is that they’re tight across the bridge of the foot. It doesn’t feel uncomfortable once they’re on, but it does make getting them on and doing up the zips quite a battle. This means they feel very snug overall, and a little too tight across the bridge. Of course, this is likely a personal issue — I have fairly high arches — and won’t affect everyone. As ever, try before you buy.
The inner thermal membrane enclosed the foot, with laces and a single toggle tightening it easily. Once the main zip is done up overtop and the Velcro ankle band wrapped across, the fit feels very cosy — reassuringly so. I haven’t ridden in torrential rain with them yet, but they have fended off showers and surface spray, keeping my feet completely dry. Would they keep out every drop in heavy rain? That probably depends on your choice of tights and the quality of seal you can achieve around the ankles. In cool conditions wearing mid-weight socks, my feet stayed adequately warm, though not quite as toasty as I’d hoped (maybe I’d been a tad unrealistic).
On the subject of surface spray, a major selling point of the Fizik R5 Artica is their uncluttered, easy-wipe exterior. Not only do they eliminate the need for overshoes and all the associated faff, they’re also supremely easy to clean. Most major brands seem to offer a boot-type shoe — such as the Lake CX145 and Specialized Defroster — but in my opinion, these are the best-looking thanks to their sleek outer, which is aero as well as practical. The price is in line with the aforementioned competitors, though it’s still at the pricier end of the winter shoes market.
While riding, sole stiffness is good, but the snugness around the ankle and bridge is noticeable. Though this doesn’t impede normal pedalling range, some riders might dislike the sensation — certainly less ‘free’ feeling than a regular shoe.
The Fizik R5 Artica are well worth considering if you ride in all weathers throughout winter. May feel a little too snug and restrictive at the ankle for some riders, but the construction quality and easy-clean design are excellent.