Review: Fizik R4B Road Shoes
Cycling shoes don’t last forever, especially when you ride and sweat lots. Over time, they just collect sweat, road spray, and dirt and need to be replaced. I got a solid two seasons out of my Giro road shoes, and I headed to the shop to see if they had anything that would work.
I have a hard time finding shoes that are a good fit, as I have really odd feet. They are not the same length at all, which I am told is common. They are really wide at the balls of my feet and really narrow at the heel. They are also super-sized at the instep. One look at the images below, and you can see what I mean. These are from a Volumental scan done by Fleet Feet when I bought my running shoes. You can click on the scan results HERE. They are pretty fascinating.
When I bought my Giro Apeckx II’s, I really felt they fit nicely, but when going to another model of Giro for CX, I was surprised to find that they were very different. The Giro Privateers in the exact same size (42) were way too small. I finally was able to get them in Giro’s high volume (HV) fit, and they work fine. I had tried on the Fizik CX shoes, and I could not even get my foot into them.
When I walked in to the shop, I was pretty sure I was going to be stuck hoping for some sort of Giro HV to be in stock. I tried on one of the newer Giro’s, but they felt funny, nothing like my Apeckx II’s. I figured I was out of luck, but then I put on the Fizik R4B ($200), and they fit like a glove! I was more than pleasantly surprised, I was excited. You need to try shoes on, I guess. I never would have guessed that a Fizik would work for my foot.
The Fizik RB4 has a very form fitting perforated body which breathes nicely and wraps around the foot. The tongue is a heavy vinyl-esque material that wraps nicely around the top of the foot when you tighten the RB4’s Boa IP1-A straps. It just has a really nice way of encasing the foot. The front of the foot is secured by two small straps, which I have really not had to mess with too much since getting them. The outsole of the RB4s match really well with my wide foot and high instep. The shoes are snug and conforming but not tight in an uncomfortable way.
The Boa IP1-A closures allow for nice adjustment in both directions, and I have found myself tweaking them little by little on long rides, which is a big bonus coming from the ratcheting style straps on my Giro shoes. Throughout a long day, the feet swell and it is really nice to be able to adjust them without stopping. But, please be careful when you reach down to adjust while in traffic!
The white Microtex shell is light and looks sharp. I think the RB4 is a nice summer and fall shoe. I was out several times in high 70-80 degree temps, and they felt a lot cooler and lighter than the Apeckx’s. The Microtex seems to attract dirt, and is subtly textured. I hope that they last a long time, but they are definitely a tad softer and seemingly less durable that other shoes I have owned. This is my only real gripe, as I think these might take a beating. We will see.
The soles are not full carbon at this price point, but rather injected carbon. They are plenty stiff for me, and a lot stiffer than what I am used to wearing. I can feel it in every pedal stroke, but not in a bad way. I feel like there is lots of power being transferred through the shoe into each pedal stroke.
They are comfortable, and I wonder if the carbon injection is indeed a better option for most folks. I used the RB4s on a 72 miler this last week, and they never once gave me any hot spots or soreness. They felt great, and I liked the adjustment as mentioned earlier. The Rb4 also has a rather impressive heel that makes walking at coffee stops easy. I did notice that the heel seems to not be replaceable as on other shoes, so I hope it wears well.
I have been a Lake insole user for quite some time, but when I swapped my Lake insoles for the stock Fizik ones, I actually liked the Fizik insoles better. They are a nice match to the shoe, and they work well with my flatter and wider arch. That was a nice and unexpected bonus.
All in all, I am impressed by the RB4 and think it is a great shoe for under $200. I give it a 4 out of 5, only because I have concerns about the durability. The fit and comfort are a nice counterpart to the great performance they offer. So often we have to trade comfort for performance or vice versa, but not with these. Why not have both?