The perfect winter boot is elusive, but Fizik does a good job and the look is sleeker than the competition. Totally waterproof and a great platform, no matter how far you plan to ride.
- - Sleek looks
- - Sole is completely protected
- - Easy to get on
- - Tight tread pattern adds weight without adding traction
- - No storage for the speed lace system
When the weather turns, it's important to keep your extremities warm so you can continue enjoying riding your bike all year round. Winter boots, like these Fizik Artica X5s, are designed to do exactly that. We included the 3-bolt road version (the Fizik Artica R5) on our list of the best winter cycling shoes but there's also the same exact boot in a two-bolt version, which we've been putting to the test.
So while you may be tempted to turn to the best cycling overshoes and the best winter cycling socks, consider how a winter-specific shoe or boot can improve your enjoyment of winter cycling. They are highly insulated, sealed, and explicitly designed to keep the cold and wet out.
We've spent multiple seasons and thousands of miles testing these boots out. If you are considering adding them to your cold-weather toolkit, then keep reading to see what we like about them, what we don't like about them, and how they fit into the larger picture.
Design and aesthetics
A big part of what makes the Fizik Artica X5 boots different is the way they look. Most winter cycling boots have a certain style that tends towards function. The Fizik Artica X5 upends that with a sleek exterior that is as much about function as style.
The piece that keeps the exterior looking sleek is what Fizik calls a microtex re-enforced upper. It's a material that feels soft, flexible and rubberised, and it continues from the sole up to the bottom of the ankle. At the base there's a second, textured, layer bonded on top of the microtex that adds abrasion protection. A waterproof zipper splits the outer and covers the area from the base of the toes up to the adjustable neoprene cuff that tops the boot.
Inside the waterproof exterior is a second layer that adds more insulation and it's also where the closure system lives. The outer zipper isn't under any stress, and doesn't hold anything. Its job is to keep weather out, while the inner speed lace system handles pulling the shoe tight to your foot.
The speed lace system is a long, round, lace replacement. It's a complete loop so there's nothing to tie. Hold the tab, pull it tight, then slide the plastic stop so it stays in the correct location. To loosen it, change your grip to the outside and pull it up.
Inside the boot you'll find the insole uses a bit of an old school trick. Riders once recommended using tin foil to keep heat in and the draft out, and Fizik has done something similar. The base of the insole features a reflective silver coating. Up top, it's got a fleece covering.
Under the insole is the carbon-reinforced nylon outsole. If you've got the Artica R5 then it's a mostly flat design with a three-bolt cleat mount. For the X5 that same basic construction sees the addition of a pretty massive rubber tread and an adjustable two-bolt cleat mount. If you'd like spikes, there are mounting holes at the toe.
I've used the Fizik Artica X5 for two seasons and thousands of miles. When it comes to winter boots, one of the most important things is getting the right fit. Many of them aren't available in half sizes, but Fizik bucks that trend. Sized up a half size from my summer Fizik fit is the perfect winter boot fit for me. I have room for thick socks and extra insoles or chemical warmers.
Aside from a fit that works for me, the Artica X5 has been a steadfast companion through two winters. I don't ride in temperatures below freezing, but I do ride in the rain, and given I'm doing it on a Cannondale Topstone Lefty, that means no mudguards. The Artica X5 boots are completely waterproof, in fact, they are so waterproof that if you aren't careful, you'll arrive home with a lake in your boot.
Staying dry, and by extension warm, with any winter boot is an ongoing journey for me. A pair of hardshell waterproof trousers, like the Endura GV500s, will keep water from running down your leg. In that configuration the Artica X5 will keep my feet dry even in a downpour with no mudguards.
My experience with these boots is that they are warm enough for long rides down to about 45 F/7C without adding chemical warmers. They do suffer from a lack of ventilation, though. That's not unique to these boots, but it's also not solved by them. I've added a moisture-absorbing insole above the Fizik insole to help.
What I have never experienced with the Artica X5 is any kind of issue with the sole being too flexible. It's not an ultra-stiff carbon affair but it's plenty to keep my feet pain-free even on long rides. The rubber tread makes walking easy, despite the stiffness.
The one change I'd love to see with the tread is more space between the lugs. The wide, flat lugs don't do much for gripping slippery surfaces and they add a lot of weight. A more spaced approach, with pointier lugs, would be lighter with no loss of traction.
For those worried about the longevity of the zipper. You can rest easy. It functions as well now as it did when new. It's not under any stress, so it gets hosed off just like the rest of the easy to clean exterior and it's held up well for a lot of riding.
There are warmer options on the market but the Fizik Artica X5, or the Artica R5, do well a little above freezing. They keep any rain from penetrating the outer cover, even without mudguards, and they will hold up for a long time. The closure system makes them easy to get into, although there's no slick solution for stashing the speed lace system inside the boot. Movement at the ankle remains unimpeded and the cuff is adjustable, but don’t expect a watertight seal.
Tech Specifications: Fizik Artica X5 Winter Cycling Boot
- Price: £136.49 + taxes and duties / $229.99 / €200
- Available Colours: Black
- Upper: Waterproof and Breathable Membrane, Microtex Reinforced Shell
- Outsole: Rubber Outsole / Carbon Reinforced Midsole
- Closure: Internal Speed Lacing system
- Weight: 442g (size 42 - 1/2 pair)
- Size Availability: EU 36-48
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