The Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon gravel shoe needs just a few small changes to be perfect, but as it stands it’s a highly capable option with an excellent retention system. It also happens to be gorgeous to look at.
Fizik Powerstrap is secure and very comfortable
BOA Li2 makes for precise adjustment during a ride.
Great to look at
Excellent balance of stiffness and comfort
Not enough toe protection from tire rub
Ventilation could be better
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When it's time to pick a gravel shoe, there's a lot to consider. Road bike shoes are able to focus entirely on performance but when it's time to look for gravel bike shoes they have to not only perform on the bike but off the bike too. They have to be able to take a beating while remaining stiff enough and comfortable enough to handle gravel racing or just a long day on the bike. It's a complex design challenge and in some ways, it's still waiting for just the right design to solve it. Despite the challenges, there are some very good options available today. We've put together our list of the best gravel bike shoes available based on a variety of needs.
One of the brands on that list is Fizik, and its Terra Powerstrap X4. It's a shoe that a few of us have used and enjoyed but it's also something of a mid-range all-road focused option. Recently Fizik brought a new option to market called the Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon. It's a shoe that boasts top-tier performance and a greater off-road focus. In many ways it’s a combination of the Terra Powerstrap X4 and the Terra Atlas but with a greater focus on performance. Now that we've had a chance to put in the time with them, we are ready to share our thoughts. If you are looking for a new pair of performance shoes for gravel cycling, keep reading to see if these new shoes from Fizik are right for you.
Design and aesthetics
The Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon are one of a growing number of options out there that are bringing a clear focus on style to the gravel shoe market. There are two colour options available with one of them being stealthy black on black. The other is the real show stopper though with Lilac/White being the official name. There's a soft purple outer that's highlighted against detail of black, white, and touches of fluro yellow. Each time a new colour shows up, it's there to highlight a specific design detail.
The look of the outer comes from the layered construction. On the inner surface is a soft woven textile. It feels like a low pile felt and it's covered in ventilation dots. This is the piece that's actually lilac Above that sits a fine mesh layer. It's semi-translucent white and there is an angled square structure running through it for additional strength. The last layer is another semi-translucent layer but this time it's lilac as well. This layer uses polyurethane laminated in specific areas to provide either extra protection or to add anti-stretch properties.
Playing against the lilac outer are the black supporting details. On the top you'll see attention drawn to the closure and the two-piece design. Closest to the upper opening is the Fizik Powerstrap that's found across their lineup in both road as well as in the Terra Powerstrap X4 gravel shoe. The way it's used in the Vento Ferox Carbon is similar to those previous uses and once again it's a rather wide strap that will not stretch. It's anchored to the sole at one end then comes across the upper. It's attached to the upper for roughly half the run at which point it breaks free and threads through an opening on the other side of the shoe. It doubles back and velcro secures it.
This time though instead of a second strap the lower you'll find a BOA Li2 dial. The Li2 is the most recent BOA dial addition and it has a lower profile than previous options. It continues to provide precise fit adjustment, either tightening or loosening, mid-ride as well as quick access at the end of a ride with its pop to release system. In this Fizik implementation it threads through three anchors with two on the opposite side of the shoe and one on the same side as the dial.
Beyond the closure system, you'll find black in the rear ankle retention as well as the carbon sole. While most of the interior of the shoe has no padding, relying only on the moldability of the mesh outer, the upper ankle opening does. There's a soft synthetic suede covering the area and at the very back of the ankle, and a pattern of silicone dots, which work together with the shape of the cup to keep your foot from moving.
The black on the sole, while it is visible, is not the dominant colour. Instead, almost the entire sole has a covering of white tread. The tread blocks are large enough to bite even in mud and soft sand and the rubber coating is softer than is typical. Fizik has covered the bridge between the heel and forefoot, though they've left no tread in this area to allow space for an unclipped pedal rotation.
Despite not being dominant, there is still a bit of the X1 carbon outsole peeking through in the rear and also near the cleats. Fizik doesn't explain their stiffness index but this is the same stiffness rating as their stiffest road shoes.
The cleats are one of the few places you'll find the fluro yellow colour. As they come in the box, instead of a spike you'll find a stud that uses the same, somewhat soft, material as the rest of the tread. They are removable should they need to be replaced and they fall into the same category of colour highlighting as the branding as well as a single strip drawing attention to the Powerstrap.
The Powerstrap upper strap is very simple to use. The strap is large and easier to grab mid-ride, and also excellent at keeping your foot comfortably secured against the rear of the shoes. Lower down the smaller strap moves to the Li2 BOA dial and makes for a much more precise way to dial in the fit as your feet swell through a ride.
These are shoes with enough traction, and comfort that when you encounter hike-a-bike sections, you can jump off and walk, or even run with a shouldered bike. They're also grippy enough on steep unrideable descents too. Stiff cycling shoes keep your sole angle down and towards the toe of the shoe. The Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon excels, because of the upper Powerstrap, in keeping your feet anchored and away from the toe. Even on my most technical downhill walks manage to avoid a sore big toe.
On those same big and rough rides, the tear resistant upper does a great job. Despite what seems to be my best effort, no manner of rock or tree has managed to damage the outer. That same indestructibility does not extend to scuffs from toe strike though. The polyurethane laminate is incredibly thin and a big toe touch on the back of an aggressive gravel tire is sometimes enough to get all the way through. A bit of extra cladding on the toe would be welcome.
When it comes to cleat placement though, there will likely be some pleased customers; the dual cleat ports can move fore/aft a full 1.5cm and so you can achieve a placement that slammed right back to the midfoor. It’s much farther back than is typical and if that’s what you need for fitment that’s a clear win.
The very precise adjustment, and tons of cleat adjustability, continues to come together for comfort when you add in the stiff sole. My longest test with the Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon Gravel Shoes was almost exactly 10 hours of recorded time and just under nine hours of rolling time. There was significant time spent hiking as well and at the end of the day I was able to avoid any issues with a sore foot. A sole that’s too soft has been an issue for me in the past with gravel shoes but Fizik has done a great job making sure there’s enough stiffness for comfort without overdoing it.
In the world of high-end gravel shoes there are a few great options and Fizik is now among them. The Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon gravel shoes are stiff enough to handle riding all day without pain. They’ve also got one of the best closure systems available along with aesthetics options that appeal to those who like loud and those who prefer stealth. If you’ve got to get off your bike and run up a hill, there’s enough traction to handle it and those colours aren’t going to get damaged. The downside of all that exterior toughness though is a bit of a venting issue. It’s not the worst offender but it could be better. There’s also the issue of toe protection being a bit less than ideal. Overall, the positives are more than the negatives and if you want your cleats as far back as possible these are probably your best bet in a gravel race shoe.
|One of the best, perhaps only bested in comfort by laces but not in ease of use.
|Stiffest isn’t always best. These are stiff enough to do the job.
|More than most.
|Stiffest isn’t always best. These are stiff enough to do the job.
|Middle of the road. Not much venting but also not much padding to act as insulator.
|Row 5 - Cell 1
Tech Specs: Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon Gravel Shoes
- Price: £215.51 (plus import duties) / $299.99 / €299.99
- Weight: 334g per shoe
- Sizes: 36-48 (37 to 47 also in half sizes)
- Colours: Black, Lilac/White
- Reported Sole Stiffness: maximum Fizik offers (10)
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