Fizik has an easy-to-love shoe on its hands. Not only are they incredibly light but the upper is so open that even a slight breeze comes through without resistance. The sole is plenty stiff enough although it is on the narrower side. The R2 Aeroweave is best for those that value movement and comfort over a bulky but enveloped feel.
- Well designed adjustable cleat mounting
- Closure system is easy to use and works well
- Venting in the sole
- Grip dots at the heel
- Only one colour
Fi'zi:k (Fizik) has been in the cycling world for 25 years as of 2021. There are certainly brands out there with more history, but a quarter-century is also a serious amount of time, and throughout that time, Fizik has remained true to what it does best.
Fizik as a company specialises predominantly in the three touchpoints between a rider and their bike: shoes, saddles, and bar tape. There are options for on-road and off-road but it's a very narrow range of focus. Like a good artisan, Fizik keeps a tight focus and makes some of the best products within that scope.
It's also worth understanding how to say the name Fizik. It's simple, the word is physique, just spelt phonetically. Consider that the organizing force of the company and the Vento Powerstrap R2 Aeroweave fits right in. It's a cutting-edge shoe that does its best to let your foot do what it does without interference.
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Design and aesthetics
Stand back and look at the Vento Powerstrap R2 Aeroweave and it's actually a bit plain. Your colour choice includes 'black on black' or nothing and even the range of blacks is somewhat similar in sheen. The Fizik logo appears in a couple of spots but that's understated too. No contrasting details, just a lot of black.
If you are still standing back a bit, the primary design detail is the Powerstrap closure system. From a distance it's the only thing that stands out and it dominates the visual look of the top of the shoe. Think of it like a couple of small seatbelts for your foot.
There are two Powerstrap closures and they are each unique compared to the other. The strap closest to the opening at the top of the shoe is a bit wider. One end attaches to the carbon base and from there the strap comes through an opening just to the side of the center of the shoe, in the same location as you'd expect to laces on a laced shoe. After passing through the opening on the inside of the foot the strap comes almost all the way back to where it originates and fastens. Fastening comes by way of Velcro and the active section covers the entire Powerstrap on the outside of the foot. That is to say, there is tons of adjustability here. If you can get your foot into the shoe you are unlikely to have an issue where the two sides of the Velcro don't meet each other.
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The second Powerstrap originates on the inside of your big toe joint. It anchors to the carbon base then heads across the opening of the shoe and through a hole before heading for a second hole on the other side of the shoe. After doubling back again, to finish the crisscross of the shoe, the Velcro closure attaches on the outside of the shoe. Unlike the other strap, this one is two pieces. The second part anchors to the base of the shoe then finishes at the centre cutline. Once again there is a very large section of Velcro so don’t worry about not being able to get the two sides to meet.
If you want to really understand what makes the Vento Powerstrap R2 Aeroweave what it is, you've got to get a little closer. That's when you can make out the Aeroweave. Imagine the plastic lanyards, or bracelets, that kids make then imagine using that material to knit the entire upper of a shoe.
There are other knit shoes on the market but nothing quite like what Fizik has. The structure of the shoe comes from filaments of thermoplastic polymer that have been knit together in different ways. Some parts of the shoe are a tighter knit and some looser, and different areas use a different direction for the knit. Between the thermoplastic polymer, there is soft nylon fibre.
At the toe and heel, there is a rigid structure that helps to create the structure for the unsupported midfoot area. There is a small amount of padding at the upper edge of the opening for your ankle and this continues down and around the back of the shoe. Near your Achilles, at the back of the heel, it's very narrow but also soft and plenty grippy from the collection of rubberized dots.
The whole centre section of the shoe has only the Powerstrap for structure. The weave is so open you can easily see your socks through it. The tongue of the shoe uses a leather-like material more akin to a typical cycling shoe.
At the base of the shoe is a very stiff carbon sole. Fizik calls it a 10 out of 10 on its stiffness scale although there isn't any comparison to other shoes. Just know that's very stiff but it's also pretty flat, narrow, and heavily moulded. While some shoes wrap the sole up around the edge of the foot, Fizik has used it as a narrow platform, such that the very edges of your foot may actually be wider than the carbon. There's also a lot of venting moulded into the sole itself, as well as rearward-biased, adjustable, cleat mounts.
The cleat mounts themselves are worth mentioning. According to Fizik, the "cleat positioning is slightly further rear-wards compared to traditional settings, to optimize pedalling efficiency and reduce knee compression, especially well suited to very aggressive, forward aero positions."
The mounts themselves are adjustable, and the design of this adjustability is an improvement on many out there. Instead of separate reinforced mount holes, all three mounting holes are on a single larger metal plate that floats within the carbon. This makes it much easier to fit without threading a bolt and break the support free of the carbon inside the shoe.
The first thing you notice about these Fizik shoes is how light they are. At 249 grams per shoe for a size 43, they feel like nothing. There are slightly lighter shoes out there but not many, and having spent my time in heavier sprinter shoes lately, it's shocking.
The other noticeable thing is how simple the process of putting them on is. The difference between popping a BOA dial open and pulling the Velcro loose isn't much, but somehow BOA dials feel complicated in comparison. Grab the big Velcro straps and pull them loose and the whole shoe is open.
Once you've got them on, just walking around in them you can tell how minimal they are. The heel and toe pads don't offer much in the way of traction and it's a big drop to the floor in the back.
Get on the bike and it's a breath of fresh air. There is literally a cool breeze all the time, as air moves right through the open upper of the shoe and the venting in the bottom is highly effective. If you are overheating in these shoes then quite simply, it's too hot to ride. There is no shoe better suited to hot weather riding than the Vento Powerstrap R2 Aeroweave.
Along with the airiness, it's also striking how stiff the sole is. Other shoes feel more like the whole shoe is a stiff structure, but with the Fizik it feels like you've got your foot glued to a very stiff surface. It's easy to adjust the Velcro while riding and you can cinch it down plenty tight enough, such that if you don't want your foot to move, it won't. Given how open the upper is though, you don't get a strong sense of it - you feel the bottom while you don't feel the top.
Riding far forward, in an aggressive position, the ability to push the cleats way back is fantastic. I don't tend to point my toes when I have the cleats adjusted towards the centre of my foot and it's a welcome change compared to other shoes.
Fizik shoes have a reputation for being a narrow Italian fit. I've never found it to be an issue for me but there is a distinctly narrow feel to these shoes. The toe isn't overly narrow but the whole base is on the narrow side. It all works given that there's plenty of space up top, but if you count yourself as having a particularly wide foot it might not be the best choice.
Aside from fit details, these are a very particular style of shoe. Some shoes, like the Lake CX403, feel substantial on your foot. The Vento Powerstrap R2 Aeroweave is the opposite. The feel is more like a slipper, light and barely there. Despite that lightness, there's no reason to worry about stiffness, because that's there too.
It would even be believable that they are stiffer than many sprinter specific shoes. It's just a different feeling. Instead of feeling like you've got a substantial shoe wrapped around your foot, it feels like you've got a very stiff base attached to the bottom. The Powerstrap design is easy, light, and effective at keeping your foot exactly where you want it, and as tight as you want it, without hotspots.
When you talk about top-of-the-line shoes from a well-known manufacturer like Fizik, you have to understand you are talking about great shoes. The Vento Powerstrap R2 Aeroweave runs at £334.99 / $399.99 and it matches the performance of other shoes at this level. The only question to ask is if your philosophy of shoe design matches what Fizik is offering. In this case, if you like a lightweight and airy shoe these are a great option to compete with a handful of others on the market.
Tech Specs: Fizik Vento Powerstrap R2 Aeroweave road shoes
- Weight: 249g per side, Size 43 (Actual, without cleats)
- Outsole: R2 carbon outsole: optimized cleat positioning, high stiffness and lightness tuned for power transfer
- Upper: Aeroweave: extremely breathable, high tenacity net-like upper structure
- Retention: Powerstrap: foot-wrapping Velcro closure designed for an enveloping fit
- Colours: Black
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