The R1 has been Fizik’s top race shoe for a few seasons now, and for 2018 it has been joined by this intriguing Knit version. Unlike most knit fabric running shoes, or Giro’s knit Empires, the R1 uses the high-stretch, highly breathable fabric far more sparsely.
The idea behind the R1 is to create a shoe that has a stiff exoskeleton bonded onto a stiff and light carbon sole. Laid into this are areas of knitted fabric to allow for a more comfortable fit.
The exoskeleton, which the upper is forged around, offers great control over the fit, with the offset tongue position and widely-anchored dual Boa wires combining to create a closure that wraps around your foot without folding, creasing or pinching.
It’s similar to the way in which Northwave’s impressively comfortable Extreme RR encapsulates your foot, and I love the way in which it holds feet in place.
The R1s really perform at their best when you’re working hard and the temperature is rising. The double-layer knit fabric allows for great breathability and when your feet swell a little — as they are prone to do when conditions get hot — the fabric has plenty of stretch. As a result, that great comfort you feel when you first put them on is maintained throughout your ride.
The water repellent treatment on the shoe’s upper does its job, as a short Italian Riviera shower during testing showed me. I wouldn’t recommend the R1s if you’re planning to ride in heavy rain though, these are more three-season options, but certainly not summer-only like Giro’s equally-priced flyweight Prolight Techlace.
My size 45 test pair weighed 636g, which means these aren’t the lightest shoes available, but they are certainly not heavyweights.
The all-day comfort combined with the race shoe stability they provide is among the very best around, and for long hot rides I don’t think you’ll find much better.
The downside is the price, you are certainly paying for the technology and comfort. If your budget can stretch, I’m sure that you’ll be as impressed as me.