Described by Fizik as a mountain bike shoe, the Terra X5’s carbon outsole features deep TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane)-injected studs, while the synthetic microtex upper has laser perforations for ventilation.
The fastening consists of an asymmetric Boa and toe strap pairing, and the shoe’s profile is noticeably broader than that of a typical road shoe.
A little detail that I really appreciate is the heel loop, which not only helps you get the shoe on more easily but is also handy for drying and airing the shoes between rides.
My standard size 46 shoe fitted well, although it wears slimmer than the shape would suggest – and I say that as a rider whose feet are on the narrow side.
The tongue extends towards the outside of your foot, creating a wraparound effect that offers a balanced and secure fit. This all-enveloping comfort is further enhanced by the tongue’s padding which, thanks to a guide through which the Boa wire runs, doesn’t move or migrate when you’re riding.
The X5 is a stiff shoe. It has a heel grip feature that keeps it in place when you’re walking but it does feel like you’re hike-a-biking in a beefed-up road shoe.
The deep treads are widely spaced, which means they shed mud well, but the grip isn’t as firm when it gets stickier and these are less stable underfoot than, for example, Lake’s MX176 shoes.
On the other hand, the additional power transfer when you’re climbing is noticeable and depending on the terrain of your usual rides, that might be the clincher.
Even though Fizik cites a mountain bike heritage for the X5, it still feels very much like a road shoe that has come over to the rugged side. It’s not that it’s difficult to walk in the X5s, it’s just that their strengths lie in that power transfer rather than long-lasting comfort.
If your hilly gravel routes remain rideable all year and you have little call for extended walking, then it’s a trade-off that will probably work for you because the X5’s fit and the construction of their uppers provide great round-the-foot comfort with enough ruggedness for off-road adventures.
How we tested
The best gravel bike shoes need to balance stiffness and efficient power transfer, comfort for longer rides and walkability for rugged terrain or off-the-bike use.
Throw into the mix the special individuality of fit and it is easy to see why there is unlikely to be one perfect solution so the best place, as with everything bike, is to start by considering your own skills, fitness and preferred riding in order to understand whether you might want to trade off some walking ease for stiffness or if comfort is everything.
So, to help you choose what’s best for you, we’ve mixed up country lanes with dirt tracks, bridleways and forest roads on day-long routes. Nothing too extreme technically but all calling for dismounts to push up steep climbs, open gates and to hit the coffee queue.
Also on test:
- Bontrager GR2
- Giro Sector
- Lake MX176
- Mavic Allroad Pro
- Northwave Rockster
- Rapha Explore
- Scott MTB Comp Mid
- Shimano XC501
- Specialized Recon 3.0