Q36.5 has a reputation for doing things differently – and that’s clearly evident in its new shoe.
The Uniques look very much like many other top-end road shoes out there, with their offset mouth and twin Boa dials.
But the upper has been designed after the manufacturer 3D-mapped numerous feet and employed the data, resulting in what 36.5 believes are among the best-fitting shoes you can buy.
Instead of a tongue, the Uniques have a super-soft, elasticated membrane that covers the whole forefoot and wraps around the opening’s collar.
The inner heel is textured to add grip, the upper’s fit is close and well-proportioned, and the expanding membrane means they’ll fit a lot of foot shapes without creasing or pinching.
The micromesh upper has more elasticity than most of its rivals and, combined with the stretch in the liner, it creates a near leather-like mouldability when you tension the Li2 Boas.
It’s the footbeds that are the real revelation, though. The 3D-formed beds have a pronounced instep, sculpted heel, and are well-shaped, with their material really standing out.
The beds are made by Elastic Interface, a leader in bib short pads, and its multi-density footbeds resemble short padding.
They have an almost memory-foam like comfort that’s cosseting on cool days but, as with the best short pads, they draw out and disperse heat, making the Uniques some of the best-regulated and most comfortable high-end road shoes I’ve tried.
Happily, that comfort is paired with a sole that makes a superb pedalling platform.
The carbon outsole is stiff at the cleat, but cutaways allow a little elastic movement at the rear for a great balance of stiffness and a stunning fit.
The outsole is protected by a toe bumper and a chunky, replaceable heel bumper.
A mesh-lined toe vent provides some heat release, yet the Uniques do have a weakness.
That tongue-less design creates a comfortable, secure fit, but in the rain it acts like a sponge, soaking up water and depositing it into the shoe, where the thick insole tries its best to soak it up.
You end up feeling like you’re standing in wet sand.
At 567.6g a pair, the Uniques are light, though they are prohibitively expensive.
And that thick insole might put you off if you prefer a firm, flat-to-the-pedal feel.
However, I loved the balance of road-race stiffness and slipper-like comfort, and the all-day comfort goes a long way to justifying the price tag.
- 01 Boa Li2: Boa’s Li2 dials are made from recycled plastic and are both small in diameter and low in profile, reducing the weight and improving aerodynamics.
- 02 Insole: Made for Q36.5 by Elastic Interface, this 3D multi-height, multi-density footbed is comfortable, supportive and regulates heat very well too.
- 03 Carbon sole: The cleat plate and front of the sole offer optimum stiffness, but the rear is designed to allow a natural elastic movement for a more comfortable shoe.