We have to admit that it took us a bit to distinguish the differences between the R3 and Fi'zi:k's newest creation, the R5 Uomo Shoes. Some points are obvious, like the replacement of kangaroo leather for Microtex on the uppers and a carbon-reinforced nylon outsole instead of the R3's carbon fiber. However, we're more apt to call those differences enhancements to both comfort and value. Now, the shoes feature more ventilation and a rather comparable level of stiffness at a fraction of the cost. And with only a 20 gram difference between the two, it calls into question, how much do we actually love leather and carbon?
So, besides $100, the question begs to be asked, what are the differences between the R3 and R5? Well, it all comes down to materials. Starting at the closure system, Fi'zi:k replaced the Sailcloth fabric found on the hook-and-loop straps R3 with its go-to-material, Microtex. Essentially, this is the same synthetic leather that's found on everything from Fi'zi:k bar tape to the uppers of the R5. In addition to these straps, the R5 features the same micrometric aluminum ratcheting buckle. This system allows you to fully tune the fit and volume of the shoes both pre-ride and on-the-fly. The bottom two straps control the snugness of the fit at the metatarsal and instep areas, and are best adjusted before you hit the road and left alone thereafter.
The ratcheting strap is what dictates the entry and exit adjustments. The loading lever is made from aluminum that's been mated to a stainless steel base. It has a double-click adjustment capability with a full-release mechanism at the base of the lever. Together, the three strap system eliminates any internal foot slippage that depreciates your efficiency. To evenly distribute pressure across the top of the foot, Fi'zi:k made the strap dimensions wide. The strap design allows you to easily lengthen or shorten the strap in order to precisely dial-in the volume of the shoe. Under the closure, you'll find a well-ventilated, nylon mesh tongue. This is another subtle difference between the R5 and R3, whereas the R3's tongue is removable for cleaning and volume-control.
To further control slippage, the R5 Uomo has shaped the heel cup at the aft position of the shoe. This feature keeps the foot in the perfect position on hard up-strokes and while climbing out of the saddle. As a result, you're powering the pedals comfortably and efficiently. At the outsole, you'll see the largest differentiator between the two models. Where the R3 features a multi-layered carbon fiber sole with Tepex and a Mobius rail, the R5 makes use of a carbon-reinforced nylon outsole. And while this keeps costs down, it doesn't inhibit either comfort or power transfer. In fact, the R5 retains a low stack height and a high level of rigidity. But, like the with the R3, Fi'zi:k engineered-in trace flexibility. So, the outsole creates a direct power to the pedals, while allowing enough movement to guarantee comfort after 80 kilometers.
And on the topic of comfort, Fi'zi:k went above and beyond to make the R5 extremely breathable. In fact, you've probably already noticed the high level of mesh ventilation along the upper of the shoe. This feature keeps your feet breathing and comfortable on long summer days in the saddle. And for the insole, Fi'zi:k included its own Superlight Insole. And while its not custom moldable like with the R1, it does incorporate a thoughtful design that assures comfort by absorbing road vibration and supporting your arch system.
The Fi'zi:k R5 Uomo Shoes are available in odd and even sizes ranging from 40.0 to 48.0 and in the colors Black, Black/metal red, and White/silver/grey. Please note that the R5s are only compatible with standard three-hole cleat systems.