A number of factors come together to make the R5B BOA Donnas some of the most instantly desirable cycling shoes I've had the good fortune to slip my feet into. First off, they mark a departure from the usual solid black or white/silver colour schemes, being a slatey grey with hot pink accents that some will doubtless hate and others love.
Colour aside, they have the pared down style and low key (apart from the pink) looks that Fizik seem to have down to a tee, managing to combine a stylish edge with a sporty performance feel – a tall order that many don't quite manage. Even more desirable for me was the fact that they also feature subtly reflective panels, toning in with the overall grey, but adding to the safety element and even adding a little subtle sparkle in their own right!
They're not only good-looking though, they have a raft of performance features to keep even the most demanding rider satisfied. The BOA system and single Velcro strap are designed to optimize both comfort and performance, while the overall lightness of the shoe and stiffness of the carbon reinforced nylon outsole also contribute to enhanced power transfer. The R5B is designed strictly with three hole attachment road cleats in mind. One winning feature for me was the fact that they are available in half sizes, allowing a more finely tuned fit, but sadly it seems to be very difficult to actually find all but full sizes on sale in the UK.
Given the combination of the sleek fit, wrapping around the foot, the quite high heel cup and the shortness of the BOA cable, they were a little tricky to get on and off, but utterly stable and snug once on. With the BOA closure dialled in (easy and super fast, even on the bike) there was little or none of the movement I often get with cycling shoes. It felt like all my effort was going into rotating the pedals, rather than moving my foot about in the shoe.
The fit was comfortable too, with no pressure points from straps, another plus point of the BOA system that allows a much more even pressure distribution across the foot. The striking pink heel and toe bumpers were well-positioned and perfect for preventing damage to the carbon fibre reinforced outsole, but I did find myself walking on tip toe now and then, thinking the shoes were far too pretty to even risk damaging.
Sizing is a very tiny bit on the small side, so given the lack of half sizes easily available in the UK, I'd advise anyone on the cusp of two sizes to consider going up a size rather than down.
You're getting a lot for your money, as many performance shoes from other brands, with similar weights and features to the R5B BOA, come in at a much higher price. They're a sound investment for good looks, low weight, excellent fit and effective power transfer.
Great value for money for stunning-looking, well-featured and genuinely comfortable performance shoes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik R5B Donna Women's shoes
Size tested: 5.5 Grey
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aimed at performance riders looking for comfort with pedalling efficiency
They deliver in spades.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Boa IP1 closure system
Microtex/Reflective Heel Cap
Carbon Reinforced Nylon Outsole
fi'zi:k Cycling insole
Stated weight 215g (for size 38.5)
Superb materials and extremely well made.
Handmade in Italy and it shows.
Comfortable fit and allows for good pedalling efficiency thanks to the BOA fastening.
Some wear expected at the heel cup due to the snugness of the fit causing some minor difficulties getting the shoe on, but other than that, should last for years.
Compares favourably to many high end shoes, even some with fully carbon outsoles.
Very comfortable indeed, in part thanks to the BOA fastening distributing pressure evenly across the top of the foot.
Fully featured, handmade, well designed, genuinely effective and looks great- punches above its weight for the price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Looks, reflectivity, quality of build, comfort, comfort, stiffness and pedalling efficiency.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Half sizes not easily available in UK, despite being made, and slight difficulty getting shoes on due to length of BOA cable but not a big deal.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Unusual and striking looking shoes offering all the bells and whistles and performance levels of many much higher priced options.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 1.65m Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.