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The new top-of-the-range Vittoria Ikons are very good road shoes that combine stiff outsoles with heat-mouldable inner soles and supple uppers.
The unidirectional carbon-fibre outsoles don't flex at all in use, not even when you get out of the saddle and stamp on a big gear. We say this so often regarding high-end shoes these days that it's hardly notable. Manufacturers have sussed how to make stiff, lightweight soles.
These soles feature four sizeable mesh-covered holes that add breathability, and small heel and toe pieces that both provide protection for the carbon-fibre and stop you slipping when you walk to and from your bike. I've not had any dicey moments when loaded up with coffee at the post-ride cafe stop, and that has to be a good thing (for me, at least).
The uppers are made from a flexible microfibre that conforms well to the contours of your feet and doesn't stretch. You can probably make out from the photos that the material is peppered with little holes. These laser-cut perforations don't let as much air through as a mesh panel but, on the other hand, they do cover most areas of the shoe (it's just the toe and a section of the heel that are hole-free) so your feet stay pretty cool and sweat-free on hot days.
Closure is taken care of by Vittoria's new SSP system. You get two laces per shoe, each tightened by a clicky dial. It's very easy to reach down and adjust the tension in either direction while you're on the move. I found that they held the shoes in place firmly without any discomfort.
The dials themselves don't feel quite as sturdy and reassuring as some I've used from other manufacturers, but I've been using these shoes for a couple of months and they've worked just fine throughout.
There are very few seams to bother you and the tongue protects you from any pressure from the laces, so I found the uppers really comfortable. The insoles are comfy too. They're heat mouldable – or, rather, the arch supports are heat mouldable. You bake them in the oven for a couple of minutes at 90°C, refit them, and then put the shoes on for three minutes. The arch supports mould to the shape of your feet and stay that way once they've cooled. It's a very easy process and I did find that it made a small improvement to the fit, although, as you might expect, not as much difference as fully heat moulded shoes (where the uppers are moulded too).
One other feature that's worth noting is the anti-slip fabric (some people call it a cat's tongue fabric) inside the heel. Although it's a fairly small panel, it really does help to prevent heel lift when you're going full gas.
I found the sizing of the Vittorias to be just a smidge generous (an Italian brand with generous sizing? There's a first!). As ever, try before you buy if at all possible to make sure you get the best fit.
Stiff soled and reasonably lightweight road shoes with a good amount of comfort
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Make and model: Vittoria Ikon Road Shoes
Size tested: Size 46, Orange
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?
This is Vittoria's top-end road shoe.
Vittoria says, "Ikon, a high performance cycling shoe proudly made in Italy. Featuring a unique design with the uppers made in Microfiber Soft Touch and our Advance One frame technology that gives an aggressive/racing look with the frame in black and the uppers chromatic contrast in orange, white or green.
"SSP Vittoria micrometrics closure system, Vittoria UD carbon sole and performance mouldable insole."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Vittoria lists these features:
* Microfiber Tech, with nano holes laser cutting technology.
* Nylon mesh upper support.
* SSP micrometrics fastening system.
* Full Carbon UD Air System Sole
The unidirectional carbon-fibre soles feel very stiff in use and I found the uppers to be very comfortable.
Ours weighed 685g - but that is for a size 46. These aren't the lightest shoes we've ever reviewed, but they're still reasonably light.
I found the comfort level to be high. We all have differently shaped feet, but the fact that the upper is supple and the tongue offers good padding mean that many people will get along well with these.
£255 has become a pretty normal price for a top-of-the-range shoe. How did that happen?!?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
You can get lighter, but in terms of stiffness and comfort these perform really well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Sole stiffness, comfortable and easily adjusted closure system.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm really not into the orange – it reminds me too much of the 1980s – but I could happily rock the equally Euro white version.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd consider it, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yeah, I'd definitely tell them to take a look.
Use this box to explain your score
The overall score should be somewhere between a 7 (good) and an 8 (very good), I'd say. The sole stiffness and the comfort are really important in a pair of shoes, and both are high enough here to earn the Ikons an 8.
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.