The Fizik R4B Donna sits somewhere between mid and high performance among women's cycling shoes, and is, in fact, the mid-range women's shoe from the brand. And very good it is too.
The range of female specific road shoes has grown steadily in recent years, a nod towards the ever increasing popularity of the sport with both genders. The majority of women's shoes still sit within the entry level or mid-range bracket but more manufacturers are venturing into higher performance models too.
When you're spending this sort of money on a pair of cycling shoes, you're inclined to start being quite picky about build quality, weight, comfort, performance AND looks. As with most of Fizik's shoes, the R4B Donna have nailed it on the looks side of the equation, provided you like white shoes.
The lines are sleek and the shiny turquoise patent effect tongue and turquoise heel lining, toe and heel grips contrast nicely with the stark matt white microfiber upper.
The shoe fastens with two Velcro straps and a Boa IP1-A closure, all of which, along with the toe and heel grips, are replaceable as accessories from Fizik. Both the upper and the tongue are heavily perforated for ventilation. The outsole is carbon fiber injected and designed to take three point road style cleats.
The fit of the shoes is slightly generous for the stated size, but not overly so and those with a somewhat broader or higher volume foot may well want to consider them as an option. The straps and Boa system tighten and adjust easily and effectively, and the foot is kept good and secure, once adjusted.
Out on the bike, the shoes are light and stiff, giving good power transfer successfully coupled with long ride comfort. Responsive enough for racing, but comfortable enough for the longest of sportives, these shoes are even pretty reasonable to walk in.
The perforations mean that feet overheat less than in many shoes, but they do mean that those whose feet run cold might want to consider toe covers or oversocks, which seems a shame with such pretty shoes. That said, the matt white finish does very quickly get dirty in wear and is quite hard to clean effectively.
At £40 more expensive than the bottom of the range R5B Donna, they weigh 10g per shoe less, so it's worth working out how much that weight saving is worth to you as a buyer. At this price point, they come out a shade lighter than most equivalent women's shoes, enough to consider anyway.
Stylish and well-performing shoes with long ride comfort at a competitive price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik R4B Donna Womens road shoes
Size tested: 39
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?
Designed for female road orders and racers.
"R4B Donna: fi'zi:k's range of road cycling shoes is developed in collaboration with leading professional cyclists and used to great effect by WorldTour, Olympic and World Championship riders. The best technologies, materials, R&D, testing and manufacture techniques are used to deliver you the best shoes for road riding and racing, and trickle down throughout the range. As with all fi'zi:k Women's shoes, the cut, sizing and styling are made specifically for female riders."
Definitely high performance and built and styled for women.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Material: Microtex laser perforated
Outsole: Injected Carbon Vented
Closure system: Boa IP1-A and Micro Straps
Insole: fi'zi:k cycling Insole
R4B Donna offers a carefully crafted blend of comfort and light weight, fit, power transfer and aerodynamic efficiency.
R4B Donna's single Boa IP1-A closure control is light, fast, secure, aerodynamic and comfortable – and is complemented by a pair of light, neatly adjustable micro-straps.
The R4B Donna's injected carbon fiber outsole is stiff for power transfer and sculpted to aid aerodynamics. It combines with the proven supportive and comfortable fi'zi:k Cycling Insole with sculpted footbeds and supportive heel to ensure that every precious watt goes straight into your pedals.
The R4B Donna's Microfiber upper is hard-wearing, light, and resilient with enough flexibility to ensure comfort for every woman rider's foot, but strong enough to withstand the demands of racing – without any weight penalty. The diamond-shaped laser-cut perforations help temperature management.
Available in sizes EU37-43 with half sizes
Very well made and top notch components
Performed very well indeed
The ability to buy replacement bits and pieces means these will last a lot longer than many cheaper road shoes. The matt white finish attracts dirt and isn't easy to clean so cosmetically they age quite quickly but remain functional.
Well shaped but best suited to an average to slightly broader foot and heel
Sizing can be slightly unusual, varying both ways, so definitely worth trying on before purchase.
Good and light, especially at this price.
Very comfortable indeed, no matter the length of ride and even when walking.
This is a performance shoe and the price reflects that. It's marginally cheaper than many equivalents, considering its weight and the option of replacement bits make it better value too.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Once dirty, which happens quickly, it's tricky to get the matt white upper clean
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Exceptionally comfortable and very stiff and allowed good power transfer.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Matt white finish invites dirt, slightly tricky sizing
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably. Definitely in the sales.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Use this box to explain your score
These are performance women's shoes offering a good balance of comfort and stiffness at a price comparable to the competition. They look good too.
About the tester
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.