The FLR F-XX II Strawweight Road Race shoes are pretty good across the board, with a decent weight, great fit and super-stiff soles making them ideal for the type of rider who puts power transfer and efficiency above all else. For some, though, those soles might be a little too harsh.
- Pros: Atop lacing system is very comfortable, stiff soles
- Cons: Erm... stiff soles
The F-XX IIs are the new versions of the original F-XX that Mat tested back in 2016, which FLR says it has made – yeah, you've guessed it – lighter and stiffer.
Weight-wise it's difficult to do a direct comparison as these are a size 45 whereas the pair Mat tested, which weighed 617g, were a 46. The F-XX IIs are 540g which doesn't make them superlight but well in the range I'd expect to see for this type of shoe.
Starting at the bottom, the F-XX IIs use FLR's elite-level R500 sole which is very stiff indeed. They're certainly one of the stiffest pairs of shoes I've currently got in the house.
You can feel that nothing is being wasted power-wise; they are ruthlessly efficient. FLR says that the sculpted footbed and supportive heel are designed to aid blood flow to reduce hot spots, which mostly works very well, although I did have a few instances of pain after prolonged hard efforts.
This mostly happened when I was riding on rough, broken road surfaces, those type of lanes where the top layer of tarmac is pitted and cracked. The stiff soles send the vibrations through the soles of your feet, and it's something worth bearing in mind if comfort is more important to you than performance.
The full-carbon sole is marked for cleat alignment and will accept all three-bolt cleat systems.
The upper is still made from a microfibre but FLR has tweaked the design a bit to create a sleeker profile (well, that's what it says in the description). The material is soft but still pretty scuff-resistant and easy to wipe clean with a cloth, and comes in either this matt black finish or white.
For fastening, the F-XX IIs use Atop dials, with one tightening the top section and the lower tensioning the middle and bottom lace guides together.
They draw the tension evenly across the top of the foot with no pressure points, and with the upper being so pliable the shoes wrap comfortably around your feet, so you don't need to overtighten them to stop your foot moving.
Ventilation is taken car of by vents above the toes, up the tongue and either side of the foot, plus one extra on the sole directing cool air below your foot.
Bearing in mind how cold my feet were in these during the February frosts, I can vouch for how much air they let in, so they should be fine when it comes to the summer months.
The price of the latest models hasn't changed, and although £179.99 isn't exactly cheap, it's not extreme for a pair of carbon-soled race shoes, especially with this level of fit and quality. Everything looks very well put together, with no stray threads or excess glue around the sole.
For similar attributes, the Specialized Torch 3.0 shoes are around the same weight and priced at £200. You can pay less – dhb's Aeron Carbons are some of the cheapest carbon-soled shoes we've tested in a while at £120 – but the FLRs are worth the extra for the better ventilation and more supple uppers, I'd say.
If you can cope with the stiff sole and want a pair of no-nonsense performance shoes then the F-XX IIs are a great choice.
Very good all-round race shoes with loads of stiffness at the sole
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road.cc test report
Make and model: FLR F-XX.II Strawweight Road Race Full Carbon Sole Shoe
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
FLR says, "The updated F-XX-II sports a sleeker profile, a more rigid carbon outsole and is molded using a lighter microfiber upper. The F-XX II features the elite R500 stiff carbon fiber outsole for maximum power transfer and a sculpted footbed and supportive heel that aid to increase blood Flow, reduce hot spots and ensure that every power watt goes directly into your pedal for maximum performance output.
"The seamless upper mold is formed from a single piece of lightweight microfiber, with 6 air mesh inserts across the toe box and side panels to create an even airflow around the shoe and provide excellent ventilation for the entire foot.
"Two independent adjustable retention dials optimize closure in each of the critical foot zones. The upper dial secures the arch and forefoot, while the lower dial locks the ankle /heel ensuring a snug fit and zero heel movement.
"A new one piece toe guard and heel guard have been designed to further reduce weight, increase airflow and improve off the bike stability."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Footbed: Performance Insole.
Last: Pro tour last.
Upper: Premium microfiber with Strong nylon mesh inserts for ventilation.
Cleat: compatible with all 3-bolt systems.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The upper is easy to wipe clean with a cloth.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very stiff soles make these great shoes for those who don't want any power loss.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Impressive closure system.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Soles could be too stiff for some.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The FLRs are well made and with a very nice fit, but the soles are very stiff, which can become uncomfortable on rough roads. They're an 8 if it's power transfer and efficiency you want; maybe consider them a 7 if you want a little more comfort.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.