The FLR F35.III is an entry-level shoe with decent looks and reasonable features for the price – though some details detract from a shoe best suited to those with narrower feet than me.
- Pros: Pretty stiff footbed, snug heelcup, initially comfortable
- Cons: Thick tongue, little adjustability over the front of the foot, lacking sufficient cleat markings
Having a local reputation as 'the guy who does bike stuff', I'm often asked my opinion on shoes, shorts and saddles. The answer is pretty easy most of the time: you need to try stuff on/ride it, because there's no real rhyme nor reason as to what will fit you and feel good after three hours out on the road. Certainly cost is no indicator – I've tried/tested items in all three categories costing several hundred quid down to 50 or so, and while yes, you generally get what you pay for, paying loads does not automatically translate into comfort. Sometimes it's the exact opposite.
The FLR F35.III shoe is somewhere in the middle ground here. At £65 they are definitely affordable and initially comfortable, but after a few long rides, you may find them not to your liking.
Available in black, black/yellow or white, the look is reasonably chic. In black/yellow the 'yellow' accents are properly high-vis, which may or may not be what you're after. There's also a wee smidge of actual reflective on the heel for night-time visibility.
Being an entry-level shoe, it's 100% synthetics and three Velcro straps. The rings of the straps are offset, so when done up the top is pulled over outside of the tongue area, 'to provide effective heel support', and the generous, snug heelcup does just that.
There's no give in the upper at all, so after a few hours you will possibly find yourself faffing with straps to accommodate swelling feet, especially in hot weather. The front of the shoe initially felt accommodating enough on my borderline-Hobbitish foots, but after a few hours and attempts to get more wiggle room, I realised that for me these are definitely a short-ride shoe. Sub-two hours on reasonably smashy hills, I found the FLR 35.IIIs to be quite rideable, but beyond that the design of the forefoot area and lack of adjustability led to cramped feelings.
Another point is the padded tongue. It's by far the chunkiest I've encountered in a road shoe, with a 5mm-thick neoprene-like insert. This was the first road shoe where I've noticed the tongue at all – it pressed into the tendon at the front of the ankle joint ('Tibialus anterior' – who knew?) and while not 'uncomfortable', it didn't need to be there and distracted from the feel of the shoe.
After a few long rides I also had the new experience of the tip of my right big toe going numb. While not painful, it was disconcerting and sent me off to t'internets for self-diagnosis. The only logical explanation was a consequence of the aforementioned tightness.
A check of cleat placement showed all was correct compared to previous shoe setups – although, another point against the FLR 35.III is that there's only one line of markings on the sole, not the usual three, which made getting a perfectly replicated left-right alignment tricky.
So all in all, a mixed bag for me. That's not to say your feet won't feel at home in the FLR 35.III – certainly if you are narrower of foot give these a try, especially if you're after everyday affordable shoes for a short commute, say – but for those with wider appendages, I'd suggest looking elsewhere.
A low-cost, nice-looking option that will suit those of a narrower foot, though not without some shortcomings
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road.cc test report
Make and model: FLR F-35.III Road Shoe
Size tested: 10.5, Matt Black/Neon Trim
Tell us what the product is for
FLR says: "Setting a higher standard for entry level footwear, our newly re-designed F-35 III, sports a minimalist and classic, yet fresh look, with a supple stretch resistant upper that hugs your foot like a second skin.
"The F-35 III upper rests on the lightweight R250 outsole, providing a perfect synthesis of stiffness with compliance and is secured with three low-profile straps. The main D-ring is angled to provide effective heel support, the middle strap allows for customized volume adjustment and the smaller strap near the toes secures the forefoot. Mesh air ports help keep feet dry and fresh. A great entry level shoe that delivers high performance for the aspiring rider."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Footbed: Molded EVA, breathable and removable.
Last: Performance last.
Upper: High-quality, breathable synthetic fiber with Strong nylon mesh inserts for ventilation.
Cleat: compatible with all 3-bolt systems.
Well put together.
They do an OK job on shorter rides; longer rides, for me, not so good.
For my feet, the fit wasn't great.
I'm a 10.5 UK, as tested, so no need to size up or down.
Pretty good at 610g compared with the competition.
For me personally, the fit wasn't great.
If they fit, the £65 RRP makes these a good buy.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's 100% synthetic, so looks like new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Well enough for short rides, but caused discomfort going longer than two hours.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The cramped forefoot, and thick padded tongue.
Did you enjoy using the product? Not for longer rides.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if the fit suited their feet.
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a tricky one because for my feet they aren't ideal, but the quality is good, the price is very good and if they suit your feet then comfort could be good for more than the hour or two I found them to be okay. The minimal cleat markings and over-thick tongue are negatives, though, as is the lack of give after time, otherwise they'd be a solid 7.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling