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Supremely comfortable and cool, if you know that you'll be in the market for a lightweight and stiff summer shoe in 2019 then Fizik's Infinito R1 Knit should be right in the mix, despite the hefty price tag.
We've seen a few knit-based cycling shoes hit the market in the last couple of years, and we've rated a couple highly: the mid-priced Giro Empire E70s and the ultra-premium Scott Road RC Ultimate shoes. Both scored highly in the breathability stakes, while also proving that the far more mouldable nature of a fabric upper section can really improve comfort in pretty much any situation you have in mind. Apart from wet and cold weather... obviously.
That's the downside the Fizik Infinito R1s also share – these shoes are certainly not for winter – but in any other situation they're an absolute dream to wear.
The knit upper is breathable and cool, albeit not as sock-like airy as you might expect. This is my first experience with knit-style shoes, and I have to say I'm slightly surprised that the R1 Knits gave such a well-insulated account of themselves during the autumn season.
I could wear them without toe covers into the low/mid-teens, and only felt too chilly when single figures came along on the temperature gauge. Shoe covers obviously make a huge difference here, but if you then sweat in them a lot or get soaked in a rain shower, the knit gets wet and then you're f… in a whole world of discomfort.
Let's not dwell on that point, though, because for the UK summer – and mild and dry spring and autumn weather too – they're superb. Without feeling overly cool or fragile, they provide plenty of breathability through eight vented sections, perfect for UK temperatures.
I'd heard stories that the R1 Knits can be a little too warm when put into the crucible of European high summer, so without the opportunity to really put this to the test I've used them for particularly grizzly turbo trainer sessions to replicate low-ventilation, warm ambient temperature scenarios.
It's true: they're not that much cooler than my pair of synthetic-upper Sidi Shots, but with a thin pair of technical socks they're hardly stiflingly warm either.
Like the also-top-level, equivalently priced Shots, they're not the lightest either, given that they come in at 679g for the pair. That's in an EU46 – one size higher than the EU45 Shots Dave Arthur tested in 2017, which tipped the scales at 640g – but it's nevertheless a little surprising.
It would seem that some brands are prioritising things other than low weight, and in the Fiziks at least it looks like the beef has gone into the strength of the knit upper and the overall quality.
They really are brilliantly put together, with a tri-zone wire fit system with two Boa dials in place on the flanks of the shoe to help secure the foot in place. Pressure distribution is customisable and ultimately very comfortable, while form fitting to the foot.
It's worth bearing in mind that I have feet on the slightly narrow side, so I can experience some lateral movement in some shoes that don't fasten as securely as some. The R1 Knits, though, allow a really comfortable fit over the foot and without any undue pressure zones, including the heel which isn't too narrow but features little rubber tabs inside to grip your sock gently.
I'm also a fan of the Dynamic Arch Support. There's a little fixed underfoot support in the sole, but the design of the shoe means that, when fastened, the underside of the arch is pulled up a touch into the foot too. The result is a cocoon-like feel around the foot (in tandem with the top tab that 'locks down' the foot), which manages to be supportive without pushing your foot into the upper like some with solid inserts can.
Fizik clearly thinks that this is enough as it doesn't supply replaceable arch supports, and actually I'm inclined to agree on the basis of my experience. Bike fitters might reserve the right to disagree.
The sole is Fizik's top-spec unidirectional carbon model, which is plenty stiff enough for pretty much anyone, full stop. Certainly, it can handle more than I'm capable of putting out as a competently fit sportive cyclist, and lapped up aggressive sprints and climbing around Bath with ease. It has six small vent holes to draw air through, too.
It also offers a surprising amount of comfort. I'd say that my Sidi Shots are marginally stiffer, but they're harsher too. I'd be very happy to spend a summer's day haring around the Somerset Levels in the Fiziks without worrying about numb feet or fatigue.
The biggest sticking point for many (most?) will be cost, although they're not alone at this level. The price matches up to Scott's Road RC Ultimate shoes and Sidi's Shots, and the Sidi Wire 2s aren't far behind. However, Giro's Empire Knit shoes are £150 less, and with that quality Easton EC70 sole they look great value against these, even if they don't have Boa dials.
Value aside, performance-wise there's no doubt in my mind that the R1 Knits are outstanding performers in the right conditions, and while one friend of mine – a Sidi fan – felt it was something akin to heresy, I preferred them over my Shots. They really are just that little bit more comfortable, with a spot-on fit, while meeting pretty much any performance metric you care to throw at them. Except when it comes to the winter, of course.
And I've not even mentioned how great they look. There are also some flashy knit colour designs available too if black isn't your thing. Personally, I like black: they look ultra-premium to go with that ultra-premium price tag, which if you're not worried about having the lightest kicks around, looks like money well spent.
Awesome performance, awesome comfort, awesome looks... you can almost forget about the awesome price tag too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Infinito R1 Knit shoes
Size tested: 46
Tell us what the product is for
Fizik says: "Perfectly fitting with maximum ventilation, class-leading comfort and unmatched power transfer, the Infinito R1 Knit road cycling shoe delivers ultimate race performance.
Infinito R1 Knit is the first knitted pro cycling shoe ever. Along with its unique knitted material, the all-new Infinito Closure System, superior stiffness, weight-saving materials and the intelligent implementation of new technology make it the pinnacle of performance road shoe design.
The knit material is highly breathable, for superior temperature management and enhanced comfort. It is extremely light yet strong and supportive, and looks amazing and dynamic. With Dynamic Arch Support technology's structure and the Increased Volume Control system, which shapes the whole shoe's upper directly around the foot's profile, Infinito R1 Knit fits any rider precisely, easily and comfortably.
The Infinito Closure System uses two micro-adjustable double Boa IP1-B dials with steel-coated nylon laces in an infinite configuration that adjusts the upper on the forefoot. The textile guides eliminate pressure points, providing optimum adaptable comfortable fit for high-power, high-intensity riding.
It harmonises with the new mesh footbed insole for the best possible ventilation and enhanced comfort. Its laterally stiff, light, Uni Direction Full Carbon Outsole is ventilated for maximum temperature control, and designed for ultimate power transfer from any riding style.
Infinito R1 Knit is fi'zi:k's range-topping shoe, and benefits from the latest technologies, materials and improved design based on feedback and input from some of the world's leading pro riders.
Infinito R1 Knit: ultimate race performance. Perfect. Perfected."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fizik lists these features:
- Materials: Unique new Knitted Material
- Outsole: Full UD Carbon Vented
- Closure system: Double Infinito IP1-B
- Insole: Infinito footbed
- Weight: 255g (size 42.5)
- Sizes: 37-47 and 48
No fears about the knit upper – it's a visibly high quality construction that (if looked after) should stand the test of time.
Critics might claim that it's a touch on the warm side in the hottest conditions (surprisingly), but I'd say this points it right at the UK summer market.
For a knit-based upper, the fabric is very sturdy. Plus, the fittings are all high quality too.
Just about the best fitting (and therefore comfortable) shoes I've ever worn.
Just about perfect in an EU46. Snug, but not uncomfortably so.
The truth is that 679g is chunky for a pair of shoes in this top price bracket. However, I don't think they suffer for it when it comes to performance.
Again, perhaps the most comfortable shoes I can remember wearing. I have gym trainers less comfy!
Hard one. How can something priced at £350 be very good value? The truth is, when you consider it against one rival in particular, it's hard to claim that it is. However, if you have the budget for them, these are top performers and deliver in everything other than winter weather (understandably). You get what you pay for, I think.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Cleaning is advised by wiping with a damp cloth – so that's easy enough.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort, fit, breathability, stiffness...
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Quite absorbent (obviously), a bit heavy, very expensive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It matches up to Scott's Road RC Ultimate shoes, as well as Sidi's Shot and near enough its Wire 2s too. However, Giro's Empire Knit shoes are £150 less, and with that quality Easton EC70 sole they look great value against these, even if they don't have Boa dials.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, they're my favourite shoes to date.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, even at this price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they had the budget.
Use this box to explain your overall score
There's a hefty price tag and some extra weight here, but the truth is that the comfort and performance you get from these shoes marks them out as absolute stunners.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding