The FLR F-XX 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
Starting at the bottom, the F-XXs 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, including the Shimano RC9s and the Giant Surge Pro Road shoes.
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 lightweight microfibre but FLR has tweaked the design a bit over earlier models 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-XXs 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 care 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.
They are stiffer than the £200 Bontrager Ballistas and are only about 5g heavier.
The FLRs are a fair bit lighter than the Rapha Classics for the same money, and look to compete on stiffness and comfort, too.
Overall, if you can cope with the stiff sole and want a pair of no-nonsense performance shoes then the F-XXs are a great choice.
Very good all-round race shoes with loads of stiffness in the sole
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road.cc test report
Make and model: FLR F-XX Strawweight Road Race Full Carbon Sole Shoe in Black
Size tested: 10.5
Tell us what the product is for
FLR says, "The Pro Tour rider of AG2R La Mondiale chooses to ride with FLR's top of the range F-XX shoes in the world class peloton. Julien has already made 5 Giro d'Italia, one Vuelta a Espana and many of the other major world tour races.
"The FLR F-XX shoe was designed in close cooperation with Julien. His expertise has influenced the development of the shoe, to create the world's greatest cycling shoe."
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.
The sizing was spot on with the EUR45 fitting exactly how I'd expect.
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.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
With a very stiff carbon sole, Boa style fastening system and the comfort on offer, these shoes stand up well against the competition when it comes to price.
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: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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.