Fizik's Terra Ergolace X2 is a smart leisure, mountain biking and commuting shoe that offers decent on-bike pedalling and slip-free off-bike performance. There are some build quality issues, though, a slightly strange design and fit, and they're quite expensive.
Although Fizik positions the Terra Ergolace X2 as a mountain bike shoe, it actually has a fairly refined appearance with subtle PU laminated toe and heel protection, a chunky but not monstrous Vibram outsole with nylon shank, and a ripstop fabric upper. Rounding things off is the offset Ergolace system, which is positioned on the outer side of each foot's instep, rather than along the top.
My initial impressions weren't hugely favourable. In the hand, the ripstop upper feels a little cardboardy. I'm not entirely sure why a shoe upper needs to be made of ripstop material in any case – I don't think I've ever seen a torn shoe upper in my life. Also, the stitching on the tongue of the right shoe had come away before I'd even slipped a foot inside…
…while the stitching on the left shoe's tongue wasn't looking too clever either.
One thing in the Terra Ergolace X2's favour is the very decent range of available cleat positioning, with 32mm of fore and aft adjustment allowed. This compares with just 28mm of adjustment on, say, Giro's Gauge shoe. So if you have a particularly unusual pedalling setup, the Fiziks might be well worth trying out.
On first wearing, comfort wasn't astounding, especially as I had previously spent a couple of weeks cosseted by the all-round plushness of Giro's Jacket IIs. Initially, there were a couple of rubbing points at the heel and instep, but these softened quickly. The stiff upper improved over time, too. Meanwhile, beneath and around my arches, the Terra X2 actually felt just a little loose.
As for that funky Ergolace system. Does it offer a revolution in shoe lacing performance and comfort? Not having your laces on the top of your foot certainly feels different at first, but you quickly adjust to it. According to Fizik, this lacing design offers a more anatomical fit, but you have to yank the laces pretty hard to notice. Once you're brave enough to do this, the Terra X2 does feels reasonably well sorted, although I still found there was a gap around the arch of my foot in certain foot positions.
In terms of the Terra X2's off-the-bike performance, the chunky sole tread offers very decent grip so you won't be slipping and sliding when walking. It's still a stiff sole, so you wouldn't want to spend too long or go too far by foot. But make no mistake, they're still immeasurably better than road shoes for off-the-bike practicality.
Fizik says it "designed the silhouette specifically to reduce bulk and avoid the puffy look of many mountain biking shoes – it's ready to blend in with civilization when the backcountry missions are complete". I think that's a fair assessment – these do not stand out as cycling shoes and you won't get any funny looks in the pub.
Thankfully, the Terras do stand out as cycling shoes when you're in the saddle. As mentioned, the nylon-shanked sole is too rigid for typical footwear, but good on the bike. Obviously it's not as stiff as a carbon-soled road shoe, but it's a fair trade-off and allows for a pedalling experience that feels suitably efficient when teamed with cleats and SPD pedals.
It's also only fair to say that my concerns about fitting don't seem so noticeable on the bike. In the saddle, there have been no obvious problems and going through the full range of the pedal stroke causes no issues. The Terra offers good general support, although I still think some improved cushioning wouldn't go amiss – the tongue in particular is very thin.
Weatherproofing isn't too bad, either. While I questioned the ripstop upper on first sight, in drizzle it does a good job of keeping your feet dry. On super-cold days you might want to partner these shoes with an overshoe, though, as windproofing and warmth retention are not the Terra's strong suits.
Of shoes we've tested recently that share similar aims as the Terras, there are Rapha's £220 Explore Shoes and the commuting/touring-focused Giro Republic LX R for £179.99. However, both those shoes are a significant step up in terms of build quality compared to the Terras.
In fact, even Giro's Gauge mountain bike shoes, which cost £84.99, are, to my eyes, better made. In many respects the Fiziks are probably nearer Triban's £44.99 RC 500 SPD. Despite the decent performance, when you factor in the build quality issues found with my test pair and general aesthetics, it's hard to make a case for them being good value.
While the Terra Ergolace X2s offer some ability off the bike, these are still very much cycling shoes. And although I still have some reservations about the Ergolace system and stiff upper, they actually do the job fairly well on the bike. Unravelling threads on both of a pair of £119 shoes is inexcusable, though.
Smart mountain bike, leisure and commuting shoe with some build quality issues
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Terra Ergolace X2 shoes
Size tested: 10 1/2 UK
Tell us what the product is for
The Terra Ergolace X2 is a smart mountain bike shoe. Fizik has plenty to say about this, so buckle up: "ERGOLACE X2 is a rugged, adaptable, lace-up mountain biking shoe that's true to the roots of off-road riding: tackling every kind of terrain, happy going up and down hill, on and off the bike.
"It's a trail and all-mountain shoe, and much more besides. Like a do-it-all-mountain bike, Terra X2 shoes are pure versatility in both function and form. Whether it's venturing on alpine tours, sessioning trails or simply escaping for an after-work ride, these shoes ask for adventure.
"The Ergolace pattern cradles the foot, securing the fit with an ergonomic lace-up closure. The upper offers protection from the elements: its hardwearing ripstop woven fabric resisting tearing and ripping. A PUlaminated toecap and side reinforcements add further protection and durability. We designed the silhouette specifically to reduce bulk and avoid the puffy look of many mountain biking shoes – it's ready to blend in with civilization when the backcountry missions are complete.
"The X2 outsole expresses the versatility of these shoes: engineered to deliver an optimal balance between efficient pedaling performance and flexibility for comfort and control, on and off the bike, so riders are covered for those hike-a-bike moments. The compressed EVA midsole provides stability and cushioning, while the Vibram rubber tread ensures grip and traction, whatever the conditions underfoot. The directional lug pattern has been designed for confident footing on clipless pedals, with spacing and depth designed to bite into softer soil and a compound ideal for gripping on slick rocks.
"X2 has an extended cleat track, with more set back and greater flexibility for choosing cleat placement."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
X2 outsole – nylon shank, EVA midsole and Vibram tread, stiffness index 3
Ergolace: ergonomic lace-up closure for an anatomical fit
Ripstop fabric: woven fabric resistant to tearing and ripping
X2 outsole: Vibram grip for traction, on and off the bike
The Terra Ergolace X2s felt a little cheap from the off – an impression that wasn't helped by the stitching on both left and right shoe tongues coming away instantly.
Decent pedalling platform for a nylon-shanked sole and good grip off the bike.
The tongues might be an isolated problem, but these still don't feel like super-sturdy shoes.
The Ergolace system is supposed to offer an anatomical fit, but a gap forms between the foot arch and the side of the shoe in certain positions off the bike.
Fine, fitted as expected.
About right for a mountain bike shoe, although I actually expected these to be a little lighter because of their slightly more refined appearance.
Not uncomfortable but nowhere near as cosseting as some rivals.
Giro's Gauge mountain bike shoes, which cost £84.99, are, to my eyes, better made. In many respects the Fiziks are probably nearer Triban's £44.99 RC 500 SPD.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The Terra Ergolace X2 have been relatively easy to clean.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
On the bike, performance is pretty good (or at least as good as you'd expect). Off the bike, grip is good, too, although the stiff sole means you wouldn't walk in these for fun.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Performance on the bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Build quality issues.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Rapha's Explore Shoes are £220 and the commuting/touring-focused Giro Republic LX R are £179.99. However, both those shoes are a significant step up in build quality compared to the Terras. In fact, even Giro's Gauge mountain bike shoes, which cost £84.99, are, to my eyes, better made. In many respects the Fiziks are probably nearer Triban's £44.99 RC 500 SPDs.
Did you enjoy using the product? Some of the time.
Would you consider buying the product? Nope. They're not cheap, and with the build issues mentioned and overall feel I don't think they're worth the money.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Nope
Use this box to explain your overall score
While Fizik's Terra Ergolace X2s do a decent enough job on the pedals, and provide enough grip for safe off-the-bike excursions, build quality issues and pricing are too significant to ignore.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 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, mountain biking, leisure