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The Fizik Vento Stabilita Carbon road shoes are one of the most innovative, adjustable, and comfortable pairs of shoes I have used. They also deliver exceptional stiffness from the carbon sole, for excellent power transfer. The price is high, putting them at the top end of the market, but the performance is excellent.
What sets these cycling shoes apart is that they are designed to offer fully adjustable arch support, alongside maximum sole stiffness and comfort, so I was very keen to test them.
A few years ago I decided to take up running, but every time I tried I would injure my right knee after just a couple of weeks. I eventually went to a physio who told me I needed more arch support in my shoes, as this was causing the weakness in my knee that kept resulting in injury.
I've used Giro's Empire SLX shoes for the past few years, which come with three different inserts that offer some additional support but don't offer the kind of adjustability you get with these Fiziks.
The way this adjustability works, as you can see from the photos, is with a section cut out from the carbon sole, with the top Boa dial connected to a strap that tightens from the middle of your foot all the way over the top and around your instep, securing basically at the bottom of your foot.
Inside the shoe, there are cutouts along the instep of the insole, allowing it to bend and support a huge amount of adjustability.
How effective is it? Very. There's a little discomfort – or perhaps just strangeness – initially, from your feet being in a new position, but this soon fades. Funnily enough, I bought some custom insoles for my running shoes just a few days before I started testing the Fiziks, and they felt very similar, taking a couple of weeks before they felt right.
It's not just down to the innovative straps, but also because of the micro-adjustability of the new Boa dials. I found the difference between comfort and slight discomfort could be down to only a couple of clicks on the dial, so being able to micro-adjust on the go meant I could consistently maintain comfort while my feet were adjusting to riding with more arch support.
On top of the benefits that come with the arch support, the shoes also grip your feet well without needing to be tightened as much as some. This took a bit of getting used to because around 75 per cent of the foot is held under tension, rather than about 15-20 per cent with laces, for instance. I did wonder whether it might mean looseness around the heel cup, but didn't find this to be an issue, and Fizik has included silicone grippers up the back of the heel which also keep everything in place.
They're Boa's top-of-the-range Li2 dials, which are made from recycled plastic and have a lower profile than the previous IP1 dials. The lower profile allows for improved aerodynamics and helps overshoes to fit more comfortably over the shoes, which, given their design, is likely to be useful.
This is because of the makeup of the shoe, with the main upper being a kind of coated mesh with a lot of ventilation holes within it, while the area of adjustability within the instep basically just doesn't have the rubberised coating, so when you use these in the wet they just let water through.
On the plus side, given this cutout and the mesh on the uppers, they are very well ventilated, so much so that I would almost classify them as summer shoes. I have used them on dry, cold days and they have been fine, but you might want to chuck on an extra pair of socks when the temperatures begin to drop.
On top of all the adjustability and ventilation, these are among the stiffest shoes I have used – which is particularly impressive given that about 25 per cent of the carbon sole has been cut away. This is potentially made up for by the increased thickness of the carbon around the rest of the shoe, which appears thicker than other carbon-soled shoes I have. I am a little bit of a shoe fanboy, and have used many top-end shoes over the past few years, and there is little doubt that these are among the very top in terms of stiffness and power transfer. When sprinting or giving it the full beans up a hill you really notice it.
Fizik has also positioned the cleat holes slightly further forward than other shoes I have used, so if there were any flex you would really notice it more than others.
Getting the right position for your cleats is simple, with engraved measurements on the bottom allowing you to fit your cleats with accuracy.
These shoes hit the scales at a very impressive 439g for these size 43s, which puts them among the lightest shoes we've seen on road.cc. The Specialized S-Works EXOS weighed 340g and the Giro Prolight Techlace shoes were 386g, but then both pairs are very much aimed at weight reduction.
With an eye-watering rrp of £374.99, the Fiziks are at the top end of the market, but they hold their own against some of the big hitters. The Sidi Shot 2s, for example, are the same price but weight around 180g more, and Anna didn't find them particularly comfortable. Gaerne's Carbon G.STLs are £5 more and about 150g heavier, but are perhaps a little more hardwearing.
Overall, I was very impressed with these shoes. Yes, they're expensive, and they let water in freely around the adjustable area, but they are also comfortable, stiff, light, and have excellent ventilation. But it's the arch support that is truly innovative and a real game changer for people like me who need it.
Expensive, but excellent – stiff, comfortable and innovative
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Vento Stabilita Carbon road shoe
Size tested: 43
Tell us what the product is for
A high-end pair of race shoes designed to not only provide adjustable arch support, but to also put as much power as possible through the pedals.
Fizik says, 'A racing shoe that priotises foot stability through the use of a fully adjustable plantar support system, our Dynamic Arch Support 2.0, to adapt to an individual rider's anatomy for next-level performance
Dynamic Arch Support 2.0 - Every useful watt of power generated whilst cycling is transferred to the bike through the soles of the feet. When the plantar fascia is properly supported, the medial arch stiffens, allowing for efficient power transfer. Because of this, providing adjustable arch support is vital for both comfort and performance in a competitive cycling shoe.
Individually adjusted for fit with its own BOA dial, the Dynamic Arch Support 2.0 system is fully integrated feature of fizik's new carbon outsoles with a dedicated portion of the shoe's upper wrapping around the plantar arch for improved support while adapting to each rider's unique foot shape.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
PU laminated mesh upper
Li2 Dual Zone BOA® Fit System configuration
R1 Arch outsole – full carbon unidirectional, stiffness index 10
Weight: 227g (size 42 - 1/2 pair)
Sizes: 36-48 (37 to 47 also in half sizes)
Vento: performance racing series designed in collaboration with professional cyclists
Intended use: road racing
The construction is top quality, as it needs to be, not only because there is less carbon to hold everything in place, but also because there are more anchored ends that have the potential to come loose.
With some of the stiffest soles I have come across, combined with the adjustability of the arch support for comfort, the performance elements work as they should.
The one non-coated section might wear quicker, but I would still expect these to last several years.
When you can adjust your shoes as much as this it's difficult not to give it a 10.
I normally wear a 42 but with Fizik it is generally accepted that you should size up, and the 43s fitted perfectly.
Again, very impressive, hitting the road.cc Scales of Truth at just 439g. Given that the selling point of these shoes is the arch support rather than the weight, this is particularly noteworthy.
Again, with the amount of adjustability available in these shoes, once you get used to the additional support and your feet adjust, it's hard not to find settings that keep your feet comfortable.
Yes they're expensive, but compared with others at this price they're generally lighter and also have the innovative arch support that no others offer.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Generally, it's simple to clean the tops, which are coated in a kind of rubberised material that's basically wipe clean. However, the adjustable instep area is a little more complex given that it's fabric, but I would never consider putting these through a washing machine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well; they are stiff, comfortable, and deliver on the promised adjustability and arch support.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The adjustability and retention; my feet are held around the majority of their circumference rather than just at the top, so you don't need them as tight – a great unexpected benefit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They're very expensive; they might perform better than others at this price, but they'll be out of the reach of many.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Sidi Shot 2s come in at the same price but weight around 180g more and Anna did not find them particularly comfortable. The Gaerne Carbon G.STL are £5 more and about 150g heavier but are perhaps a little more hardwearing.
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
They're exceptional: very comfortable, adjustable, and stiff, doing everything required of top-end racing shoes. Add in the innovative arch support and you're on to a winner.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.