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The new Udog Distanza gravel shoes are very comfortable, supportive, and stiff enough for everything bar full-on racing – and there are other models in the range that cover that. The rubber toe cover boosts durability too. If you're interested in the Distanzas, check out our guide to the best cycling shoes, for on and off-road use.
The company has now extended the range with this Distanza gravel shoe, and again it's really very good.
First of all, the uppers are made from what Udog describes as a three-dimensional engineered mesh. The weave pattern changes in relation to where it is positioned on the shoes – thicker for more durability and support on the heel cup for instance, with a lighter weight mesh for the rest of the foot giving flex for movement as you walk or pedal.
The mesh is also opened up in other areas to promote airflow and breathability.
The Distanzas use laces for closure, which I know from other reviews some of you like, some of you don't.
I've got no problems with laces. Okay, you can't tweak the fit on the fly, but for anything other than very hard riding or racing, there isn't really any loss of performance over Velcro, buckles or Boa style systems in my opinion.
Udog incorporates its (TWS) Tension Wrap System alongside the laces, a system of TPU-laminated straps that wrap the insole of the shoe from one side to the other. When the laces are pulled tight, the shoe feels as though it really wraps around your feet, and thanks to the suppleness of the upper it gives a snug fit with no pressure spots anywhere.
I found it noticeably impressive when climbing or putting out a lot of power as the shoe can't drop at the heel, being held in place by even tension throughout.
Udog has also gone for a roomy fit. The toe-box has more space than a typically narrow road shoe, which gives you wriggle room when on longer rides, and allows for movement when walking for a bit of hike-a-bike.
The heel also has a textured material inside for extra grip when pedalling.
As for the sole, I found the shape to be highly comfortable too. The arch has a flowing curve to it, and I found it supportive without it being too high, which can cause hot spots.
On this model the sole construction is a carbon-reinforced nylon which is relatively stiff. When really going for it I could detect a small amount of flex, but should you need more stiffness then there is also a carbon fibre sole option, aptly named the Distanza Carbon.
The sole takes two-bolt cleat systems, and you get markings on the sole for alignment.
In addition to the nylon sole, there is also a rubber outer sole for grip and protection. It covers the heel, runs down the outside of the sole, and covers the front of the toe-box. It then wraps up over the toe section of the upper.
It's tough and has stood up excellently to me walking (and climbing) up steep gravel climbs, and provides a small amount of grip in soft mud should you find yourself plugging your way through a wet field.
There aren't any places for studs to screw in at the front like you'd find on many mountain bike shoes, but that isn't a major issue. Many gravel shoes omit those, too.
Udog offers 11 sizes, ranging from 38 to 48, although no mention of any half sizes or wide fit options. The shape is also said to be gender neutral.
I've been testing a size EUR 45, which translates to a UK 10.5 on Udog's guide. I'm a size 10 in UK shoes, and I found the fit of the Distanzas fine – good and close, with no slip at the heel, and room at the front.
Udog has a full size guide on its site with corresponding foot lengths; all you'll need is a tape measure to get the ideal size.
This standard Distanza model is pretty well priced at £160 (the Distanza Carbons are £220). Their quality is impressive throughout, which goes a long way to justify the price, and they're a big chunk cheaper than the Rapha Explore Powerweave shoes I reviewed in 2021, which now cost £295.
They have a fair few similarities in terms of the mesh-style upper, rubber outsole and nylon sole. The Raphas do have a carbon fibre section beneath the cleat, but to be honest I wasn't that impressed with the overall stiffness.
If you wanted a carbon sole, the Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon Shoes that Nick tested last year come in at £299.99 – that's £80 more than the Distanza Carbons. The Fiziks come with Boa systems for closure rather than laces.
If you put out a lot of power or like to ride very hard then you'll probably want slightly stiffer soles than these Distanzas offer, but other than that I can't really fault them.
The quality is great throughout, and they are incredibly comfortable for short or long rides, whether on gravel or road. The rubber toe cover means that your investment will be well protected, too.
Impressively comfortable gravel shoes with plenty of room, finished to a high quality
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Udog Distanza Shoes
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
Udog says, "DISTANZA gravel /off-road shoe incorporates an innovative, crag inspired outsole that wraps over the toe and around the heel for increased durability, protection and distinctive design.
This outsole, built around a carbon composite core, features a molded sticky rubber which winds over the toe and around the heel to create a rugged look. The super stiff carbon sole performs the best possible power transfer, while the innovative rubber molded construction is designed with large lugs that provide traction, protection and unparalleled walking comfort.
Like the UDOG road model Tensione, the DISTANZA gravel shoe incorporates the UDOG patented Tension Wrap System (TWS). The dynamic system is made of TPU laminated straps which wrap the insole from one side of the shoe to the other. This unique system hugs the metatarsal area of the foot from the instep to the bridge delivering an optimum fit and matchless ride-feeling throughout the entire pedal stroke. The hybrid lace-up closure structure provides 16 points of contact between foot and shoe upper, holding the foot for complete support while riding, hiking and walking. Distanza also features extra webbing eyestays to ensure greater comfort and closure possibilities.
Developed with comfort in mind, DISTANZA is shaped to offer a generous toe box and a deep heel cup. The shape of the shoe and the light upper provides a unique comfort whether on adventure, long days in the saddle, or bikepacking and travels.
The hybrid lace-up closure system allows UDOG to use upper materials that are lighter and more comfortable when compared to a standard cycling shoe while minimizing stitching. The upper is made of innovative three-dimensional engineered mesh, producing a material that is not only light and comfortable but also durable and breathable."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Outsole: Nylon Carbon Reinforced rubber outsole
Hybrid lace-up closure system
Tension Wrap System - TWS
Generous toe box & deep heel cup
Pull tab on heel for easy on and off
11 sizes from 38 to 48 full sizes gender neutral
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The mesh did get dirty when riding on wet days, but a wipe over with a damp cloth kept them looking reasonably new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very comfortable gravel shoes that have kept looking great thanks to the rubber outsole.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit throughout.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not the stiffest soles out there, but a model with a carbon fibre sole is available if that's an issue.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are well priced compared with similarly specced mesh gravel shoes we've reviewed.
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
For ultimate stiffness you may want the carbon fibre sole option, but other than that I can't fault these shoes when it comes to comfort, fit and performance. The quality is also very high, and they are competitively priced.
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,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!