Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Riding Fi’zi:k’s New R1 Cycling Shoe
Garmin-Cervelo’s David Millar and BMC’s Alessandro Ballan are two of the first exclusively selected pro road cyclists that will be racing in fi’zi:k’s new cycling shoe for the 2011 season. Pro cycling fans may have caught a glimpse of Ballan in the new midnight black R1 –standing out distinctly among his teammates all white shoes - en route to his fourth place finish at Saturday’s Milan San Remo – pro cycling’s first monumental race of the season.
Though the requests from professional cyclists to ride the new shoes have been many, fi’zi:k’s strategy was to select only a few riders with whom they could work closely for feedback and future development. “Alessandro has long been part of the fi’zi:k family,” explained Sports Marketing Manager, Gabriele Benedetti. “He’s here in our backyard, and it’s not uncommon for him to visit the factory or for me to ride with him. This closeness enables us to gather immediate feedback.”
“The first impression I had when I tried the R1 was the super snug fitting; my foot felt surrounded,” said Alessandro Ballan. “But more impressive,” he continued, “is the capacity to transfer the power in a more equalized way with no dispersion. The result was that I am able to push more powerfully on the pedals. The insole has a great support and absorbs the vibration very well.”
That power transfer to the pedals to which Ballan refers is derived from the shoes 3D Flex System outsole. It’s a feature that both the R1 and R3 shoe models share, positioning each of fi’zi:k’s two new shoe models at the higher echelon of a high performance cycling shoe category. The 3D Flex System outsole is defined by a carbon fiber base for power transfer to the pedals; TEPEX® Heel Stiffener for firm heel support to eliminate wasted motion of the foot, and a nylon Mobius Rail for snug heel fitment.
Garmin-Cervelo’s David Millar’s interest peaked when fi’zi:k visited the team’s camp in late December of 2010. Detailed with his equipment and eloquently outspoken, Millar’s early reaction has been invaluable to the fi’zi:k product development team. “David Millar could not be a better representative. We are completely honored to have a rider of his caliber and class racing in our new shoes,” stated Steve Delacruz, Product Manager and Designer for fi’zi:k footwear. Delacruz continued, “He’s accessible, he’s happy to be an exclusive part of the program, and he is incredibly detailed with his feedback - right down to the packaging. We are extremely fortunate.”
“The design of the shoe is quite simply sublime,” Millar documented to fi’zi:k. “Keeping your branding so subtle is a stroke of genius and I think you are a few pedal strokes ahead of the masses; everybody is going back to retro styling, you have captured the zeitgeist.”
The new fi’zi:k R1 and R3 cycling shoes, having just landed at bike shops worldwide, were in development for two years. The man behind the design and development of the fizik shoes, Steve Delacruz, says. ‘The roots of the fi’zi:k collection are the history of quality and craftsmanship of Italian shoemaking. They represent our high standards of attention to detail, materials and technology, but utmost, the shoes represent respect for refined Italian styling. This sets them apart from all other high performance shoes on the market.”
Fi’zi:k’s new R1 and R3 shoe models were introduced at the 2010 Eurobike and Interbike shows to the surprise of the cycling world, as fi’zi:k had kept the new product line under tight wraps. Their foray into shoe manufacturing completes the triangle of contact points on the bike for the 16 year-old brand: gluteus maximus to the saddle; hands to tape ; and feet to shoes.
“It was a natural progression,” explained fi’zi:k Brand Director Nicola Rosin. “Fi’zi:k is no longer just a saddle brand and we’ve moved gradually in this direction. We built our high performance brand name on saddles but slowly entered categories that made logical sense. The I.C.S (Integrated Clip System): pa:k, blin:k light, and Cyrano seat posts are directly related to the saddle; handlebar tape and gel, triathlon arm rest pads, and mountain bike grips correlate to the second contact point of the triangle; and the shoes close the triangle. Our progressive strategy means we expand into categories when we are confident that our final product will lend a performance benefit and make a difference to those that use it – but not before.”
The men’s R1 (msrp $400) and the men’s and women’s R3 ($300) shoes are differentiated from competitors by a few distinct features: the use of Kangaroo leather for its ultra durability and soft touch, weather resistant racing sail cloth for the straps, and a highly customizable insole developed in partnership with SIDAS Technologies (R1 model).
The men’s midnight black R1 (273 grams / size 43) is differentiated by A 100% Kangaroo leather quarter panel, toe and heel panel. Further distinguishing the two models is the R1’s buckle with carbon fiber loading lever and an inclusive custom molded insole using SIDAS technologies Flashfit sytem.
Commented Millar, “The technology of the shoe seems spot on and the manufacturing quality is some of the best I've ever seen in a cycling shoe. The R1 is simply beautiful.” Ballan added further, “The quality of the shoes is incredible, and the attention to detail is maniacal.”
The men’s R3 (258 grams / size 43) and women’s R3 ( 206 grams / size 38.5) use a microtex quarter panel with Kangaroo leather covering the toe and heel panels where the shoe needs additional reinforcement and strength. Both men’s and women’s R3 models feature an aluminum buckle and ergonomic design EVA insole. The men’s R3 is available in Racing Red; and white with black heel and toe. The women’s R3 comes in pure white; and a matte/glossy black with a crème stripe dividing the two materials.
All models are handmade in Italy using a reverse stitching process along the outside of the tongue and collar called Rivalto. It is a traditional and revered Italian sewing technique known as an elegant method to finish the end of materials during stitching.
Fi’zi:k’s R3 cycling shoe models are in shops now.
In the USA, fi’zi:k saddles, shoes and cycling accessories are distributed through their US subsidiary, Highway Two, www.highwaytwo.com, 877.395.8088; to find a dealer near you, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.877.395.8088.
Photo off Ballan (far right) at Milan-San Remo by Riccardo Scanferla
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