Fi'zi:k Terra Ergolace X2 Review
Cons: flexible sole, flimsy upper, short laces
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Fi'zi:k is a well-known name in the cycling industry for the popular saddles, bar tape, and shoes that they've been churning out since 1996. A few of our testers had prior experience using their saddles and bar tape, so we were excited to get our hands on a pair of their shoes to include in our test. Our excitement was tempered the first time we took the Terra Ergolace X2 out for a ride and found that the low weight and sleek look didn't stand up well to the rigors of hard pedaling. After a few weeks of testing, we found a few things to like about this model, but on the whole, we don't think it stacks up well with the competition.
The Ergolace X2 loses a ton of ground to the competition in the power transfer department. The first time we took these out to the trails, we immediately noticed a lack of foot support. Even when just cruising up a climb, it's apparent with every pedal stroke that the shoe is flexing slightly over the pedal, and when you stand up and really lay down the power, it feels like the shoe is flattening and folding over the pedal. The stretchy material of the shoe's upper doesn't help to keep your foot in place when things start stretching, and one of our testers noticed that his ankle would start collapsing inward as he increased the power.
In addition to the power lost from all the flexing, we found that our feet ended up working overtime on long rides to try and keep the body supported. After a couple of hours of riding, we started noticing foot fatigue, and one tester reported cramping in his arch on a long descent.
The Terra Ergolace X2 is a comfortable shoe, but it's not like any other mountain bike shoe we've used. Slipping one of these lightweight kicks over your foot almost feels like throwing on your everyday tennis shoes. The upper is lightweight, thin, and stretchy, and once you have them laced up, it feels like you could take a jaunt around the block without any discomfort. Compared with the usual stiff, padded feel of trail or all-mountain shoe, you hardly notice these on your feet. The fit is fairly standard and size-correct. They sit slightly on the narrower end of the spectrum among shoes we tested, but the flexible upper means they'll fit most foot shapes.
The no-frills closure system consists of standard laces with a small elastic band on the top of the tongue to keep everything tucked away once they're tied. The tongue and laces are offset to the outside of the foot to avoid hotspots and pressure across the instep. Unlike most modern trail shoes, there's no velcro power strap across the top of the foot to ensure a tight fit after they've been laced up.
Traction and Walkability
Most of the problems that we had while pedaling in these shoes showed up as benefits when we hopped off the bike for a quick hike. Pushing up and over unrideable obstacles, hiking to re-ride features, and hanging out in the parking lot for a post-ride beer were all made more enjoyable by the Ergolace X2's flexible, grippy sole. The nylon shank at the cleat mount is small enough that walking feels normal, and the sole flexes enough to contour to uneven terrain.
The outsole is comprised of grippy, Vibram rubber with decent-sized lugs that work in most conditions. We hiked these shoes in everything from midsummer dust to muddy winter grease and found that the sole's soft, grippy rubber handled it all. The stretchy Ripstop woven upper struggles at times to support the foot in off, camber, or uneven hiking situations. We wouldn't want to backpack the Pacific Crest Trail in these things, but for short hike-a-bikes, they're one of the better models we tested.
Tipping our kitchen scale at just 378 grams, the Ergolace X2's weight is far-and-away it's best feature. That's more than 100 grams lighter than some of our favorite trail and enduro shoes. Fi'zi:k's claimed weight is even lower at 329 grams for a size 42.5. Our test shoes were a bit bigger, so the added weight makes sense. As a trail shoe, the Ergolace X2 bests some of the snazziest XC race shoes we tested in the weight department, including the Editor's choice, Giro Empire VR90.
The abnormally low weight for a shoe in this category means that the Terra Ergolace X2 comes with considerably less foot protection than we would expect. The thin upper and toe box doesn't provide much peace of mind when pedaling through chunky trail sections or around toe-grabbing boulders. Testers noticed a bit of hesitation in our pedal stroke from the subconscious awareness that their feet were more exposed than usual.
Overall, the Terra Ergolace X2 is a well-constructed product made from high-quality materials. We had no issues with our test pair after a few weeks of riding, but we have some concerns about their longevity in the face of heavy use. With so much flex while pedaling, we worry about the seams fatiguing over time or the sole un-bonding from the upper. If you watch the shoe closely as it flexes, it puts a lot of stress on a few specific areas. Even with the highest quality manufacturing, a shoe can only stand up to so much stress like that before it starts to give up.
Another of our concerns stems from the shoe's thin upper and lack of padding. Foot protection aside, mountain bike shoes tend to take an unavoidable beating out on the trails. The best shoes out there tend to have reinforcement and padding in commonly-impacted areas to ensure that they stand the test of time. The Terra Ergolace X2 is decidedly light on support in the upper.
Among the shoes we tested, the Terra Ergolace X2 sits on the cheaper end of the spectrum, but we still can't recommend it as a good value for most users. There are multiple shoes at a similar or lower price point that provide far better all-around performance, including the Scott MTB Team Boa. If you value walkability above all else, these shoes might be worth a look. Still, even in that case, the Specialized Rime 2.0 is just slightly more expensive and does a far better job of striking a balance between pedaling and walking performance.
Fi'zi:k sought to land the Terra Ergolace X2 smack dab on the fine line between on-the-bike performance and off-the-bike comfortability. We think they landed ever-so-slightly too far towards the comfortability side of things. These shoes are great for getting over a downed tree in the trail or getting off to push up that steep summit pitch. On the bike, though, they leave a lot to be desired.
— Zach Wick