Fi'zi:k R5B Uomo Boa Review
Cons: Toe strap doesn’t allow true micro adjustment, sole flexes, on the heavy side
Our Analysis and Test Results
The R5B Uomo Boas are an excellent shoe that serve everyone from the green novices up through the gray masters. They bring serious quality and performance at an affordable price that will intrigue the experienced folks looking to replace their old gear and the new rider not wanting to slum it on their first buys. They were so incredible that we gave them our Best Budget Buy Award. We compare and contrast these to a full field of various shoes that run from entry to elite status. Read on to see how these stack up.
The Fi'zi:ks outperformed most of the other shoes in our lineup, scoring near the top in most categories. The chart above shows where they stand next to the premium and entry shoes, making clear why they won the Best Budget Buy Award.
Riders really notice two contact points in cycling: the tail (derriere) and the feet. Leave it to the saddle company known for saving our ass to come up with a shoe that will save our soles. The Microtex laser-cut upper combined with a Boa dial and simple sailcloth toe strap create a flexible shoe that uniformly holds the foot in place without creating hot spots or rubs. That's assisted by the generous padding and smooth sock liner enveloping the top of the foot. The Fi'zi:k Cycling Insole atop the sculpted footbed helps the foot meld into the shoe while eliminating the dead space that creates the jostling-clanking feel that can happen with boxy or cavernous shoes like the Lake CX 237.
Given the amount of effort that goes into engineering superior materials and designs, it is surprising that their fairly simple design delivers the superior comfort that it does. Scoring alongside it are the Shimano S-Phyre, which is a premium road shoe that won our Top Pick for Lightweight Racing and the Louis Garneau Course Air Lite II, which won our Best Bang for the Buck Award for its premium qualities that come in at a bargain price. All three shoes have just enough padding with a soft sockliner while creating even tightening across the foot.
The Giro New Republic came in just behind, which bodes well for riders more suited to touring, commuting, and spin. They bring a soft suede upper and smooth lining that covers a good deal of padding. As with the other high scoring models, the New Republics have a narrow rim that hugs the foot and cups for a snug fit. One significant detractor here is that the tongue tends to rub and cause discomfort if thick socks aren't worn. This can somewhat be mitigated by cutting the segments, but that can cause accelerated fraying and is visually inelegant. The Giros will work well for those looking for a more refined urbane crowd looking for multi-purpose gear, but a pure roadie will be more than pleased with Fi'zi:k's offering.
These kicks make no special claim to be super lightweight, and that's expected for an entry level shoe at $150.00 with limited carbon features. Their sole is made of a nylon-carbon composite that saves some weight, keeps the cost down, and adds to strength and rigidity. Their Microtex upper is strong and flexible with supple padding, but that brings with it added weight. They came in at 22 ounces in a men's 44, which puts them in the middle of the pack.
The lightweight shoes are, unsurprisingly, premium shoes that carry a larger asking price. The Editor's Choice Scott Road RC SL come in at just 18.4 ounces in men's 44, using a super light HMX carbon outsole and a Carbitex upper. Just behind them are the LG Course Air Lite IIs, at 18.7 ounces, helping to secure its spot as the Best Bang for the Buck Award winner, delivering excellent premium quality at a bargain price.
One of the more affordable lightweight shoes in our lineup is the Giro Empire ACC, which uses an Easton EC90 ACC carbon fiber sole and synthetic Evofiber microfiber for its upper to create such a feathery shoe. At 18.8 ounces in a men's 44, it should make the list of any rider looking for a unique style and bare minimum weight. Just behind is the S-Phyre, weighing 19 ounces in a men's 45, topping this measure with its judicious use of carbon in the sole and a minimalist single-cut Teijin Avail microfiber. They also removed the lasting board from the midsole, which reduces both height and weight.
For those extremely concerned about weight, we suggest looking at the Louis Garneau Course Air Lite IIs, though they carry a heftier price tag. If money is no object, we recommend looking at the premium S-Phyres, though the right size for you might run a little higher.
The saddle maker does a great job of economically delivering a stiff, stable ride, so you aren't breaking the bank trying to get a shoe with decent transfer. They use a nylon composite to build out most of their outsole, which provides a fair amount of rigidity and support, but further, gird it with carbon to add noticeable strength and rigidity. It's true that they don't have the transfer of the pro-grade Sidi Wire Vent Carbon, but they are a few tiers higher, use a full carbon sole, and are well out of the Fi'zi:ks price range.
However, something both shoes have in common, along with the other premium racing shoe, the Shimano S-Phyre, is their remarkable foot control. All three models have high, narrow openings and heel collars that secure the heel above the Achilles' tendon, which significantly reduces the shifting and jostling of the foot, ensuring that energy is instead directed into the pedals (and you should be working on your form to ensure you're not wasting energy elsewhere).
The Sidis and Scotts dominated this measure, hitting a rare perfect score. The Sidis combine a full carbon sole and extremely close-fitting Microfibra Techpro synthetic leather upper with a unique rigidity to make a tight, fast, shoe that directs energy wherever you're applying the force. The Scotts use a proprietary HMX carbon sole and a stiff Carbitex upper to direct all effort directly into the pedals. If you want the power transfer of a hammer, you need to consider these, but remember, pro shoes go for pro rates.
Next down the line, unsurprisingly, are the Shimano S-Phyre, which also feature an incredibly lightweight, rigid carbon sole and a nice, snug upper that captures and redirects power input. But, as with the previous model, they are a premium shoe that will require a good deal more investment, but less so than the Sidis. The Mavic Cosmic Ultimate II also have excellent power transfer. They use not just a full carbon SLR sole, but also a carbon upper frame for an ultra-stiff ride. However, because their upper is so stiff, it prevents the upper from tightening around the foot the way the Fi'zi:k and Shimano do; this creates dead space inside a relatively rigid upper, making it both wasteful and slightly uncomfortable.
These shoes do have some give when you crank, but it's not severe. You notice it on the longer rides and when you're trying hard to put out the power, but they are still exceptionally solid shoes that will serve any novice or seasoned rider looking to save the cash without sacrificing too much on performance. But if you have some cash are you're looking for a serious shoe, we suggest going with the LG Course Air Lite IIs. They are more comfortable, less costly, and are a high-performance energy-transferring model. If you want to go to the top shelf, you can't go wrong with the premium Sidis or Scotts.
These kicks use the right mix of advanced and utilitarian fastening mechanisms on their well-designed upper to come up with an easy-to-use, malleable upper. It allows the rider to get into the shoe without much hassle and to lock it down simply with a single, 4-anchor, dual-direction Boa dial, and sailcloth velcro toe strap. This makes it easy to adjust the shoe while riding without interrupting the stroke too much - or at all if you're skilled enough. It might not seem like the biggest deal, especially if you're getting superior performance, but the pop-out release feature is really welcome at the end of a ride when the first thing you want to do is shower, eat, and lie down (you should really stretch before you eat and lie down, but that might not be a want).
As good as these are, the Sidis topped them with their two Tecno 3 Puck Buckles. The buckles aren't quite as simple or easy to adjust on the fly, but they allow you to micro-adjust, particularly at the toe, where the hold doesn't loosen after riding as might happen with a toe strap. Furthermore, their adjustable heel retention system is relatively rare in the industry and the only such system in our lineup, which helps buoy it to the top of the measure.
Right alongside is the S-Phyre, which use two dial fasteners and a cable system with a second anchor over the toe. We think the average rider would be happy with the Fi'zi:ks, but more advanced riders looking for top-of-the-line adjustability should consider the Sidis.
They use a strong Microtex microfiber upper for a long-lasting, tough shoe that can take a beating without adding too much weight. Their sleek design helps to reduce the likelihood of snags or developing tears, with very little exposed stitching or other structures that carry a liability. Their carbon reinforced composite sole offers a mix of strength and rigidity but might wear down more quickly than some of the carbon soles.
As great as these are, there are a few other models in the lineup that offer a little more in their design and materials. The Sidis top our measure, packing a solid carbon outsole, more replaceable parts, and a sturdy reinforced Lorica upper with quite a bit of low-profile double stitching. The Scotts also occupy a top spot in this measure, using long-lasting carbon materials while minimizing seams and weak spots. The Lake CX237 use a full carbon sole and a full grain leather upper, which is considered to be a durable, premium leather, so you're getting real quality here. Alongside it is the Mavic Cosmic Ultimate II, which uses the Energy Full Carbon SLR sole and a unique, robust carbon upper.
We think most riders will be pleased with the Fi'zi:ks, but if a shoe that will turn up in an inheritance is the goal, take a look at the Sidis. If you're set on a carbon fiber sole and need a little more longevity, try the Scotts or Mavics, though the Lakes have a bit of a comfort advantage.
These can be converted to mountain/commuter or Speedplay with an adapter plate, but they are most suited to long-distance road riding. It is also notable that these kicks are the most walkable in the bunch - more walkable even than mountain bike shoes.
They were competitive, even vying with the Shimanos, but they just didn't have the very top level performance at a discount. As such, we think they are every penny worth their price, please all but the top riders who won't settle for anything less than high-performance carbon and high function components.
The R5B Uomo Boas give one of the highest performances in our lineup at a really accessible price to the average rider. The saddle maker made sure that everyone gets a ride in these. We think these are even good enough for racing, though once a rider becomes advanced enough, there might be a reasonable shift to higher market shoes. Here's the best way to put it: if you're a cat. 5 rider and aren't going to cat up by next season, you will be served well by these shoes. We gave these the Best Budget Buy Award because they are great shoes that beat out entry level shoes, but they're still low cost. Those who are looking for a premium shoe at a good price might be interested in the Best Bang for the Buck winning Louis Garneau Course Air Lite IIs.
— Ryan Baham