Fizik R1 Infinito Review
Cons: Pricey, sole scuffs, may be narrow for some feet
Our Analysis and Test Results
When we test cycling shoes, we do our best to ride them into the ground as quickly as possible, putting them through as much abuse and as many conditions as we can. For these, we put in hundreds of miles in the heat, cold, flats, mountains, crit-training, long, slow rides, and work commutes. We also spent hours researching each pair to make sure we gathered as much information as we could for this review. We go into detail about the specific design attributes that make the Infinito R1 such an awesome shoe, but the short answer is that they have exceptional power transfer while maintaining comfort and flawless fit. It's also a pretty great-looking shoe, so far as cyclists' endogenous fashion sense goes.
What good would a cycling shoe review be if we didn't put it in the context of other competing bike shoes and break them all down across a handful of performance measures? Well, we've done exactly that, and the remainder of this review will detail our findings from testing, research, and analysis.
When it comes to comfort, the Fizik Infinito R1 uses superior design to earn its spot near the front of the pack. To get it there, Fizik uses a combination of fine fabric, ergonomic fastening, internal support, and a form-fitting design.
Many of the best cycling shoes, like some of the best running shoes, will use a thicker inner lining or padding to force its comfort, but Fizik produced one of the best road bike shoes by working on improving the overall fit. It fits something like a second skin, which means it requires less padding and improves performance.
The lining it has is pretty minimal, but it does its job of adding a functional layer of cushion and softness to reduce friction and cushion just enough. There's also a mesh footbed insole that allows better ventilation and seems to reduce the hotspots that can develop under the forefoot.
The Infinito Closure System uses two BOA IP1-B dials that allow two-way micro-adjustment. The dials control steel-coated nylon wires or laces along the forefoot and toes of the upper in a unique infinite configuration that improves fit compared to standard cycling shoes. The material is pulled over the foot in this scenario is a firm 1.2-millimeter Laser Perforated Microtex upper with very little stitching. Its firmness translates into superior energy transfer, but its cut and closure system helps it fit like a glove, so the stiffness doesn't cause undue friction or discomfort.
The cool thing about the dials and the design of the R1 is that the lower dial controls the volume of the upper, and the upper dial controls the fit and supportive feel using the Dynamic Arch Support structure. This comes in handy when you're approaching a long climb and you're ready to stand and hit it hard.
The R1s come in at 20.0 ounces for a pair of Men's size 44 (Euro sizing), which makes them one of the lighter models out there. They aren't the featheriest on the market, but they're light enough that it makes a difference. The tradeoff here is that the heavier design allows better energy transfer and comfort.
Two major areas save this road shoe weight and put it up near the top of the pack. The first area that helps the Infinito save on weight is the Microtex upper. It's just 1.2-millimeter thick and uses Laser Perforated ventilation to improve airflow. The upper also uses only modest padding, which both saves on weight and keeps the shoe cool in hot weather and dry in wet weather. That's one of the big advantages of having a second-skin upper design; there's comfort in the fit without having to throw in all sorts of padding and cushion.
The second is the Uni Direction carbon outsole. We go into a little more detail under the Power Transfer section below, but briefly, fibers are laid in the same direction, which makes the end material extremely resistant to forces applied against those directions. This process allows manufacturers to use considerably less material and therefore save a good deal of weight.
This is an area where the R1s stood out, as they're really stiff and have great power transfer. It feels like everything you're putting out makes it down into the pedals. If you're newer to the sport, these might even be a little too stiff for you, but if you're after that pro-level performance, you'll find that here.
What makes this one of the best cycling shoes is that it doesn't sacrifice comfort to get it up near the top. A lot of times, the stiffest shoes end up creating hotspots and squeeze your feet to death. This shoe uses its ergonomic microtex upper design and Infinito Closure system to better envelop and shape to your foot.
What sets the R1 apart from the competition is the Uni Direction Full Carbon Outsole. As the name implies, the fiber is laid in a single direction instead of the common latticed design. This makes it extremely strong when forces are applied against those directions, but is less strong against forces from other directions. If that sounds a little scary in your bike shoes, don't worry, this process is used for everything from rockets to race cars and all sorts of interesting applications in between. If you're still interested in how unidirectional carbon fiber works, you can read more at the Fibre Glast Learning Center.
When it comes to adjustment, it's hard to go wrong with two micro-adjustable double BOA IP1-B dials, which is what Fizik uses for its Infinito Closure System. The dials allow for bi-directional tightening and loosening, 1 millimeter per click, so you can lock in the perfect fit to suit your ride. Each dial also has a convenient quick-release that works by just popping it out, and it completely loosens so you can take the shoe off without also removing your epidermis.
This makes it a lot easier to reach down and tighten up ahead of a big sprint or climb, and then you can either micro-loosen or pop the dial to release and quickly dial it back to a normal tightness. That's the best way to get a good, natural fit after you get rolling.
The Infinito does a better job of designing the cut and closure system than most cycling shoes. They're some of the only road bike shoes that truly master the dial and upper design. The best example of another model with a similar design that also dominates the market is the Shimano SH-RC9 S-Phyre, which uses side-mounted bi-directional BOA dials and a fold-over burrito cut.
The cool thing about their setup is that the lower dial controls the overall volume of the upper, so it's not a situation where you squeeze off circulation, and your toes ache when you try to tighten the shoe. It's a full-foot hug. The upper dial, meanwhile, provides a secure fit that works in hand with the Dynamic Arch Support structure to improve fit, energy transfer, and comfort. The only area where they could improve is by adding something to the heel cup to allow a little more finesse in how the shoe grasps the foot.
For the most part, the Infinito R1 is a tough shoe; you can expect it to take a lot of abuse and still be rolling in a few years without much issue. The R1 is made of premium materials and the design minimizes the areas that can break down and buffer the areas that need fortification. Its use of replaceable parts is another aspect that sets it apart, moving it to the top of the ranks.
There's good reason for such a high ranking. Its 1.2-millimeter Laser Perforated Microtex upper is strong enough to take a good deal of abuse without tearing or being pierced. The cut also minimizes seams and stitching, so there are fewer areas spots vulnerable to catastrophic deterioration. The only limitation is that the material can scuff, and the tip of the toe has can wear down. More on that later.
The outsole is well protected. The Uni Direction Full Carbon Outsole is constructed so that it's stronger against the forces to which it's typically subjected (lateral forces). That should result in generally improved durability, though it also means that if some intense pressure is applied from another direction, there could be a problem - theoretically, anyway.
Another aspect that we really like about them is that their high-wear areas have some replaceability. The BOA IP1 dials can be replaced, which is a huge deal. A lot of other road bike shoes have fasteners that can't be replaced; for example, if you have a bit of a crash, and your foot gets dragged across something and comes back up with more blood and less buckle attached than it had just a moment ago. There's no consolation prize for a crash quite like needing to replace an entire pair of road shoes because of a missing fastener.
The heel pad is also replaceable. That's a huge relief, especially to urban riders (lots of stoplights), walkers, and cafe riders. And to show their added attention to detail, they use a hex bolt instead of the usual Phillips head, so there's less chance it'll be stripped out, and it'll still be reachable, even if you've worn the hell out of the pad and eaten some of the fastener (bolt) off. It can be challenging to get a bite on an old Phillips head that's been ground down over 18 or 24 months.
The only real complaint we had was that the toe is missing a replaceable pad. This is an area that sees a lot of abuse since you tend to use your toe to push off from stops and maybe to fiddle with your pedal when you're trying to clip in. The best you can do is a toe cover, but that's really for cold or wet weather. There are bumpers, but they're not too prominent, so there will be unavoidable and progressive damage to the carbon and microtex as time goes on. Still, if you're careful, you shouldn't have to worry too much.
So far as high-end road bike shoes go, these are up there, but at a discount compared to some of the full carbon models. If you're in the premium market, these are a solid deal. You get a light cycling shoe with the stiffness and comfort of a much heavier shoe. Plus, it's a good-looking shoe that will stand out in the peloton — if you're the exhibitionist type.
We put in hundreds of miles in the Infinito R1 and came to understand why they're so prominent in the pro peloton. They obviously look awesome, but they kick out the top-end performance too, which is why they earned our Editors' Choice Award. They consistently dominated across performance measures, so there was no sacrifice or tradeoff of one excellent quality for another. Most notably, they were able to deliver exceptional power transfer and stiffness without making the shoe inhospitable to the foot.
They're not the lightest cycling shoes out there, but they're still reasonably light. They might even feel a little too stiff for some riders, but that's the pro trade-off you make when you choose to wear high-flyers like these. If you're the type of rider to go for more comfort in exchange for lower technical performance, you might want to look around a little more — and just to reiterate: these are still really comfortable shoes, but they might lack some of the padding and give that other cycling shoes provide. After weeks of hard miles in these, we're confident that they're at the top of the market for good reason and we suspect most serious riders will be as pleased with them as we were.
— Ryan Baham
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