Fizik Tempo Overcurve R4 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, stiff, affordable, simple
Cons: Limited comfort, one fastener, mid-range power transfer
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Fizik Tempo Overcurve R4
|Price||Check Price at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$250.00 at REI
Check Price at Backcountry
|$93.75 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$149.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Lightweight, stiff, affordable, simple||TPU outsole provides traction and protection, tight heel, stylish, comfortable upper||Stiff, large toe box, uses two-way BOA dial||Affordable, snug, lightweight||Solid comfort, durable, great for walking, stylish|
|Cons||Limited comfort, one fastener, mid-range power transfer||Laces are long, tongue and collar might dig, can be warm in the summer||Less comfortable, limited adjustability, upper can create hotspots||Fit's not universal, can be warm, lower power transfer||Premium price, can be too snug, toes hard to adjust, limited breathability|
|Bottom Line||Sturdy and simple, this is the right shoe for serious road riders on a budget||A stylish retro shoe with laces and a serious carbon sole to look good and perform better||If you’re looking for an affordable carbon sole and don’t mind sacrificing comfort, these are for you||An entry-level road shoe with a few finer features to get you over the hills||Nice bike shoes with a lot of versatility for commuting, spinning, and even a little offroading if you don’t mind getting these pretty things dirty|
|Rating Categories||Fizik Tempo Overcur...||Rapha Classic||Specialized Torch 2.0||Shimano RC3||Giro Republic R Knit|
|Power Transfer (25%)|
|Specs||Fizik Tempo Overcur...||Rapha Classic||Specialized Torch 2.0||Shimano RC3||Giro Republic R Knit|
|Measured Weight (Pair)||20.8 oz||22.8 oz||21.4 oz||19.4 oz||26.7 oz|
|Outsole||Carbon reinforced nylon||Sole footplate: carbon fiber; outsole cover: thermoplastic polyurethane||Carbon, rubber||Fiberglass reinforced Nylon||Co-molded nylon and rubber|
|Upper Material||PU laminate, mesh||Microfiber||Mesh, TPU||Synthetic leather||Xnetic Knit|
|Closure||BOA and hook and loop strap||Laces and hook loop velcro strap||Boa IP1 Fit System||Boa L6 dial||Lace|
|Width Options||Regular||Regular||Regular, Wide||Regular||Regular|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We spent a lot of time out on the road in the Fizik Tempo Overcurve R4. In general, this is a great bike shoe for the average rider looking to put in some work but maybe not trying to go for gold or put time into GC rivals. In our riding and research, we broke them down across our performance measures to get a better picture of where they excel and where they might come up a little short.
The Overcurve isn't a luxury or premium road bike shoe, and that comes through in this measure. It uses only a small bit of perfunctory padding around the heel collar to prevent discomfort and limit heel slippage (there's also a little grippy strip to help in this). It's as comfortable as it needs to be. So you might get a little rubbing and hotspots here and there, but it's not an explicitly uncomfortable road shoe.
The polyurethane-laminated mesh upper can be a bit stiff, and you might feel it crunch around your toes from time to time if you're doing a lot of standing and mashing, but otherwise, it's not a serious problem. The area that Fizik should address here is the tongue to ankle touch spot. There can be some serious grinding against the extensor tendons as you flex and crank up hills, especially when you lock down the fastener. We found that moving the inside edge of the tongue out onto the actual upper instead of your foot was a good way to relieve that pressure, but it's not how the shoe was designed, of course. It's not a deal-breaker, but it's something that annoyed us with all of our climbing for sure.
Otherwise, as is usually the case with Fizik's road bike shoes, the design is smart, efficient, and ergonomic. The molded footbed makes for a great fit as soon as you put your foot inside, maintaining comfort even on the super long rides. A big win for this model is its asymmetrical shape, which is where the Overcurve name comes from. The design is meant to better trace the shape and movement of the foot. The collar is staggered, wrapping around the ankle, conforming to the medial and lateral malleoli, which are the outer parts of the ankle that we knick on corners, pedals, and chainrings (another reason to wear long socks on the bike). The resulting Overcurve shape seems to do a better job of working with the foot and ankle than a lot of standard designs, and it's why we were confident in giving it our Best Bang for the Buck Award.
The R4 isn't going to be the lightest shoe around, but at just 20.8 ounces in a pair of Men's size 45 (Euro sizing), they're actually pretty feathery considering they're only mid-market road shoes. The upper, made from polyurethane-laminated mesh, is lean, stiff, and supportive with minimal padding, so it doesn't add much to the scale.
The sole is responsible for a lot of the difference in weight between these and the premium shoes, given that the upper is so stripped-down. The outsole is mostly nylon but uses a 15% injection of carbon fiber. This reduces weight while improving strength and rigidity. When it comes to weight, we think it's a good middle ground between price and performance.
These aren't pro racing shoes, so you're just not going to get the impossible stiffness you get with the fancy full-carbon soles and premium uppers festooned with knobs and fasteners. But for a midline road shoe, it'll do just fine.
The sole is a nylon composite with 15% carbon fiber injection. This mix of material has been on the rise in recent years because it preserves the durability of nylon while introducing the strength of carbon fiber (and somewhat reduces carbon fiber's brittle qualities). In practical terms, most cyclists just want the stiffness and power transfer, so you get more of that with the 15% mix than you would with a standard nylon sole, but there's still a lot more flex than you'd get with most high-end models. Still, part of our reason for giving them our Best Bang for the Buck Award is because the sole is stiffer than most others in its range and below. You're still getting a sturdy road shoe for about half the price of a pro-level shoe.
A final note here is about the cleat position. Recent thinking has trended toward moving cleats closer to the middle of the foot, with studies pointing to better power transfer from the midfoot. To that end, Fizik has moved the cleat platform back a bit further, citing improved efficiency, particularly for aggressive forward or aero riding. Our only complaint in this is that, depending on the geometry of your bike and crank length, it can cause the toe of your shoe to make hard contact with your front tire on hard turns, which is super exciting when it's a surprise discovery at any kind of speed.
The Overcurve's upper design improves the fit and reduces the need to fiddle around looking for the right fit, but it's not perfect. It uses a single BOA IP1 dial. It's a two-way micro-adjust dial, so it's really easy to use out on the road. It's not as sleek or elegant as the higher-end BOA dials coming out on the premium shoes. Still, it has a nearly identical function (just not the finesse), meaning it's really easy to get the right pressure on your feet and quickly adjust as needed when you're out on the road.
The use of a single dial also means there are some limitations on the fit for different parts of the foot - the toes, specifically. The toe box is designed to have a little more room, which is something we prefer, but that's a matter of personal preference. Most shoes, even at the low end, will include another fastener for the toes, even if it's just a toe strap. The R4 uses a single wire to link the whole upper together across its six anchors, so the whole upper adjusts as a single system, meaning you aren't able to target just the toes. This isn't a design we tend to love, but Fizik does a good job here. We'd still prefer multiple fasteners, but it functions just fine and keeps the price lower, which we also appreciate.
The tough PU mesh upper will endure a good deal of scraping and scuffing, though we'd prefer that some of the high-wear areas had a little extra protection. Being that these are the spots we all use to contact the outside world and especially to right-set pedals to clip in, it'd be nice to have a little more protection there.
There's a little buttressing that we expect to extend the life of the shoe, though. The heel pad and tip of the toe use a rough abrasion pad, and the upper has a harder structure to protect the toe, but not the actual upper. It'd be nice if the heel pad were replaceable, but it should still last a good long while. We expect the shoe to last a lot of good riding seasons.
We gave the Tempo Overcurve R4 our Best Bang for the Buck Award because we felt pretty strongly that they have a lot of value and come in at a reasonable price. Most riders should get what they need out of them.
The Fizik Tempo Overcurve R4 is everything the utilitarian cyclist needs in a pair of road bike shoes. The tough PU laminated mesh delivers the right amount of protection and power transfer with just enough padding inside to limit discomfort, but no more. That is, you're not going to get pillows cushioning your feet, but you'll be fine on most rides - it gets the job done. The sole isn't the hardest thing on the planet, and you get some flex, especially standing up on a climb or out of a red light, but you get better transfer and support than most other bike shoes in the price tier. Plus, you get a two-way BOA dial with a pretty decent closure design. Again, not perfect, but it still ends up functioning better than most of the designs in the mid-range, which usually have non-compliant uppers and toe straps that are hard to fit your foot. The Fiziks use an overall superior design to deliver a good shoe for the average rider.
— Ryan Baham
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