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Fizik Tempo Overcurve R4 Review

Sturdy and simple, this is the right shoe for serious road riders on a budget
Fizik Tempo Overcurve R4
Photo: Fizik
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $200 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, stiff, affordable, simple
Cons:  Limited comfort, one fastener, mid-range power transfer
Manufacturer:   Fizik
By Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 22, 2021
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Power Transfer - 25% 6
  • Adjustability - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 6

Our Verdict

Fizik has consistently put out some of the best road bike shoes we've tested, especially in the mid-range. The Tempo Overcurve R4 is no exception, which is why it picked up our Best Bang for the Buck Award. It uses a tough, lean, no-frills upper for both protection and power transfer with a carbon-injected nylon sole to keep the cost down while improving performance over different types of composite soles. And it brings it all together with a single, simple two-way BOA dial. It's not the perfect shoe, but it's the right shoe for riders after a bargain.

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Pros Lightweight, stiff, affordable, simpleTPU outsole provides traction and protection, tight heel, stylish, comfortable upperStiff, large toe box, uses two-way BOA dialAffordable, snug, lightweightSolid comfort, durable, great for walking, stylish
Cons Limited comfort, one fastener, mid-range power transferLaces are long, tongue and collar might dig, can be warm in the summerLess comfortable, limited adjustability, upper can create hotspotsFit's not universal, can be warm, lower power transferPremium 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 budgetA stylish retro shoe with laces and a serious carbon sole to look good and perform betterIf you’re looking for an affordable carbon sole and don’t mind sacrificing comfort, these are for youAn entry-level road shoe with a few finer features to get you over the hillsNice 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
Comfort (25%)
7.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
8.0
Weight (15%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
4.0
Power Transfer (25%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
Adjustability (20%)
7.0
4.0
5.0
4.0
4.0
Durability (15%)
6.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
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
Size Tested 45 45 45 45 45
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.

Performance Comparison


The Overcurve R4 isn't a perfect shoe, but it's a workhorse and a...
The Overcurve R4 isn't a perfect shoe, but it's a workhorse and a bargain.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Comfort


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.

This edge can definitely cause uncomfortable rubbing if it doesn't...
This edge can definitely cause uncomfortable rubbing if it doesn't sit correctly.
Photo: Ryan Baham

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 collar, heel cup, and asymmetrical lines improve the ergonomics...
The collar, heel cup, and asymmetrical lines improve the ergonomics so your foot and shoe work together better than you might find in most mid-level standard shoes.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Weight


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.

At just 20.8 ounces for a pair of these babies in men's 45, they're...
At just 20.8 ounces for a pair of these babies in men's 45, they're on the lighter side.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Power Transfer


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.

Beautiful nylon composite with 15% carbon fiber. Okay, maybe it's...
Beautiful nylon composite with 15% carbon fiber. Okay, maybe it's not visually stunning, but think of the cost savings.
Photo: Ryan Baham

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.

Some of you with similar bike setups might find that this shoe's...
Some of you with similar bike setups might find that this shoe's aft-leaning cleatbed causes your shoe to now make contact with the tire on turns.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Adjustability


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.

A lot with a little. It's something we love about Fizik. One dial to...
A lot with a little. It's something we love about Fizik. One dial to rule them all, more or less.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Durability


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 fully expect to be able to beat these shoes up for a while before...
We fully expect to be able to beat these shoes up for a while before they need replacing.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Value


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.

We think the Overcurves are a good deal. For their price, they kick...
We think the Overcurves are a good deal. For their price, they kick out a lot of performance.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Conclusion


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