Charlie BellEx-Army now London based with a love for the outdoors, you can usually find Charlie training for or competing in events which don’t involve much sleep and go on for excessively long periods of time. Most recently, the Atlas Mountain Race.
A comfortable, versatile and robust mountain bike shoe, performing equally well off the bike tackling those challenging hike-a-bike sections, as on the bike.
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X2 outsole, nylon shank, EVA midsole and Vibram tread, ripstop fabric, Ergolace closure for anatomical fit
Comfort during challenging hike-a-bike sections
Comfortable lace up closure system
Minimalist and lightweight design
Quick dry Ripstop fabric for adverse weather conditions and cool in warm conditions
On bike power transfer
Any laces can be challenging during multi day endurance events when hand dexterity can be impacted
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR
I’m looking for a shoe which is highly versatile for multi-day bikepacking races and trips. A shoe which is comfortable in any environment from cold and wet (snow!?) to hot, dry, arid conditions – and everything in between! The main challenge I am looking to overcome is comfort off the bike during technical, rocky hike-a-bike sections, whilst not detracting too much from stiffness and speed on the bike.
Whilst comfort over long periods of time is most important, having a shoe which is versatile enough that it can also be used on faster and less technical one day outings would be a bonus.
On initial inspection, these do look like hiking trail shoes, yet they’re lightweight and flexible unlike many other chunkier options on the market. They do blend in pretty well as everyday outdoor shoes and are a far cry from anything resembling a race shoe, although increasingly, top-performing bikepacking racers are predominantly using shoes which have more of a ‘comfort’ look than ‘racer’ vibe.
They do blend in pretty well as everyday outdoor shoes and are a far cry from anything resembling a race shoe
The main test took place on a two-day, one night excursion around Katherine Moore’s Lakeland 300 route on komoot. This is a 300km loop with what the route claims is only 6,400 metres of elevation, however, having completed it, two devices recorded in excess of 8,500 metres. In other words, it isn’t flat. A large proportion of these uphills require significant amounts of hike a bike and even elements of the flat and downhill sections do too. There had been a huge amount of rainfall on the days preceding, meaning lots of ground water. Temperatures ranged from 9 up to about 22 degrees Celsius. The fastest known time is just under 22 hours and whilst I was by no means racing it, I completed it over the course of about 35 hours, including a decent 6-hour bivy bag sleep, so I was moving with purpose. In short, a tough route which was exactly what these needed for these shoes to be properly put through their paces.
The test also involved some slightly more leisurely kilometres in the French Alps!
WHO ARE THESE SHOES FOR?
These shoes are designed for the mountain bike bikepacker or tourer who will be spending time in them both on and off the bike; either because they are travelling light and won’t have a spare pair to wander around town in after a hard day in the saddle, or because the route they are peddling requires one to dismount and walk and/or push the bike across arduous terrain. These shoes would suit those competing in bikepacking races where comfort and ease of walking takes priority over stiffness and speed.
WHAT STANDS OUT?
DESIGN AND COMFORT
Whilst laces can be a real concern during longer races in cold conditions – osing sensation in your hands can lead to struggles with fiddly laces – the Ergolace pattern is exceptionally comfortable, and as Fizik puts it, ‘cradles’ the foot very effectively. There was very little movement or rubbing in the shoe even when pushing the bike up steep inclines. There is also a small ‘Lace Keeper’ which securely holds the excess lace in place. I also had no issues in terms of having to re-tie or re-adjust the lace and the shoe felt very comfortable throughout a tough ride.
The Ripstop fabric seemed to hold up well against water. There were plenty of small streams that had formed on the trails of the Lakes and before the shoes were fully submerged and water infiltrated over the top of the shoe, my foot remained dry. Once they were fully submerged, the fabric does allow them to drain and dry relatively quickly which is always welcome on any multi-day trips. Whilst they were not tested in any extreme heat conditions, they certainly felt breathable and lightweight enough to handle higher temperatures.
LIGHTWEIGHT AND MINIMILIST
These are designed to deal with all that can be thrown at you whilst out adventuring on your mountain bike. Whilst some shoes catering to this audience can sometimes feel a bit heavy and clunky, these feel lightweight and nimble, but enough protection is offered by the PU laminated toe cap that your foot doesn’t feel vulnerable when you clumsily kick a rock whilst pushing your steed uphill.
FLEXIBILITY VS STIFFNESS
For the riding I intend to do with a shoe of this type, I would favour comfort and flexibility for walking over stiffness for power transfer. Fizik gives these a stiffness rating of 3 (out of 10) which means a lot of flexibility. There were times, mainly during the shorter rides I did, where I could really feel the flex, particularly if I stood up out of the saddle to put some power down on a short, sharp incline. If you are looking for a mountain biking shoe for short, even one-day events where you aren’t required to dismount, these are probably not for you. They tick the box for comfort and for long races or events where you are rarely really putting the hammer down. However, there is a small sacrifice to make as far as power transfer goes.
VALUE FOR MONEY
At full price (£134.99), the Terra Ergolace X2’s are by no means a cheap option. However, if you are willing to part with that amount, I would suggest you won’t be disappointed with the quality and comfort. They’re also currently on sale at £107.99, move fast if you’re in the market for a bargain!
BASE BOTTOM LINE
The Fizik Terra Ergolace X2 would be my shoe of choice for any off-road bikepacking adventure or race which requires a substantial amount of hike-a-bike and goes on for longer than one day. Comfortable on and off the bike despite this meaning a small sacrifice in power transfer, but if you are riding in a manner whereby you aren’t exerting explosive power (such as on a long, multi day race/ride), then this isn’t something you would notice too much. For those only interested in riding for a few hours at a time and not having to hike at all, this is probably not for you. The shoe held up in the wet and dried and drained quickly after being fully submerged. The Ergolace is very comfortable and pulls the shoe snug around the foot.
These shoes come highly recommended and will be the weapon of choice for my next bikepacking race. My only small hesitation would be looking for an option which doesn’t require the fiddling of laces, particularly after a few days of racing when one can lose dexterity in the hands.