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Fizik Terra Artica GTX
When temperatures begin to dip — then fall off a cliff to below freezing — the last thing you want to wear is your super lightweight summer shoes. Those are a lifesaver in warm months, but even with shoe covers they won’t stand up to the worst windy, rainy, and cold conditions of winter. For riders who absolutely have to stay on the bike year round, and don’t even have the word trainer in their vocabulary, Fizik has created the Terra Artica GTX.
This off-road boot is fleece lined inside for insulation and comfort, and contains a waterproof GORE-TEX membrane to keep the elements out. And despite the weatherproofing, it stays breathable. Fizik secures the shoe with a single Boa dial and a large velcro strap across the ankle that’s operable with bulky winter gloves. The Italian brand finishes the boot off with an X5 nylon and rubber outsole for traction, but if you prefer to stick to paved roads in the winter, Fizik also makes a similar road boot, the Tempo Artica GTX, featuring a road sole drilled for road cleats.
$260; 2 colors; 452g per shoe; fizik.com
Scott Gravel Pro
Not too long ago (three years to be exact) I admittedly scoffed at the idea of gravel shoes — just choose mountain shoes and be done with it. I’ve come around. While mountain shoes still excel here, gravel is its own discipline with its own needs, and plenty deserving of its own specialized equipment to fill those needs. Scott has a new gravel specific shoe, the Gravel Pro, that meets the needs of gravel riders without asking too much of their wallets.
With the Gravel Pro, Scott created a rugged shoe with a streamlined road-shoe look. The Sticki Rubber sole provides grip for any creek crossings or extended hike-a-bike sectors, while the 3D airmesh upper keeps your feet cool on sweltering gravel grinders. The 340-gram shoe is then secured by a single Boa dial, all in a package costing $159. Scott keeps the price pretty accessible for a product category that frequently pushes past $400 at the top end.
$159; 2 colors; 340g (size 8.5); women’s version available; scott-sports.com
Pearl Izumi Pro Air
Pearl Izumi’s Pro line of shoes has gotten a refresh, including the super lightweight Pro Air model. This top of the line shoe has changed from top to bottom to deliver more comfort while tipping the scales at a mere 237 grams for a size 42. As a road shoe, power delivery is paramount for the Pro Air, so Pearl Izumi has included a 1:1 PRO Air Power Plate designed with help from Ruckus Composites. From there, the upper is a highly breathable mesh laminate material placed in zones to reinforce high stress areas. So even though the Pro Air is light, it doesn’t ignore durability to get there. Pearl Izumi has even added in a dual-density 1:1 footbed for better arch support. Finally, the entire shoe is secured with two Boa Li2 dials with with soft lace guides that reduce hotspots — essential when dealing with a featherweight shoe.
$425; 237g (size 42); 1 color; pearlizumi.com
Shimano had already been in the gravel race shoe category with the RX8. Now the Japanese brand has given it a big update, making the shoe even more breathable while upping the ante on outsole stiffness. At the same time, Shimano also placed a big emphasis on the fit of the shoe. Built-in heel stabilizers keep the foot in place for greater control over the pedal stroke. A Surround Wrapping Upper hugs the foot for a close fit, while a rubberized Boa Li2 dial allows micro-adjustments on the fly preventing the upper from getting too constrictive over the course of a long ride.
Speaking of fit, Shimano is making this shoe in half sizes, which means even better fitting and more comfortable shoes for more riders than before. But the most important thing to comfort is often ensuring nothing gets in your shoe. For $25 more, the RX8R version includes a knit ankle cuff that prevents rocks, sand, and other debris from entering your shoe and forcing a mid-ride stop for an adjustment. But if you do ever have to stop, it’s a good time to admire the tropical leaves colorway option.
$275 (RX8); 268g (size 42); 3 colors; wide sizes available; bike.shimano.com