After years and years of using overshoes, destroying at least a couple of pairs every winter and never finding a pair that offered anything close to complete coverage in harsh conditions I switched over to dedicated winter shoes and I’ve never looked back.
Last winter Shimano’s RW5s became a firm favourite when the weather turned nasty. For 2018 Italian brand Fizik is, erm, dipping its toe into the winter shoe arena with the Artica R5. I’m deep into our Bike of the year testing, and it’s January, and I reckon they’ve got things pretty well sorted for their first attempt.
Underneath the stretchy rubber like outer skin, which seals thanks to a storm zip and Velcro-lined ankle closure you’ll find a shoe based loosely on the standard R5 shoe. The sole is carbon reinforced nylon with no vents or holes to allow water in, which is good.
The upper has the same offset opening as the R5 but instead of straps or dials it uses a laced cord with a sliding stopper for tensioning, it’s a little fiddly, but once you get used to it, its just as adjustable as a standard shoe.
It has to be said that the Artica’s sizing is a little more generous than standard Fizik shoes (to take into account you’ll be wearing thicker socks) so it’s worth opting for half a size bigger. The storm zip closure is a bit stiff for the first few times you use it and takes a bit of effort where it transitions from the shoe shape to the ankle. With repeated use, though, it has become easier.
I’ve used these on seriously cold and wet rides and have been impressed. It’s worth remembering that, like pretty much every winter boot we’ve tested, these aren’t impervious to water – rain will always run down off your legs and into the boot no matter how close fitting the ankle. (The trick is to wear your bib tights – zipped cuffs are better for this – over the ankle closures so that the majority of the water will run onto the outside of the boot.)
I love the Artica R5’s insoles – the heat reflecting foil bottom is a nod to survival gear but its still a neat idea, and the top side is covered in a soft fleecy almost Roubaix like fabric which makes these super comfortable, warm and snug. I wish Fizik offered these insoles aftermarket on their own as I’d be putting them is plenty of my other shoes too!
The 433g weight per boot isn’t that heavy for the level of protection they give and the sole is stiff enough, though not race-shoe rigid so you can still wiggle your feet a bit. At £190 they’re a premium boot but I’m loving the R5s as they offer protection that’s up with the Shimanos and for winter protection they look pretty cool with it!