The ladies R3 is Fizik’s top model for La Donna. As the number suggests, it seems the ladies model isn’t to be taken seriously compared to the Men’s top model, R1. This may be an unfortunate observation, but we are assured that the shoe is designed to not just look striking, but work equally as hard for elite women’s racing.
Before the play, there is the unfolding. Fizik are becoming an accepted part of cycling footwear. Go to most respected retailers and there will be a selection of shoes by the Italian company to choose from. Is this a show of popularity, or simply a result of brand power, established by Fizik’s dominance in the realm of cycling saddles?
This isn’t just a box with shoes in it. Make the time to let nothing distract you from your unpacking your Fizik’s
Special attention to luxury and Italian flair has been long in the making. Which should guarantee that your shoes will match anything from your classic steel beauty to your carbon beast.
The first thing you notice is the material of the upper. At a touch reveals it to be smooth and supple. No surprise then, to discover that it is constructed from kangaroo leather. Renowned for its comfort, lightness and toughness, it isn’t something used every day by other manufacturers. Evidently, Fizik want us to experience something altogether special. The full carbon sole is solid and is supposedly put together in the same way as many carbon bikes are.
Stop, hold the press: would you think of putting sail-material onto a cycle shoe? Frivolous? Perhaps, but the pull from the fully adjustable velcro straps, gives you confidence that these important fasteners will survive conditions normally made for oceanic adventures.
In addition to the two velcro-sailing straps is a carbon buckle that can be angled to your personal fit. Inside the shoe is has man-made finishes that are tightly knitted to ensure you enjoy an unobtrusive pedal stroke. The sole is ergonomic and provides an arch-support sufficient for most sizes. It doesn’t offer a mouldable insoles, but that is an option that can be made later.
The R3 Donna is a luxurious shoe with the makings of an elite shoe for women’s racing. Made from well thought through materials it will be a secure and solid fit. Cautions are found mainly in fitting. This is still an Italian shoe with a narrow fitting. A bit more generous than a SIDI, but all the same, a try before you buy is recommended. As a first generation shoe, it will be easy to find this on sale below the RRP, and with the second generation now also on special offer, there’s a lot of shoe on offer. One consideration between the two is that the latest model lacks the ability to change the heel. Not necessarily a deal-breaking decision, but certainly something to think about.
Pros: Lovely Styling; Excellent craftsmanship; Secure and use of luxury materials
Cons: Not the lightest. This model is Size 5 at 235 grammes. Air vents are present on the side, but lacking up front.
What could be done to improve it? As a sportive shoe, or for a long day in the saddle, the R3 is ideal. It doesn’t currently compete with the very best of elite shoes, simply because of the weight and lack of venting options. Get these right, and the R3 is a promising option.
*The Donna R3 has been tested by Baroudeur, DM over a year’s riding.
Within the pro-peloton, David Millar sports the men’s R3. Supposedly for a shoe to last him 6 months is exceptional. One year on with racing; riding in the heat of the Far-East and the harshness of the winter months, these R1’s have moulded nicely to my feet and are still going strong.
Unlike the men’s R3, it is heavier. This is thanks to the kangaroo leather upper. A weight of 277 grammes for a size 43 here. The loss in terms of weight is rewarded through suppleness and therefore comfort. The full grain leather envelopes your foot and allows it to live comfy, yet securely in a cycle shoe. It is important to note that these are not the narrowest of shoes, nor the widest. Which meant, I needed to change the insole before finding the right fit.
A Fizik kind of Feeling
A noticeable difference on the R1 to both the ladies R3 and the men’s R3, is the presence of more venting. It is nominal, since my previous shoes were the first-gen S-Works which has both up and under venting through the meshing on the uppers. Still, this is helpful, and when cycling in Singapore, is a very welcome addition.
Similar to the ladies R3 is the styling and thought throughout the design of the shoe. Everything feels luxurious, yet absolutely functional. The white finish is great for visibility, but also makes you feel like you ride like lightning! The feel of leather is comfy, with the instep being laminated keeps oily stains at bay.
You can’t help but notice that the classic design isn’t too dissimilar to Giro/Rapha’s offering in the form of the GT shoes. At £300 each, there’s not much in it, except for the name. That, and the Yak material chosen by Giro.
Like the female R3, the men’s R1 is a princely shoe, but for many will not have the makings for an elite choice. This honour will fall to it’s lighter R3 brother, as worn by David Millar . This review was made after a year’s riding and there is currently a second-generation R1 which is now being discounted. My only reservation for getting the second-gen is that this first-gen has no sign of retiring. In addition, with replacement heels, there’s no reason to put these away just yet.
Pros: Lovely Styling; Excellent craftsmanship with luxury materials; Secure and solid sole.
Cons: Heavy (size 43 at 273 grammes) Scuffs easily.
What could be done to improve it? Laminate the leather all around for greater durability and cleaning. At this price point, it would be great to offer wider and narrow options.
So nice, you’ll want to walk around in them too.
Update – it’s 2017, and Tom’s just purchased the latest R1 shoe and agrees that it is a great shoe, and has narrow fit, but the leather is now adjusting to his shape. As always, best to try first.
:: The review is independent and the club does not have any involvement with Fizik. We simply like the idea. You can find a range of reviews here ::
Nice review. Although an older review, the shoes are still available :). As the donna version almost looks the same as the uomo, are there any differences “fit”-wise? Would it look weird to wear the donna being a man or viceversa … ? To be honest, i would wear the donna if the fit is more or less the same and the uomo isn’t available in my size :O
Had some luck and found a pair of R1 uomo exactly my size! Tested them on a first ride and i can only confirm the review. Even without heathmolding the insole, it had an excellent fit. The higher archsupport is/was a strange feeling but after getting used to it, it felt very comfy. Don’t know if it will be best to heatmold the insole. We’ll see.
Glad to hear they fit well, and in your size, Ar! Personally, I didn’t get the heat mould, but they worked well. Personally, I don’t think I could pull off a pair of Donna’s myself. Not just because of the look, but they’re very narrow. Then again, you never know till you try 🙂 The most important factor is ‘fit’. Happy riding!