FIZIK TERRA ARTICA GTX WINTER SHOE REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston | Photos by Ian Linton
A pair of insulated and waterproof riding shoes can be a godsend when the temperatures drop in the depths of winter, especially for riders who suffer from circulation problems. Robert has been putting one of Fizik’s offerings – the Terra Artica GTX – to the test over the Scottish Winter, and it’s safe to say his feet have been thankful on his winter clipless pedal rides.
The Fizik Terra Artica GTX shoes are a winter clipless cycling shoe designed for MTB and Gravel. Thanks to the GORE-TEX Koala membrane, the Terra Artica GTX shoes are waterproof without sacrificing breathability to avoid suffocating the foot inside under hard pedaling efforts. Inside this is a brushed fleece lining, which insulates the foot thanks to trapped air and gives a soft padding to the inside to keep the foot comfortable during long pedaling efforts. The upper material uses a Ripstop fabric to fend off abrasions, with a High-density PU upper to add further protection against the duress of winter mountain biking.
The Terra Artica GTX shoes are secured to the foot with a BOA L6 dial on the lower to mid foot, then a Velcro closure around the upper ankle to get them cinched down tight. The sole is Fizik’s X5 Nylon outsole, with generous rubber tread on the key walking areas and around the cleat, and two large studs fitted to the toe area for extra purchase when walking on loose ground. This sole has a stiffness index of 5 out of 10 on Fizik’s scale, which should provide support without discomfort on longer descents. The Fizik Terra Artica GTX shoes are offered in sizes 36 to 48 with half sizes from 37 to 47, in a choice of Black or Grape/Purple colors; with an RRP of £249.99/$259.99.
The Fizik Terra Artica GTX shoes are more towards the XC/trail side of the spectrum than the typical gravity-style shoes I tend to ride in, so I had concerns about the comfort and protection they would offer. The curved sole, streamlined profile, and more forward cleat position were instant giveaways that these aren’t designed to be used in the most aggressive scenarios, but as it turns out they offer a pretty reassuring place for your feet for all but the gnarliest of winter rides. My feet are fairly large in volume, so I sized up ½ to the EU45.5 to ensure there was ample space, and they tipped the scales at 902g for the pair. There was enough compliance in the upper material and adjustability of the fit with the BOA and Velcro combination to offer a comfortable and supportive environment for my feet in this size, and I would likely have been comfortable in my true size if committed to thin socks only. You’re unlikely to get a particularly thick winter sock inside these to add further warmth to the mix, but then that’s what their insulation is for. You could perhaps size up a full size if you’re looking to ride in seriously cold conditions.
I don’t tend to be the first to complain about cold feet when the temperatures drop, but the past winter has seen some particularly cold spells in Scotland, with a few rides around the minus 5 Celsius mark (20F). Down at these temperatures with a mid-thickness Merino sock I was certainly beginning to feel the cold after some time in the saddle, but it was tolerable for me. I’d suggest those with a lower tolerance for cold feet would likely be comfortable down to just below freezing. The waterproofing is good, with no perceivable water coming through the main body of the shoe, and the only moisture finding its way in through the top cuff. When things heated up, I was more than happy to ride in the Fizik shoes up to around 8 degrees Celsius, with the insulation causing notable heat buildup above this. That said, it was never a stifling environment for my feet even above the 10C mark, as they do feel to vent the worst of the pressure buildup well.
The mid-top cuff adds support around the ankle to give extra confidence and security when riding aggressively and does a reasonable job at protecting from the elements when combined with a long trouser. However, a mid-length or long sock will protrude above the cuff, so if your trouser legs don’t prevent water from hitting your socks then moisture will eventually find its way in through the top. I’d love to see an extended sleeve on these to sit further up the leg and reduce the chances of rain penetrating. The sole stiffness is not extreme, sitting in the same category as their Gravita Tensor gravity shoe, but they’re certainly not a soft shoe. They have a fairly typical cleat track position for a trail shoe, which prevents you from getting that flat pedal-emulating cleat position that gives the real confidence and comfort for aggressive descending. The protection on the front side of the toe was effective and shrugged off a couple of mid–sized impacts without too much complaint, but there’s limited protection on offer for the outside of your foot so you should be careful to keep your pinky toe safe. For their designed trail and gravel usage they’re certainly a comfortable shoe, with enough stiffness to keep most riders happy with the power transfer and support when laying down the watts.
The rubber around the cleat area is fairly soft, offering good walking grip and comfort as well as fairly good stick onto a pedal platform or pin. The area under the arch received a fair amount of wear from the moments I wasn’t able to get clipped in, offering a secure space for the pedal to lock into and aid in riding out a technical section confidently, but looks like it may be suffering as a result. This kind of abuse is very much out of the designed use case of these shoes, so they can be forgiven, and Fizik does offer a more aggressive winter shoe model if you’re looking to exclusively ride more gravity-based wintery trails. I managed to lose one of the removable studs from the front of the shoe after the first couple of rides, so it’s certainly worth checking these are tight enough when you first receive the shoes, but otherwise there’s been no issue after months of winter abuse. They’re a serious amount of money, and if you’re going to use them above their trail riding designed limits then you’ll likely run into issues down the line, but they’re an excellent example at doing what they’re designed to.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Fizik Terra Artica GTX clipless shoes have been a real treat for my feet this winter, and though I’ve regularly pushed them above their intended riding aggression, they’re yet to give me any issues as a result. If you’re keen to get out through the cold and wet winters and prefer an xc/trail-style shoe, then they’re an excellent premium option.
Price: $259.99 / £249.99