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(The Gear Loop) - When it comes to mountain bike shoes, the previous approach has typically resulted in fairly heavy and bulky units that go big on foot protection but don’t focus much on aerodynamic prowess and power transfer.

Things are changing and the Fizik Vento Ferox, as tested here, takes more than a leaf out of the road cycling shoe book with a fantastically stiff carbon sole, Boa fit adjustment dial and a flexible, lightweight and breathable upper that covers everything from serious XC rides and tough cyclocross events.

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The shoe features a full UD Carbon Outsole, which Fizik says ranks 10/10 on its stiffness scale for serious power transfer, while removable studs and a highly adjustable fit make it perfect for a number of off-road efforts.

We strapped on a pair and took them for a spin on some of our favoured gravel loops to see if the last word in stiffness is actually a good thing.

Our quick take

With an incredibly stiff sole and sleek silhouette, the Fizik Vento Ferox is a serious off-road shoe that priorities speed and aerodynamics over masses of armoured protection and cushioning comfort. It’s purposeful and comfortable, making it great for those into off-road events.

Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon Shoes review: lightweight and super stiff for serious off-road efforts

Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon Shoes

4.0 stars
For
  • Stiffest sole we’ve tested
  • Boa system provides secure fit
  • Surprisingly lightweight
Against
  • SPD cleats only
  • Narrow forefoot
  • Upper fabric hard to clean

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In the Loop 

Everything you need to know about the Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon in short:

  • Tear resistant upper
  • UD Carbon Outsole
  • Boa Li2 and Powerstrap fit system
  • Chunky tread pattern
  • Removable toe studs
  • Two bolt cleat compatible
  • Water resistant upper
  • Toe bumpers
The Gear LoopFizik Vento Ferox Carbon Shoes review photo 15

Styling and features

As previously mentioned, Fizik goes for a very road shoe-esque styling with this one, shunning the bulky uppers and ultra protective exteriors of standard MTB. This makes it arguably more versatile, able to tear up XC events, as well as Cyclocross and gravel events where hike-a-bike is a regular occurrence.

It’s available in a stealthy all black, which we tested, but also in a lilac and white colourway that really shows off the tear-resistant upper. This consists of a grid-like nylon weave that covers the entire outer.

The Gear LoopFizik Vento Ferox Carbon Shoes review photo 14

It is is interspersed with micro-holes to improve breathability and airflow, while the toe area is covered in a reinforced rubber that helps protect the most vulnerable part of the shoe.

The fit system is taken care of by a single Boa Li2 dial on the midfoot, while the upper is further cinched down by a large velcro strap. This could have easily been catered for by another Boa dial, but Fizik feels the pressure spread across the top of the foot is more even with a large strap, while the hardy velcro system is less likely to be hit by debris and damaged.

As a result, the entire shoe looks incredibly sleek and stealthy. Did we mention it’s also very stiff? It is, and provides a very stable platform for power transfer.

The Gear LoopFizik Vento Ferox Carbon Shoes review photo 7

Performance in the wild

Predictably, the shoes are solid straight out of the box and both the Boa fit system and the Powerstrap have to be opened right up to slide a foot into it. This might improve after a few months of use, but it’s not the soft plush materials found on rival road shoes.

That’s a good thing when you get out onto the trails though, because the Fizik Vento Ferox feels hardy enough to fend off most knocks. We hacked through skinny, tree-lined routes and the shoes managed to protect the feet from errant branches and the odd sharp bush.

The Gear LoopFizik Vento Ferox Carbon Shoes review photo 4

The fit system is great and Fizik’s decision to go with a strap is perfect for a shoe like this. It wraps around the upper foot and locks everything in place. It’s not the easiest thing to adjust, but the Boa dial makes it easy to relieve pressure over the top of the foot when they swell.

We installed the optional studs for one ride and, coupled with the deep rubber tread, the shoes proved fantastic for hike-a-bike stuff. Rolling onto the forefoot when off the bike sees that sole really dig into slippery surfaces and it’s possible to scramble up fairly steep inclines with a bike on the shoulder.

The Gear LoopFizik Vento Ferox Carbon Shoes review photo 2

The sole is as tough as they come, which is superb for power transfer and stability, but we found a slight hotspot around the knuckle of the big toe. This is likely because the shoe is fairly narrow towards the toe box, but to be honest, we have found this with a fair few shoes that don’t offer a wider fit option.

The decision to stick solely with two-bolt cleats is also good, as these avoid getting clogged up and make it easy to clip in and out of, which is great when tackling rough terrain where a low-speed topple is inevitable.

The Gear LoopFizik Vento Ferox Carbon Shoes review photo 5

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To recap

It's not the best for wider feet but with an incredibly stiff sole and sleek silhouette, the Fizik Vento Ferox is a serious off-road shoe that priorities speed and aerodynamics. It protects well from debris, but there are better shoes for this. Instead, it makes a great lightweight and stiff shoe for events and rides where speed matters.

Writing by Leon Poultney.