Fizik recently introduced the Atlas shoe to its off-road range after feedback from riders. The focus was to provide a shoe that is comfortable for any kind of off-road riding whether it's against the clock in an ultra-endurance race or embarking on your far-flung adventures into the unknown.
At one end of the Terra range is the Powerstrap X4 shoe boasting a Velcro strapped closure, it's a lightweight take on a mixed surface shoe. The Terra X5 and Terra X5 Suede shoes sit at the performance end of the spectrum with a stiff carbon soleplate and a combination of Boa and a Velcro strap retention.
The new Terra Atlas wasn't designed to be the best gravel bike shoe, but rather a versatile sibling, offering a do-everything take on the gravel footwear concept.
Design and aesthetics
The aesthetics are less traditional and more of an offering that blends the ruggedness of an off-road shoe and the function of a trail running trainer. The Fizik Atlas comes in stealth all-black, subtle green for a neutral look, a brighter grey option and the most outlandish colorway being eccentric pink and grape you see here. The latter is for the braver riders among us and will certainly divide opinion.
Starting off with the completely redesigned outer sole and tread, Fizik has taken the existing mountain bike shoe; the Terra X5 and not only increased the contact area of the tread but also the amount of supportive width and grip on offer from the outer sole on the Terra Atlas. The Terra Atlas also features toe studs for times when you need to push or walk up steep sections.
The redesigned X5 tread is made from a soft and grippy rubber coating that runs from toe to heel including the midsole. The TPU bumper gives your most vulnerable areas increased protection for off-road riding. Hidden beneath the rubber, Fizik has opted to utilize a nylon sole plate to give riders more comfort for long days on the bike. The soleplate is given a stiffness rating of 5 by Fizik but, frustratingly, it is difficult to quantify exactly what that means as there is no cross-brand rating system on offer.
However, choosing to use a nylon material over carbon fiber gives the Atlas more flex in the foot without compromising too heavily on pedaling performance.
On the inside of the shoe, you will find a 100 per cent polyester lining. Padding in the shoe is kept to a minimum to give the best fit and reduce the chance of hot spots. The upper part of the opening has the most welcomed amount of padding that extends from the area at the top of the tongue and around the heel. At the top of the deep heel cup is a series of silicon dots to grip onto your foot to stop any heel lift.
The upper section of the shoe low-cut in design and is made from a flexible polyurethane synthetic leather material with a diamond texture. The outer layer is covered with vent holes over the toes and it continues almost all the way down both sides to the heel cup to enable your feet to breathe. The rear of the shoe has a heel loop that can be used to simply store them or to aid in sliding your feet in.
The retention duties are taken care of by a sole Boa L6 system. Unlike the other shoes in the range, the Terra Atlas has no straps. Instead, Fizik opted for a cleaner look with five neat plastic eyelet loops stitched into the upper and a single loop guiding the wire on the tongue to ensure that, once tightened, the tongue stays in place to boost comfort.
With an emphasis on comfort the Terra Atlas is designed to be wider and more flexible than a traditional cycling shoe. Think more of a hiking trainer feel than the unyielding, close-fitting cycling shoe. To further ensure that you will find your fit, Fizik has a comprehensively huge range of sizes from 36 to 48 with half sizes offered between 37 and 46.
After a while of wearing these shoes, I truly believe that the Fizik Terra Atlas is one of the most comfortable and versatile shoe I have worn. Short of wearing a hiking shoe with a cleat in the sole, these offer a great compromise of an off-road cycling shoe and something that is comfortable off the bike. It's a difficult balancing act to produce a shoe that is flexible enough to offer grip on the ground and yet remains rigid enough to transfer power through to the pedal.
The upper material is thin and has been made as flexible as possible for synthetic leather. Not as thin or as breathable as a woven design but this shoe provides a more weatherproof and robust finish. The construction and the choice of materials make for a shoe that is light (my size 42 comes in at 742g for the pair) and remains supportive and gives the rider protection. The flexibility in the upper means there is little or no bedding in time required - you can expect straight out-of-the-box comfort much like a pair of trainers.
The Terra Atlas is indeed a very impressive shoe but it is not without some minor oversights, some that I would argue are key on a shoe that has been designed to offer the ultimate all-day comfort. The model is fitted with the lesser Boa L6 closure system, the dial can only tighten in millimeter increments. To back off the tension, you pull out the dial to fully release, then frustratingly tighten again. The Li2 version allows you to turn the dial to tighten and loosen to ensure a precise fit and the pull to fully release the wire allowing removal.
The Fizik Terra Atlas gravel shoe is a superb offering - perhaps not an out-and-out performance shoe but an adventure option for those who enjoy exploring or bikepacking in general. While the colorway is polarizing there are other hues on offer, and the comfort levels are just brilliant. Then there's the sticker price which strikes a superb balance in a segment that's flooded with options.
Tech Specs: Fizik Terra Atlas gravel shoe
- Color: Black/Black, Pink/Grape, Grey/Black, Army/Black
- Retention: Single Boa closure
- Uppers: Synthetic leather
- Outsole: Nylon cleat plate and rubber
- Weight: 742g a pair Men’s size 42
- Size: EU 36-48
- Price: $159.99 / £154 / €159