Fizik Terra Powerstrap x4
Gravel cycling shoes perfect for riding all roads.
There was a time when all things gravel cycling required some hobbled together combination of products. A combination of things designed for either mountain biking or road cycling. When it came to shoes, racers tended to use road specific shoes and pedals, while for most people that meant using a mountain bike specific shoe. There’s nothing wrong with that arrangement, but there’s also something to using the right tool for the job. I like using the right tool for the job, and when it comes to gravel cycling, the Fizik Terra Powerstrap X4 is the right tool.
The Fizik Terra Powerstrap x4 gravel cycling shoe is a bit like a walkable road shoe you can clean.
When I tell people about how great the Fizik gravel shoes I’m wearing are, the first question is always, “What is a gravel shoe?” A gravel shoe, like gravel riding in general, takes a piece or two from mountain biking and a piece or two from road biking. The Terra Powerstrap x4 more or less feels like a walkable road shoe that can take the abuse of offroad riding. The most obvious departure from a road shoes is the two bolt cleat mount. On the other end of the spectrum, the most obvious departure from a mountain bike shoe is the shape and feel. The profile is narrow compared to mountain bike shoes, and at 292 grams (size 42.5), the weight is lower than even top of the line cross country mountain bike shoes.
The sole Fizik chose for the Terra Powerstrap X4 is nylon combined with rubber tread. The tread pattern isn’t particularly aggressive, but it’s enough to do the job. There are better choices for scrambling through mud and sand in a cyclocross course. The Terra Powerstrap X4 does a good job walking on gravel though. On a recent ride I found myself jogging down, then up, single track switchbacks with my bike on my shoulder. This isn’t exactly what the Terra Powerstrap x4 is design for but I had no complaints. Spending miles on pavement, you do notice that the soles are less stiff than the best road specific shoes, but they work fine.
The biggest design features of the Fizik Terra Powerstrap X4 is right in the name, the powerstrap. This is what makes the offering from Fizik unique. It’s not a complicated system, but the most obvious part of it, the two large hook and loop closures, aren’t actually what makes it work. The lower closure anchors at the sole on the inside of the big toe. From there, it wraps back and forth across the foot while the top closure anchors at the sole on the outside of the foot. The idea is to wrap the foot from the sole instead of pull two upper pieces together.
What makes the whole system work is the design of the tongue. Traditional shoes design is comprised of two upper portions and a tongue in the center. The Fizik design acts like two upper portions that overlap in the center. There is a hook and loop connection between the tongue and outside of the upper part of the shoe. This connection keeps the tongue anchored to the upper on one side. As you tighten the powerstrap, the tongue and outer part move as one. It’s an uncomplicated design that works well.
The Fizik Terra Powerstrap X4 is a combination of the pieces I want from both road and mountain shoes. This combination makes what I find to be a perfect shoe for gravel cycling. The outer is easy to clean, and the sole can take a beating without getting destroyed. If I need to hike a bike, I can do it, but there’s plenty of stiffness. They don’t feel heavy, and they aren’t so wide that they rub the crank arms. A well thought out closure system and a good price, make for the goldilocks of shoes on a gravel bike.