Fizik does a whole range of conventional dial and Velcro shoes but the X4 stands out with its ballet style Powerstrap arrangement taken from the top of the range R1 road shoe. It’s not as light as you might expect, the straps are hard to micro tighten and the sole is designed for casual walking, not mud plugging. The instant fit is fantastic though, the release is super easy, stiffness is well-judged for all-round gravel use and they work brilliantly under overshoes, so are they a shoo-in (pun very much intended) for our guide to the best gravel bike shoes?
While every other Fizik Road (including the cheaper Tempo Powerstrap R5) and XC MTB shoe gets a carbon-reinforced nylon sole, the X4 Terra just gets a nylon sole. The contrast colour tread sections are bonded onto that with a touring/spin bike style tread rather than a full-on XC block set. A hard plastic kicker cap keeps toes safe and the single-piece microfibre upper wraps all the way round to a logo strip at the heel. Slits in the upper fabric allow limited venting and also let the upper stretch slightly for a really accurate fit (slitting shoes like this is actually an old pro trick).
The Powerstrap system uses a lower ‘Z’’ strap that starts on the inside forefoot edge ahead of the cleat slot and wraps back to the midfoot. The second broad strap is just a simple wrap over but the tongue is velcro tabbed to stop it moving about. Rather than a foot-forging orthotic, the insole gets a rectangular EVA pad over the cleat mount area to damp vibration on rougher sections with smaller tyres. Nighttime riders should note there’s no reflective detailing anywhere.
Best gravel bike shoes: cycling shoes for gravel riding
Gravel bike clothing guide: The best kit for gravel riding
With no dials or ratchet straps to worry about, sliding your foot in and wrapping it into place couldn’t be simpler. The angling of the straps and the cut of the upper is spot-on for getting both fit and tension bang-on. That’s a good job as you can’t micro tension like you can with a dial or ratchet but for the sheer, simple, strap and forget ease, they’re awesome.
The straps mean a totally pressure-point-free fit too, but the way they wrap is really secure and cradling. They also work brilliantly if you’re pulling overshoes over the top for winter, with no extra pressure or neoprene damage caused by protruding fastenings. As long as you keep the velcro clean, there’s zero chance of a mechanical failure either.
The great fit mentioned above is matched by an equally well-judged sole. It might not be carbon but it gets a stiffness rating of 6 which would useful if Fizik quoted a stiffness rating for any of their other Road or MTB shoes on their website but some digging reveals that’s just shy of the stiffness of their R4 all-round road shoes and that feels spot-on. In other words, there’s just enough give for a comfortable ride on rough terrain and walking with some degree of grace, but still plenty of power going into your pedals when you get on the gas. The sole compliance and EVA pad definitely take some sting and fatigue out of the equation over longer/harder rides too.
Given the slick style of the upper and the people who that might appeal to, we can see why Fizik have gone for a more civilian sole tread and it works fine for cafe life. Try and clamber up a muddy slope when your tyres are clogged though and you’ll be doing well to get far and stay on your feet.
Fizik does a range of more conventional dial fastened XC MTB shoes with a ’proper’ tread and toe studs if you’re more into combat riding than cruising.
The civilian sole and distinctive styling of the X4 Terra Powerstrap won’t suit everyone and despite its simplicity, it’s no lighter or cheaper than a dialled shoe. Fit, convenience, clean lines and the sole performance build a really well-balanced shoe for people who spend 95% of their time on the bike on-road or off.
Best gravel bikes: Fun and fast adventure bikes for your next off-road ride
Best budget gravel bikes: Gravel grinding on a budget
Tech specs: Fizik X4 Terra Powerstrap shoes
Weight: 392g (Size 44 with cleats)
Colours: Anthracite + Grape/Black + Blacker
Sizes: 36 - 48
Price: £149.99 / €149.99