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Rachel Fenton, marathon MTB racer, put a pair of fi’zi:k M5 Donna shoes through their paces. Could they can keep up!

It's a bold statement, but the fi’zi:k M5 Donna shoe is the most comfortable off-road cycling shoe I have come across. Combine that with a stylish design and clever mountain bike specific features such as anti-scratch toe coverings and in my opinion you have a winner.

Over the years, I've struggled to find a pair of mountain bike shoes that fit me. I'm either between sizes, or the shoes are too narrow causing my toes to go numb - never a good thing when you're trying to concentrate on those challenging trails.

Welcome then, the Fi’zi:k M5 Donna shoe, which appears to have solved all my problems. After chatting with UK brand manager Hamish Bingley I chose a 38.5 (UK 5.5) - half a size larger than I normally wear. Logic being that these shoes are ‘Italian sized’ i.e. small, so you are advised to go bigger (unlike the Fi’zi:k road shoes which are apparently more ‘British’).

My immediate reaction on trying them on was that they were very comfortable - not something I usually associate with cycling shoes! They are well padded around the ankle and the supple mesh and microtex upper moulds to the foot. Compared to the other MTB shoes I have worn recently the sole is extremely flexible. For commuting to work - which for me includes a stroll through the Greenwich foot tunnel - this makes them absolutely spot on as there's enough flex to allow a proper walking motion. It feels like you are wearing a pair of trainers.

Riding offroad it was a little strange at first to feel my pedal pressing through the sole when riding out of saddle and I was a little concerned that I was losing some power to flexing the sole rather than turning the pedals. It turns out though this is less of a worry once you attach a race number to your bars. The gains from having comfortable feet for the first time in years for me far outweighed anything else. That said, Fi’zi:k also produce a second level of shoe, the M1, in the men’s range with a stiffer full carbon sole for racing. It would be great for this option to be given to women too.

Fi'zi:k have

One feature I am most impressed by is the anti-scratch leather toe. As a marathon racer I have unfortunately spent a good deal of time pushing my bike up a rocky hillside destroying the toes of untold numbers of shoes. As a commuter, stopping at traffic lights every 5 minutes, unclipping and clipping back in has a similar effect. Basically, I scuff the toes of my bike shoes a lot! The fi’zi:k M5 range all have toe covers akin to those on climbing shoes and as far as I can tell it is going to be pretty hard for me to destroy/scuff them.

At £149.99 these shoes are a tad pricey, but it is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the choice of materials and fit. Given a choice between spending a bit more money or spending less and foregoing the level of comfort these provide, I would happily pay more.

Lastly, and by no means least, they look pretty damn stylish. A couple of weeks ago I had to cycle to some exams and couldn’t fit another pair of shoes in my bag along with my massive textbook so I just wore my shiny M5 Donnas with a pair of jeans. Someone asked me where I got them from thinking they were just a pair of cool trainers!

Verdict

Superbly comfortable shoes, worthy of their price tag with some great mountain bike specific features.

Pros

- Extremely comfortable

- Toe cap

- Look stylish

Cons

- No race version for women yet

Price: £149.99

Sizes: 36 - 43 (half sizes available)

More information: Fi'zi:k

What Fi’zi:k says about their M5 Donna Mountain bike shoes

High performance professional cycling shoes, handmade in Italy.

Materials: Microtex/Nylon Mesh/Anti-scratch Leather

Outsole: Nylon carbon-reinforced

Buckle: Aluminium loading lever

Straps: Sail cloth resitant

Insole: fi'zi:k superlight insole

Weight: 289g (size 38.5 without insole)