How does this distinctive-looking model from Fizik stack up against the benchmark designs in the flat pedal shoe category?
Visible on the feet of Amaury Pierron and Thibaut Daprela of the Commencal Muc-Off team, these distinctive shoes should be familiar to any World Cup DH fan. The only difference being that these are the flat pedal versions, while both French stars race clipped in.
At first glance the Tensor Flat looks like a huge shoe, but actually it’s just a trick of the eye caused by the bright white perimeter. They’re pretty light, too, considering their full-on DH intentions, wraparound moulded bumper, and TPU toe protection. In addition there’s a raised, padded inner ankle to cushion against crank knocks. So the Gravita Tensor manages to be tough without being heavy, but what about the fit?
Like the clip-in version, Fizik employs a lace up design bolstered by a broad Velcro Powerstrap. And inside there’s a full neoprene sock. Taken together, these three things create a really secure, stable fit – your foot simply doesn’t move inside. However, the heel is very low, which can cause a bit of rubbing – a taller heel would be even better at preventing lift. They’re also quite hard to pull on, and the heel tab doesn’t really help as much as it could. Finally the off-centre laces feel a bit unbalanced and create some tightness in an area of the foot most of us aren’t used to sensing pressure.
Walking is not very comfortable, and there’s a distinct lack of cushioning through the midsole, so impacts do start to take their toll on your feet after a while.
Flip the Gravita Tensor over and there’s a Vibram Megagrip rubber sole with a very Five Ten-inspired dotty tread pattern. There’s acres of surface area and not too much in the way of fancy sections with the aim of doing different jobs. In short, it works pretty well. The grip levels are getting on for what you’d expect from a Five Ten Freerider Pro, and it feels like there’s traction coming from the rubber as well as the pins meshing with the tread pattern. As such my feet felt stable and planted and that gave me confidence in rough sections.
However, the Fizik Gravita Tensor is extremely expensive. You could save £70 and still have a great choice of shoes that are just as grippy (perhaps more so) as well as being more comfortable to walk in. In terms of performance, the Fizik is an 8/10, but add in the price tag and it sinks to a 6/10.
The Tensor Flat has a secure, stable fit and oodles of grip from a well designed sole. Off-the-bike comfort is compromised though and the price tag is very high.