Cycling apparel brand Pas Normal Studios has a history of shaking up the industry with unique and popular collaborations; think of its partnership with helmet company Sweet Protection or the range of bags and footwear it released with activewear company Salomon a few months ago. For gravel riding fans, the brand’s latest collab is perhaps one of the most exciting yet, as Pas Normal Studios joins forces with cycling footwear giant, Fizik, to launch a special edition Ferox Carbon gravel shoe.
The aim of the collaboration between the two brands is to combine Pas Normal Studios classic minimalistic Scandinavian style with the highly-acclaimed high performance and technical qualities of Fizik shoes. The Italian shoe manufacturers have been creating cycling footwear for the very best riders in the world for over two decades, while Pas Normal Studios is a modern brand that is quickly becoming popular among the most fashionable of cyclists.
Creative director and co-founder of Pas Normal Studios, Karl-Oskar Olsen commented: “The cycling shoe is an interesting meeting between the softness and complexity of the human foot with the very concrete needs of the hardware that locks the shoe to the pedal. Human and machine. Finding balance and beauty in the solidified world of carbon fibre, BOA dials and Fizik technology and materials was equally inspiring and challenging.”
Olsen and his design team opted for an off-white and navy colourway in the Ferox Carbon shoe, featuring, naturally, the iconic Pas Normal Studios branding that adorns the Danish company’s extensive kit range. While the base colours are simple, Pas Normal has also added purple detailing in places, perhaps as an ode to the well-known lilac and white colourway that the Ferox Carbon has originally been recognisable for.
Giovanni Fogal, Fizik brand manager, adds that while a large focus has been placed on ensuring that the shoe has visionary aesthetics, the Ferox Carbon shoe still remains an extremely functional, high-performance option, designed for the fastest off-road riding.
“Pas Normal Studios comes from a different background and product category, yet we’re like-minded in our pursuit to interpret and define contemporary cycling aesthetics while remaining keenly focused on performance and the functional details that elevate each ride,” Fogal said.
When it comes to the technical details of the Fizik Ferox Carbon shoe, the main fabric used across the top of the foot is a ‘ripstop-style’ material, similar to that used in bikepacking bags, made from a breathable mesh with a protective polyurethane-laminated material bonded to it. This material also should protect the shoes from wear and tear or during crashes. According to Fizik’s website, the Vento Ferox Carbon carbon plate sole is rated with a stiffness factor of 10/10, the same as the brand’s top range road shoes. This means these are shoes created for racing and riding fast, rather than with comfort as a key focus.
The shoe features a removable insole and there are various vents in the sole to help with breathability, while the cleat box also is sealed inside to prevent water transfer. There are also optional stud holes on the bottom of the shoe, alongside a rubber outsole with plenty of grip.
To keep the Vento Ferox Carbon shoes in place, there is a Li2 Boa dial at the front and a large strap above it which Fizik calls the Powerstrap. As well as being adjustable on the go, Fizik argues that the strap offers greater security in care of crash – twin Boa designs can sometimes pop out of the shoe when contact is made with the tarmac and render them unusable. Also at the top of the shoe, the tongue is padded and there is a grippy microfiber material at the back of the shoe to prevent heel lift.
First ride impressions
As soon as I opened the box and saw the Pas Normal Studios x fizik Ferox Carbon gravel shoes I appreciated the sleek, minimalist design on the shoe. As is to be expected with a brand known to be extremely fashion-conscious, the off-white and navy combination is a great choice by Pas Normal, and it works well with the large navy strap along the top of the foot. My only concern with using such a light colour on the shoe is that it is difficult to keep clean and may start to look quite grubby after some off-road rides. While the material is easy to wipe clean, this is something to keep in mind if you’re planning to use these as the winter months approach quickly.
I ordered the shoes in my usual size and found them to be a great fit, feeling comfortable almost immediately. Putting the shoes on is easy and quick thanks to the Powerstrap design and it's easy to adjust them on the move – I found myself opting for a slightly looser fit on hot, more relaxed rides and then ensuring that they were tight when I was going to be doing any type of effort.
The stiff sole comes into its own almost straight away on the shoes. You can really feel the power transfer through the carbon sole propelling you forwards as you ride, which makes long stretches of flat gravel especially enjoyable. At the same time, the sole isn’t so stiff that the shoe becomes uncomfortable when riding. I didn’t suffer from any hot spots on the sole of my foot as I have done with other extremely race-focused shoes in the past. The Powerstrap also adds to the secure feel of the shoe, it really clamps the foot in place and feels much more stable than a dual-boa design. While feeling tight on the foot, the padding across the tongue of the shoe meant I felt no discomfort on the top of my foot, while the microfibre and silicone dotted heel cup ensured there wasn’t any movement at the back of the shoe either.
While this sort of security is undoubtedly an asset when it comes to gravel racing or high-intensity riding, it does mean the shoes are less comfortable to walk in. While the sole has plenty of grip, the stiffness of it means that the movement of the foot is limited and these aren’t a pair of shoes I’d reach for if I was doing a multi-day adventure that might involve some walking. That said, the Ferox Carbon shoes are marketed as a high-performance gravel shoe and if that’s what you are looking for, they certainly fit the bill in that regard.
The Pas Normal Studios x Fizik Ferox Carbon gravel shoes retail for £290 which is undeniably a high price for a pair of shoes. However, both brands are premium and the shoes do undoubtedly have an expensive feel as soon as they are out of the box.
Overall, if you’re looking for a shoe that is stiff, comfortable, high-performance and also looks very fashionable, the Pas Normal Studios x fizik Ferox Carbon gravel shoes are a great option. They come at a price, but one that is worth it if you value looking good while out on the bike and are looking to make some important gains off-road.