Review by Joel Harwood // Photos by AJ Barlas
According to their mission statement, "Fi’zi:k is a racing brand." A quick glance through the product lineup validates that statement. Every saddle, component, and shoe is built with a specific discipline and performance in mind. While many of Fi'zi:k's competitors blur the lines between riding styles, Fi’zi:k’s M3B Uomo is pointedly XC in terms of aesthetics and features. Mountain biking isn’t necessarily as compartmentalized as marketing gurus would have you believe, however, so we decided to strap a pair on for everyday shredding, occasional racing, and frequent skidding.
M3B Uomo Highlights
- BOA IP1 closure system for performance fit
- UD carbon fiber outsole with a removable skid plate
- Fi’zi:k cycling specific insole
- Microtex lazer perforated uppers, anti-scratch leather
- Weight: 350g per shoe (size 43)
- Sizes: 39-48
- MSRP: $275 USD
The M3B Uomo is definitely an XC shoe. Zero compromises have been made to blur riding genres. One quick glance and the intention of the M3B Uomo is clear – trail riding performance.
Straight out of the box they’re comfortable. The stiffness of the outsole is immediately obvious, but not so much that walking is awkward. The use of the IP1 BOA closure system provides a performance-oriented fit and ensures that there is no dead space within the shoe. The perforated uppers are well ventilated and contour the foot snugly. Fit is true to size, although the toe box might be on the narrow side for those with wide feet. Cleat adjustment is adequate, although riders hoping to run the cleats in the same spot as their DH shoes will likely be let down. Cleats are recessed deep enough that pedal contact won’t be an issue.
The general style of the M3B Uomo is uncluttered and elegant. The solid black uppers are notably less busy than most other XC shoes, with fewer seams, colors, and knickknacks that could be susceptible to damage. Subtle Fi’zi:k branding on the toe and heel isn’t overwhelming, nor is the red outsole. Most XC shoes seem to be all about flash and flair, so the simple and classy styling of the M3B Uomo is refreshing.
On The Trail
The first thing that impressed us was how the stiffness of the outsole helps transfer energy to the pedals. While they might not be your favorite shoe for hiking around in the woods, there is no debate about pedaling performance: the M3B Uomo is a better tool. In spite of the stiffness, they were comfortable enough for long days and short hike-a-bikes.The interface between the outsole and the Crankbrothers Candy pedals we used for the test was solid. The absence of any gap between the two made for a solid, confident feel. Clipping in and out was easy, which surprisingly isn’t always the case depending on the pedal-shoe combination.
The IP1 BOA closure is a fantastic addition to any shoe. Our initial experience with the BOA system had us worried that it might be susceptible to damage, but after a few different pairs of shoes we are convinced that the BOA is a better closure than ratchets or velcro. Adjustability was easy at the trailhead or on the fly.
Aggressive riding didn’t bother the M3B Uomo. The cleat placement was just far enough to the rear of the shoe to prevent our calf muscles from getting worked and the shoe left us confident in just about every situation. The XC outsole means they require more accuracy when re-clipping on the fly, but it wasn’t a nuisance or liability when getting rowdy.
The perforated leather uppers provided outstanding breathability. There is no use comparing them to all-mountain shoes, they’re simply better in this regard. Compared to XC race shoes, they’re extremely breathable and as good as anything we’ve tried. All of the perforations mean that water has an entry point and they’re not as water resistant as some shoes, but this is a worthwhile compromise for a performance oriented shoe.
Things That Could Be Improved
The fit of the M3B Uomo was outstanding; nevertheless we question whether the Velcro strap on the forefoot is a necessity, as it didn’t seem to add to the fit of the shoe. We also wonder if it could potentially be replaced by just extending the BOA system.
Be warned, the outsole of the shoe provides little traction for hiking. Not that the Uomo was meant to excel here, but we found it less confidence inspiring than certain other XC shoes we’ve used.
At 350 grams per shoe they're certainly light enough for long days and racing, however shaving grams is the name of the game and some of the competition have managed to outperform the M3B Uomo in this regard.
Long Term Durability
As always, we did our best to put the M3B Uomo through the wringer. Plenty of JRA abuse and they still look and perform like new. The BOA system has shown no wear, the soles remain relatively unscathed, and the uppers are free of major scuff marks. Unfortunately, we did manage to put a ¼” slice in the leather at some point. The odd location had us scratching our heads and we can’t remember any crashes or bushwhacks where it was likely to have happened. It hasn't grown, and otherwise the shoe handled all of the abuse we put it through.
What's The Bottom Line?
Enduro products are all the rage these days and while all-mountain shoes have found a solid balance between pedaling and hiking, XC shoes are simply a better tool when it comes to putting power to the pedals. The fashion might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but when it comes to function, the M3B Uomo has you covered. Whether you’re wearing lycra or baggies, the Fi’zi:k M3B Uomo oozes Italian style and backs it up with world-class performance.
Visit www.fizik.it for more details.
About The Reviewer
Joel Harwood has been playing in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia for the last 8 years. He spends his summer months coaching DH race groms in the Whistler Bike Park, and guiding XC riders all over BC. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest while blasting his trail bike down trails that include rock slabs, natural doubles, and west coast tech. On the big bike he tends to look for little transitions and manuals that allow him to keep things pointed downhill, rather than swapping from line to line. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products. Joel's ramblings can also be found at Straightshot.