The trend toward “dial” cycling shoes has recently started to reverse as more cycling companies have started to re-introduce retro-inspired knitted lace up options. Inspired by original handcrafted cycling shoes, knit lace up cycling shoes offer lightweight designs and more comfort. Although they aren’t as convenient as dial closure systems, it’s easy to understand their appeal and why many companies charge so much for them. That’s why we are excited to be reviewing the new FLR F-35 Knit lace up shoes which have a retail price of only $69.99. Despite the budget price, the F-35 Knit shoes utilize FLR’s new XD-Knit upper nylon construction and minimalist styling. The shoes feature a nylon R250 outsole and three-bolt compatible cleat attachment. FLR offers the F-35 shoes with either a three velcro closure or the lace up variation we’ll be reviewing here.
The FLR F-35 Knit shoes are a rare combination of lace up and knit uppers at a hard to beat budget price point.
|Measured Weight (in g)||540 (EUR 44)|
|Likes|| + Lightweight|
+ Very comfortable and ventilated uppers
+ Budget price for knit lace up shoe
|Dislikes||– Less convenient than dial closures|
– Lack of color options
– Limited distribution network
|Where to Buy (US)||FLR|
The shoes come in a simple black cardboard shoe box with FLR logos on the lid and sides. Inside the box you’ll find:
- F-35 Knit Lace Shoes
- 2x Look Memory Eyelet Screws
We’d recommend using or saving the Look Memory Eyelet screws (read our guide on how to use them) as they are easy to lose and difficult to re-order.
FIT AND FINISH
The F-35 Knit shoes have a clean and minimalist design to them. With the XD-Knit uppers, the shoes have a premium textured finish with plenty of ventilation holes. It’s a very flexible design that is soft to the touch and conforms to your feet. Currently FLR only offers the shoes in a black finish with matching black laces and details. Subtle FLR logos on the heels of the shoes and the sole are the only branding on the shoes which gives it a sleek look. The only other color on the shoes are the silver reflective elements on the heel which help with nighttime visibility. The toe and heel are reinforced to provide some structure to the otherwise flexible shoes.
In terms of soles, the F-35 Knit shoes share the nylon R250 soles that FLR uses on their other entry and mid level cycling shoes. The soles have a claimed 7 stiffness index which is half of the carbon fiber R500 soles found on the FLR F-XX shoes. As with the other shoes that share this sole, they are flexible but are still efficient at transferring power. Integrated rubber pads on the heel and toe help protect the soles when walking and provide extra traction. The R250 soles are 3-bolt compatible with 5mm adjustability and the Look Memory Eyelet which makes installing cleats easy.
Although lace up closure systems aren’t as practical as dial systems, it is easy to see the appeal. The lace up makes it easier to distribute the tension compared to single dial closure systems like the FLR F-11 Knit. With the multiple loops, we found it easy to adjust the tension on the laces to customize the fit. Making adjustments while riding isn’t possible with the lace up design as you’ll need to stop to re-tie but the combination of the knit upper and lace provide a lot of comfort. Drawback of any lace design is that it can come undone and get caught in the chain. To avoid this, FLR has integrated an elastic hoop on the tongue to securely hold the lace ends. It’s a simple design that works well and in our opinion is superior to the three velcro closure option.
Even during the first break-in rides with the FLR F-35 Knit shoes we were impressed with just how comfortable the shoes are. While they are a bit more difficult to put on, as you can’t completely release the tension without undoing the laces, once you start riding the combination of the knit uppers and evenly distributed tension of the laces provide flexibility and ventilation. Particularly if you have wider feet or are doing longer rides, the pliable sides of the knit surface easily expand. It’s a nice combination, especially at such a lower price point. That said, as with the F-11 shoes that share the nylon R250 soles, the shoes flex under out-of-the-saddle sprints or climbs. That means you lose a bit of power when pedaling compared to carbon shoes, but it is more comfortable to ride with.
Overall, we found the FLR F-35 Knit to be very affordable and comfortable cycling shoes. The flexible knit construction and lace up closure system are soft and well ventilated. While the lace up design is less convenient than dial systems, it’s easy to see the appeal. Not only do the F-35 knits have a more retro appearance but it’s also easier to distribute tension when tightening the laces. Despite the budget price and nylon soles, the F-35 Knit is a surprisingly competitive shoe. Even though it doesn’t provide the direct power transfer or rigidity, it’s an excellent option for riding the trainer or for more casual and long rides. If you’ve always wanted to try a lace up cycling shoe without the premium price tag, the F-35 Knit is a compelling option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by FLR. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.