Only What's Necessary (OWN) was founded by Dan Hutchinson and Warren Bosomworth, two shoe designers who decided that there was a need for a high-end shoe created specifically for flat pedals. The FR-01 is the result of that collaboration, a high-top, Vibram-soled model that looks, and fits, differently than any other mountain bike shoe currently in existence.
The FR-01 has what OWN call a 'modular liner system', which means the shoes come with two different liners that can be swapped out depending on the day's conditions. There's a water-resistant, lightly insulated liner for cool and wet days, and a more ventilated, uninsulated option for warmer conditions. Both liners have a 4mm thick section of D30 foam on the bottom that's intended to provide protection from hard impacts and trail vibrations.
FR-01 Shoe Details
• Kevlar reinforced upper
• Dual compound Vibram sole
• Modular liner system, includes breathable Air Mesh liner and fleece lined soft shell liner
• D3O foam panel on the bottom of each liner
• Designed to be quick-drying and easy to clean
• Sizes: 260, 270, 280, 290, 300mm
• Price: €220, free worldwide shipping
The exterior of the shoe is constructed from a Kevlar-reinforced fabric that's then thermo bonded to the Vibram sole, a method that's similar to the construction technique used for high-end outerwear. Two different durometers of rubber are used on the FR-01's sole, with the grippier portion underfoot to grab onto the pedals and a harder rubber with a taller tread pattern at the front and rear of the shoe for improved hiking traction.
The company's name may be Only What's Necessary, but it turns out that constructing a shoe from all those top tier materials does come at a price, and the FR01 will set you back €220 ( approximately $240 USD), although that price does include free worldwide shipping. In addition to the white colored heel shown, there are also red and black options that aren't quite as flashy. There are five sizes available: 260, 270, 280, 290, and 300. For best results, you'll need to measure your foot from heel to toe and then consult OWN's sizing chart in order to determine the optimum size. Performance
The first challenge the FR-01 presented was actually getting them on. The tall liner and relatively narrow ankle opening make it tricky to slide into them, but if you've ever pulled on a wakeboard binding or a snowboard boot you know the drill. Thankfully, the liner does have a pull tab at the front and the back — without these I might have needed to go steal a shoe horn from a wizened old relative.
Once they're on, though, the fit of the FR-01 shoes is excellent, especially compared to some of the boxier, skate-style shoes out there. They hug every contour of your feet, with a snug fit that feels more like a neoprene booty rather than a bike shoe. That close fit makes it easier to tell exactly where your feet are in relation to the pedals, especially compared to a thicker-soled shoe like Five Ten's Sam Hill 3.
When it comes to grip, the FR-01's don't quite match the flypaper-like stickiness of Five Ten's Stealth rubber, but the Vibram soles were grippy enough for all but the roughest trails, as long as they were paired with pedals with a more concave design and taller pins — I had good results with Race Face's Atlas and Specialized's Boomslang pedals. Off the bike, I did find myself wishing for a more aggressive tread pattern a few times, typically in frozen or muddy conditions where the smooth part of the sole struggled to find purchase.
At first, I was worried that I'd feel every pin when I stepped down onto the pedals, but there's actually plenty of material to prevent that from happening — it was the fit rather than the construction that put that idea into my head. I don't have any complaints about the overall stiffness either — there's enough support to keep them from curling over the pedals too much, and I didn't have any discomfort even on 3+ hour rides.
One of the downsides to that snug fit is that there's not really enough room for a pair of thicker socks, especially with the water resistant liner installed, since that liner already takes up a little extra room. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend these for full-on winter riding in below zero temperatures — a roomier shoe with thicker insulation would be a better choice.
On the topic of foul weather, I had plenty of opportunities to drench the FR-01's due to an extra-wet winter. They'll keep a moderate rain at bay, but when the heavens really open up and the puddles get deep the FR-01's can't really keep up. Water will make its way past the non-gusseted tongue, and once water gets over the cuff there's not really anywhere for it to go, which means you'll have soggy feet until you pry the shoes off at the end of the ride. However, pulling the liner out after a ride does help them dry quickly, and they're very easy to rinse off with a hose, both pluses for riders who live in wetter climates.
Regarding the overall durability, after months of use, the FR-01 shoes are still going strong, without any indications that that will change anytime soon. The fabric is free of any rips or scuffs, and the sole is still firmly attached along the entire perimeter of the shoe. Pinkbike's Take