Review: Fizik Terra Artica X2 Winter Shoes

Nov 18, 2021 at 15:48
by Matt Beer  


There's an old saying that goes, "don't bring a knife to a gun fight", and that rings true for trying to ride year round in shoes designed for dry weather. It's battle you can't win. Enter the Fizik Artica X2, a warm and waterproof BOA-lace clipless shoe that doesn't look like it's been swallowed by a neon yellow balloon.

As I write this, Southern British Columbia is in a state of emergency after hundreds of millimeters of rain fell over a 48-hour period, literally washing away major sections of highways leading into the Lower Mainland and leaving axle-deep trenches in some of the North Vancouver trails. When the weather does break and the trails are rehabilitated the riding will continue, but the rain won't surrender forever. So kit up, because the short days and harsh weather have set in for the Northern Hemisphere.
Fizik Artica X2 Details

• Waterproof
• Fleece-lined insulation
• BOA-lace/zippered cuff closures
• Vibram MegaGrip
• eVent upper material
• EVA midsole
• Sizes: 36-48 with half sizes between 37-47
• Colors: black
• Weight: 1050 grams (size 42)
• MSRP: $299 USD
fizik.com

Fizik labels the Artica X2s as winter MTB shoes, and rightfully so. They are insulated and have an eVent neoprene zippered cuff to lock out the elements. The sturdy Vibram MegaGrip soles have tenacious rubber lugs that wrap into a more protective toe than what is seen from the outside. Although the Artica X2s are weatherproof shoes, combing them with pants of equal resistance is a guaranteed method to keep your feet dry. Save the Gore-Tex socks and shorts look, because we know how the Titanic sank like a bucket without a lid.

I am a huge advocate for gators on off-road shoes in any climate or terrain. They keep out stones, pine needles, and most importantly with these shoes, water. The Artica X2s have one of the longest cuffs I've seen on any mountain bike winter shoe, excluding full-on fat bike style boots. At 525 g per foot, the Artica X2's materials do tack on about 100 g in total over my dry condition shoes, the Five Ten Hellcats.

Henry Quinney recently reviewed the more mild mannered Fizik Terra Clima X2 if you're searching for shoes that aren't as specific to cold weather, but still offer waterproofing






Fit and Price

Available in a decent range of sizes from 36-48, the Artica X2s also come in half sizes between 37-47. My go-to thin wool socks made the size 42 fit true in length, and I'd say their comparable across the forefoot to standard width shoes from Specialized. The minimalist blacked-out look doesn't have unnecessary, spongy padding to absorb water and the fleece lining is inviting while the cuff creates a firm, snug fit.

Under the foot, the insole wasn't too aggressive in height and didn't require a long break in time. There were no hot spots on the sole or in the toe box, although I noticed a pressure point at the last lace when I really cranked the BOA down. This varied depending on how I flexed my foot when tightening the BOA dial. I would prefer to see a velcro strap near the top of the eyelets, allowing the BOA to run moderately tight and the strap to evenly disperse pressure.

As you can imagine, the waterproofing and insulating materials do come at a cost - $299 USD to be exact. It may seem like a lot of coin, but it's hard to put a price on warm, dry feet. It will allow you to ride for longer in miserable conditions, and if you commit to seasonal footwear you're likely to increase the lifespan of both sets of shoes even further as well.


Waterproof and fleece lined with a BOA lace and ventilated cuff - I'm sold.





Performance

My time spent in the Artica X2s have made riding in relentless rain much more enjoyable, and the fact is I ride better with warm, dry feet in the Artica X2s. They're are best suited to sub 10ºC (50ºF) weather, because even with the eVent cuff they can retain some moisture when the temperature goes into double digits. Given their genuine waterproof capabilities, they are very breathable. On occasion, I did notice damp socks post ride, but this was either due to immense amounts of water soaking through my pants and running into the shoes, or possibly moisture build up in the humid climate. Either way, I never regretted choosing the Artica X2s for the ride.

Does that mean that they stack up equally with standard shoes in terms of outright performance? Well, yes and no. Much like winter riding in itself, they don't produce the same inputs like a full summertime kit offers. Priority number one for MTB shoes is putting down the pedalling power and that stiff sole does deliver on that front. That sole is marginally thicker due to the insulation, though, and gives you a feeling of standing taller on the pedals. Rolling an ankle when the rocks and roots become frosty and is even easier with a narrower, higher, and less flexible sole like the Articas, particularly under the heel. More support in this area would provide a better connection for aggressive or enduro riding.

As for the grip of the Vibram sole, they are safe on rocks while pushing up for another go and dig into soft soil well with giant lugs, but aren't as soft and tacky as Stealth rubber. Caution is needed around wet roots. I also had to remove a spacer from under the cleats to get the same contact on the pedal platform as I would with my summer shoes. The North Shore was coated with some early snow at higher elevation, but I didn't find the cleat area to be heat sapping. Dare I say, these would even be suitable for fat biking, if the temperatures didn't drop to into negative double digits.

For the convenience that the BOA system offers, the zippered cuff has a narrow opening to slip your foot into and takes some practice by first opening up the laces as much as possible. It seems intuitive, but was comedic on the first few attempts. A simple finger-loop on the back of the cuff to pull your foot down into the shoe would be beneficial here. Located between the crank arm and the inside of the ankle bone, that zipper had me worried from the get go. Fortunately, I didn't happen to strike the zipper at all while pedalling, but during the odd landing or compression, I noticed a little bump from the zipper here and there. It wasn't enough to cause any pain, but why it isn't on the outside of the cuff left me scratching my head.

I can't comment on true long term durability just yet, but so far all of the seams and rubber are stay in place with no signs of wear. If there is a problem, Fizik offers a two year warranty, which I think is fair for a pair of shoes that see the worst conditions. They've essentially changed my whole approach to winter riding and I have added other purposeful pieces of kit. The warmer my limbs are, the more I can justify suiting up to ride in the rain and finish with feeling in my toes.


The looks and installation is much like a wet suit. The lack of finger loops on the heel require some practice to pull on the shoes, but once you're in, they'll keep your toes comfy and dry.





Pros

+ Keep feet warm and dry as advertised
+ Cleat channel has plenty of adjustment
+ BOA and zipper make removal and cleaning simple when caked in mud

Cons

- Can be difficult to pull on
- Sides of heel cup need more support
- Top BOA lace can cut into an articulated foot when cinched tight





Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe Fizik Artica X2s have been the best addition to my fall / winter riding kit yet. Paired with waterproof pants that overlap well with the shoes, your feet will stay warm and dry in harsh mountain bike conditions. Additional support in the ankle would be nice to see, and the zipper could be moved to the outside of the cuff, but I happily reach for these shoes when the North Shore throws down all of its winter elements. Matt Beer



56 Comments

  • 69 8
 Just a reminder that the Crocs are waterproof too! Be safe be well, Incognito Robin
  • 23 2
 I wonder if the new recruits to PB are going to be the non paywall writers and the OGs will be behind the paywall with their articles.

I was on betamtb instagram and they posted about a SLX drivetrain review (which is just one of the 80,000 reviews on the f*cking internet currently for the SLX) and I go to the site and it's just a paywall and no article.... So you are advertising a long term review on a 2.5 year old drive train and you want me to pay for it? Hahaha f*ck such a strange time we live in.

But yeah interested to see how they do the PB one.
And no PB I am never gonna f*cking pay for someones opinion, I mean hell... my own mother doesn't want hear mine so...
  • 10 0
 Agreed. I don’t even bother with Beta anymore. I’m just here for the last few weeks of PB, I guess.
  • 5 0
 agree, already off cycling tips. pink bike will be in my rear view next. outside magazine used to be a decent airport read, that's the best i can say about it...
  • 7 0
 Just move to Vital with the rest of us. Pinkbike needs us, not the other way around. Their articles have been consistently the worst of any of the webpages out there. I'm only here as I have so many friends on the forums, the main page has been a mess for ages now.
  • 2 0
 @sherbet: agreed - Vital is the move , give those guys the support. PB doesn't appreciate it's base anymore.
  • 2 2
 Weren't MTB magazines subscription based for many years? Then they started giving away content for free online? Facebook and Google suck up almost every advertising dollar. I really have no problem subscribing to the mtb sites I like. Especially if it means their staff receive it instead of only the owners (which I have no way of verifying). Count me in for the eventual PB subscription. Unless their content starts sucking.
  • 2 0
 @pgm83: Yeah, wouldn't want the small family owned website to go under. They obviously need money to keep operating, it's not like 8 figure companies are paying them to review the product and then they're double dipping by getting payment from the people reading the reviews.

Pinkbike was doing well enough for itself that Outside WANTED to purchase it. It's already its own little goldmine. It doesn't need to exploit it's customers as well.
  • 1 2
 @sherbet: All I said was that I was likely willing to participate in a potential subscription model. Genuine question, how are you currently their customer?
  • 2 0
 I have subscribed in the past. I am a customer by giving them pageviews, which brings in companies that wish to use their platform as an ad space.

You don't have to pay to be a customer, just be a source of revenue. We're all that merely by being here. How else did they make their money for the previous decade before purchase?
  • 1 2
 @sherbet: I'm in a different industry so it's probably not an exact parallel, but the price tag of advertising on PB likely isn't as high as it was before. Facebook and Google are 'worth' more because they basically follow you all over your digital life with very targeted ads. They consume the advertising dollars spent. It's different than a banner ad on the PB website. You bring some value with page views (more so clicking on the ads), but it is measured in cents and often fractions of a cent. Subscriptions are measured in dollars. They have to balance many 'customers' in cents vs. far fewer in dollars. It's not a decision I would want to make, especially on a site with a very vocal commentary community.
  • 2 0
 This all comes out to a wash when we remember other websites are providing better journalism for free. At the end of the day, the question of value is the biggest contender to decide if a subscription is worth it. I strongly feel other websites, again going to endorse Vital here, are doing a better job than Pinkbike. Their reviews seem more fairly stated, with more nuance and more criticism.

Even with your point being stated, and yes, we're dealing with fractions of a cent for each user, there are hundreds of thousands/millions of us. Pinkbike stayed in business off this model of over a decade, so clearly the revenue being brought in was enough for them to continue to provide articles.
  • 1 2
 @sherbet: Even if that's the case, is it a sustainable business model now? I don't know. All I was saying was that I would likely consider paying a few bucks for what I am getting now. I'm already doing it for others and still have a couple of print magazine subscriptions too.

I also take issue with an earlier comment that suggests bike companies pay for reviews. They have been pretty vocal that brands don't pay for their bikes to be ridden by tech editors. How often has Kazimer said that in a comment reply? Do brands pay for trips and opportunities for their bikes to be ridden? Yes. But that's not something that contributes to the bottom line for PB.
  • 3 0
 If it wasn't a suitable business method currently, other websites currently doing what they are wouldn't be able to. Proof is in the pudding my dude. Bike companies do pay for reviews. This has been known for many years. It came out a while back that Specialized was paying over 25k USD for a review to reach a certain amount of people in an article view sense. Without acknowledging this fact, this conversation cannot go anywhere. You pay if you want. Others, such as myself, see issue with this. We're vocalizing our criticisms in a respectful way. You don't have to agree with us, but you can't really try to get us to stop for no reason. Cheers.
  • 1 1
 @sherbet: Would you be willing to provide a source for that fact?
  • 2 0
 It's been about 6/7 years, and cannot currently find it. There was a forum user that first posted it over. In short, a random blogger was accidentally sent an email from Specialized with some of the details regarding having the bike reviewed, which showed over 20k for the review. If you find it, link me away.

As it sits, you can be in disbelief about Pinkbike making money in a normal way, but it isn't changing anyone's opinion in this comment section. We all are aware.
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: That's a bit too dubious for me to acknowledge as a fact, thus I agree that I don't think the conversation could go anywhere. I do appreciate the respectful manner in which you are vocalizing your criticisms though. Happy riding!
  • 6 0
 eVent is garbage. The membrane becomes 2 way water porous in a season or 2 of use. I’ve nearly gone hypothermic when an eVent shell I’d only used for ski touring utterly failed to keep me dry on a heavy snow day.

The only membrane that lasts is Gore Tex.
  • 1 0
 Yes, I would not recommend eVent as an alternative for GoreTex. However, I have found eVent useful for sleeping bag stuff sacks. Are can permiate through the membrane but doesn't come back in. Makes it easier to stuff things in. But I would never use it as a shell, or in a boot.
  • 4 0
 Has anyone tried the new Five Ten trailcross shoes with goretex? Looking for a flat pedal alternative to all these waterproof clippers shoes

www.adidas.com/us/five-ten-trailcross-gore-tex-mountain-bike-shoes/S29146.html
  • 7 0
 Nsmb just reviewed them.
  • 2 0
 nsmb has a recent review on the GTX.
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: Didn't see that, thanks!
  • 1 0
 I've tried them. I'm riding them for a few weeks now, in the french south alps. I have to say that I'm a big fan of those shoes. I do agree with the nsmb review, I'm pretty thrilled too ! Hello creeks and puddles ! If I had to find some cons : they're not really breathable (but that's Gore Tex I guess) and they're pretty narrow, I had to upsize a bit.
  • 1 0
 I have a pair and they are fantastic. Dry warm feet. For full protection ideally wear trousers so water can't get in the top. Had several UK wet rides and not once has water got in.
  • 4 0
 I use them now for a month. Slipping in the shoe is annoying as the spat is very tight. When you have slipped in, make sure you won't close the spat too tight as the hem has a very hard rim which causes pressure marks on your ankle. Don't expect to have the same grip on flat pedals as with other FT shoes as the GTX is designed for hiking and biking. Due this, the stealth rubber sole has kind of a convex shape for good walking/hiking feature, but this is of disadvantage on a flat pedal as it doesn't generate the grip what you normally expect from a FT shoe. If your foot width is extremely wide, don't buy it as the shoe is Adidas-typically more narrow. The Gore-Tex is working perfectly. So my personal conclusion: This shoe is fine for easy riding. If you primarily ride steep, technical rough stuff, it will surely get to the limit and you should better buy the Impact Pro and put impregnation spray on it.
  • 1 0
 Literally your only option for a flat pedal winter shoe
  • 1 0
 Love mine, use them often in New England this time of year. Coupled with the Fox 3L Water pant/jacket/gloves I've ended very rainy rides completely dry underneath it all.
  • 1 0
 Bought but sent back. Like the look and seems like a solid design. Just didn't sit right on my feet though, and didn't want to assume that they would break in.
  • 1 0
 Looks waterproof but not warm particularly. Theres a Primaloft insulated version of Freerider - EPS version. Although that isnt GTX lined! Seems we can't have both as Flattys
  • 1 0
 All I know is just by the looks of this shoe's thickness, if it's the only thing that can keep my feet warm...I'm not riding that day, month or latitude.
  • 3 0
 Any chance for a comparison against the Specialized Defrosters? (and maybe throw in the Shimano MW7 for good measure?)

I've had my Defrosters for at least 8 years, maybe more (it's hard to keep track after a while). I like that I can use them for mountain biking starting in the +5°C range, and then use them for fatbiking as-is to -10°C. As it gets colder, I use my heated ski socks. As temps drop below -15°C I'll throw a neoprene bootie over top. All this to say, it's a nice modular system.

But my Defrosters are starting to show their age, and I've been looking around for their replacement. Ideally it would suit the same use case scenario (good on their own from 5°C to -10°C), and have a cleat slot that goes a little farther back.

Thoughts?
  • 2 0
 Lake has some fairly beefy shoes as well if you are shopping around.
  • 2 0
 For everyone that doesn't have a water bottle, with these you can just fill them to the brim with water round your foot and enjoy a nice refreshing drink when ever you want. (Will require removing a shoe each time.)
  • 4 0
 "You ever drink bailey's from a shoe?"

Also adding requisite "why no flat pedal version?" comment while I'm here.
  • 3 0
 "Easy now, fuzzy little man peach."
  • 1 0
 @KennyWatson: thank you for this.
  • 1 0
 I got a pair of their Gravita Versors at the beginning of the year, and they are starting to fall apart already. They are light, breathe really well and are very comfortable, but not impressed with the durability at all. I had a pair of Shimano AM5s before that and they are not damaged at all after 2+ years - they're boat anchors, though.
  • 1 0
 Waterproof and warm winter riding shoes is a revelation. I’m 10 rides in with my Shimano wm7’s. They also have Boa but I haven’t experienced any pinch points. Gore-tex FTW.
  • 2 0
 Those are the one you really want to get. I'd pick those.
  • 2 1
 It amazes me these companies don't bring out flat shoes that are waterproof. Adidas/five ten have with the gortex version and they have sold thousands. Everywhere I go most people are wearing them this winter.
  • 1 0
 Which model? I need some waterproof flat shoes
  • 2 0
 Just in time for WINTER!!
  • 1 0
 Fizik really is on the cutting edge of making bike clothing and apparel make us look like kooks.
  • 1 0
 Figure someone ought to have come up with a solution for cleat channels by now
  • 1 0
 To seal the channel? Silicon out of a tube, like bathroom sealant
  • 1 0
 Water enters via the sock like cuff and is trapped inside the shoe rendering the waterproof rating almost meaningless?
  • 1 0
 If we can have electric shifting, can't we have winter shoes with heated footbeds?
  • 1 0
 Therma-Cell, and they are bluetooth enabled as well to go with your AXS.
  • 2 0
 I can't believe the zipper would work well when it's covered in mud
  • 1 0
 Did others also noticed how [outside+] tag is not shown next to the commentators (customers) names?
  • 1 0
 The Artica X5 shoes are great for winter riding, so I imagine these are quite nice too.
  • 1 0
 Didn't realise eVent was still going.
  • 3 1
 #herebeforethepaywall
  • 1 3
 Oh Jesus! More clogs. Seems like there's a market for extra ugly shoes these days. Everyone now getting into MTB fashion for the money grab! LOL
  • 1 0
 $300 LOL!

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