By Brandon Bilyeu
Vento Stabilita Carbon:
- Super stiff carbon sole
- Wider toe box than previous Fizik shoes
- New BOA Li2 dials
- Rear biased and slotted cleat mounting holes
- Adjustable arch support
- Very durable upper construction
- Adjustable arch support won’t work for everyone
- Stiff upper, limited venting
How obtained: review sample
Available: online, retail
Colors: Black/Yellow, Black/White, Black/Silver
Website: Vento Stabilita Carbon
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 6 months
Sizing: 36-48 (37-47 half sizes)
Fizik Vento Stabilita Carbon Sole Cycling Shoes and BOA Li2 Dials
BOA provided me the new Fizik Vento Stabilita Carbon shoes to test out their new Li2 dials. You can find the full BOA review here, but the short version is that the changes are subtle and they perform great. It turns out that the Stabilita is a very interesting shoe with new technologies and some Fizik tradition thrown out the window. Designed as racing shoes they certainly check all the performance boxes and come with the requisite high price.
The highlight feature of the Stabilita is the Dynamic Arch Support 2.0 technology. In the past Fizik has dabbled with incorporating arch support into the uppers and closure system of their shoes, but with 2.0 they made some big changes. Proper arch support is an important ingredient for foot stability that impacts both comfort and power output. Too many cycling shoes offer zero arch support, and while a visit to your local bike fitter is the best option, the Stabilita is certainly a step in the right direction.
Rick’s Shoe Criteria
Rick Shultz wrote the article How to Choose Cycling Shoes and I’ll quickly run through his three checks on the Stabilita shoes for reference:
- Slotted Cleat Mounting Holes – Yes! The Stabilita shoes have 10mm slots for an increased range of cleat mounting and compared to previous generation Fizik shoes the slots are biased further rearward.
- Twist Test – the Stabilita scores 10/10 on Fizik’s stiffness scale and I can confirm they are rock solid. I can’t detect any flex in hand or on foot.
- Width Test – the Stabilita carbon sole measures 93mm wide at the metatarsals for my size 44 which is 4mm wider than I measure on the older Fizik R1B UOMO. Fizik is (in)famous for its skinny and pointy-toed shoes, but the Stabilita departs from this tradition with a wider forefoot and less pointy toebox. The result is a fit that should be more friendly to a wider range of feet. The image below illustrates the wide and blunt toe box of the Stabilita (black) compared to the older R1B (white).
Dynamic Arch Support 2.0 – How It Works
The Stabilita uses two BOA Li2 dials, one at the forefoot and one at the midfoot/arch. In typical shoe construction, both dials connect the two sides of the shoe upper and pull them together to lock the foot in the shoe. In the Stabilita the midfoot dial attaches to a “V” strap that sits over the upper and wraps under the arch.
The “V” strap is anchored to the carbon sole, but the sole has a large cutout to put the V strap well underneath the arch of the foot. The result is that when you tighten the midfoot BOA dial the strap pulls up into the arch providing customized arch support while simultaneously locking the foot in the shoe. The material under the strap and the insole are both designed to flex for a smooth, wrinkle-free contact with the foot’s arch.
Dynamic Arch Support 2.0 – How It Feels
My feet have moderately high arches so I typically replace the included insoles to get sufficient arch support. When first putting on the Stabilita there is zero arch support, but when you start tightening the BOA dial you immediately feel the V strap engage in your arch. If you are not used to arch support in your shoes this will likely feel uncomfortable at first and you should start with some easy rides to get accustomed to the new support. The V strap is wide enough to spread the load so there are no pressure points and generally feels quite comfortable.
The included insoles are made of 3mm thick dense foam that is perforated for venting and slotted at the arch to allow flex. After 6 months of riding the insoles are still in great condition with no collapsing, which is good as you can’t use aftermarket insoles. I tried the Stabilita with several different pairs of insoles and the result was always the insole twisting and jamming up painfully into my arch.
This custom-fit to your unique arch is great, but the inherent connection between the arch support and shoe tightness means the effectiveness will be different for every user. If you prefer a loose fit then you will likely get sub-optimal support. For those that like to crank down their shoes, you may get way more arch support than is comfortable. I enjoy a snug fit and with my high arches the Stabilita worked well for me. I would strongly recommend trying them on before buying, but even then it will be difficult to know how they will feel after 3 hours on the bike.
Starting at the bottom, the full carbon sole is completely rigid with no discernable flex. Combined with the provided insoles I found comfort to be excellent with no harsh road buzz as is found on some super-stiff soles. The carbon scratches very easily which doesn’t look great but performance is unaffected.
The uppers are polyurethane laminated mesh that is pre-shaped, has zero stretch, and is quite stiff. A wraparound tongue design is used where the outside upper extends over the top of the foot and dives under the inside upper. The polyurethane is very tough and robust, still looking like new after 6 months of abuse. The stiffness means the uppers hold their shape well without any creasing or folding that can create pressure points, but also offer limited adjustment if your foot does not align well with the pre-shaped form. While the midfoot and arch fit was excellent for me, I was never able to snug down the toebox to my desired level.
Venting is average at best. The polyurethane is essentially waterproof and not breathable, with venting only possible through a sparse array of small holes in the uppers and a decent toe vent in the sole. My feet didn’t fry in these shoes, but at the same time, I never felt a nice cooling breeze come through.
And saving the most important detail for last — the heal pad is replaceable.
The unique Dynamic Arch Support 2.0 works well for me and means one less insole I have to buy, but I am a dataset of 1. I expect the fit and comfort of the Stabilita shoes will vary greatly from person to person. If you need arch support the Stabilita is a good option to look at, just be sure to try them on before buying. Hopefully, Fizik will trickle down this technology to more affordable shoes and maybe revisit the upper fit and venting.
Brandon Bilyeu is an avid recreational roadie who lives in Portland, Oregon, and enjoys road, track and ‘cross racing. He’s also a year-round bike commuter and is a mechanical design engineer by trade. Click to read Brandon’s full bio.