The F-75 shoes feature a lightweight leather upper with nylon mesh patches to assist breathing. The sole is nylon with a carbon insert around the cleat area and rubber tread. This aims to bring carbon stiffness to the pedal area while keeping the rest of the sole flexible for comfort. The F-75 features an Atop Reel Knob lacing mechanism with similar functionality to systems like BOA. The toe area is held tight by a velcro strap. A fair selection of features at the asking price of R1,800.
The F-75 have been supremely comfortable from the first ride, which against greater wisdom was Die Burger 60km MTB race. From the start these shoes have been a fit and forget affair. On no occasion did I develop any hotspots or blisters. The nylon meshes did however let water in surprisingly easily.
The carbon insert worked as advertised. There was a noticeable stiffness around the cleat area while the rest of the sole displayed the usual nylon feel. Clipping in and out of with the F-75 was reasonably effortless. The tread channel around the shoes provided enough space and helped to guide the pedal towards the cleat.
The Atop Reel Knob lacing system, despite not having the same premium feel of other products, turned out to do the job adequately. Being an unknown component brand to me, I had my doubts initially, especially as I struggled to get the mechanism to loosen properly after the first few rides. But it seemed to bed-in and started to act as expected after a few rides. It was easy to adjust the laces to just the right tightness and the velcro toe strapped allowed for varying tightness around the toes (something I miss when wearing full single ratchet shoes).
Being an advocate of getting off the bike when riding at walking pace, I spent a fair time pushing my bike up steep hills in these shoes. This included much of Lesotho Sky, the Wines2Whales portage and lazy ascents to the Helderberg mast. The tread on the F-75 proved to be up to the task, feeling solid underfoot (for an XC shoe). But most importantly, the flexibility from the nylon sole ensured that the shoes were comfortable.
The F-75 has a functional look to it. We received the shiny white colour but the shoe is also available in black for those that prefer to avoid the disco look. That being said, I grew to like the audacity of the mud fouled white.
With new brands, there is often a question about quality and durability. After thousands of kilometres of mountain bike riding, any doubts for me in this regards have been dispelled. The uppers are mostly unscathed but they have picked up a bit of dirt. The only sign of proper use is on the soles which feature a number of scratches from walking over rocks. Even the washing guide and sizing label remains clearly visible inside the shoe. The only fault is damage to the rubber tread at the heel on the right foot shoe.
Weighing in at around 865 grams for the pair (size UK 11) with accumulated grime and dirt, the F-75 are not the lightest in this price range but are within range for a do-it-all cross country shoe.
In the end
The FLR F-75 is a reasonably priced shoe featuring a carbon insert around the cleat and a modern lacing system. The pair I tested proved to be very comfortable and robust. The looks might not be slick enough for the more fashion conscious, that aside the F-75 has proved to be a well-rounded shoe.