When creating a product insight, my aim is to provide a mix of research and experiential information. There are instances when friends are using the same product, and they help me to increase the level of information provided by contributing their own experiences. In this instance, my friend Astrid Schartmuller, a dedicated cyclist and accomplished amateur racer has kindly assisted me with this this article. Astrid is based in the Dolomites, in Italy making her cycling experiences frequently different to mine in the UK.
During the last few years my work environment has changed significantly and spending the day in formal shoes has become a thing of the past. Until this happened, I never realized how much the design of formal shoes was influencing the shape of my feet, but I am now at a point in which the majority my earlier footwear is no longer comfortable, as they now feel too small and the wrong shape.
This circumstance coincided with Q36.5 releasing their Unique shoe in both road and off-road formats. I decided to check out the road version.
As I get a little older, I’ve gone from wanting sexy high heels to wanting high end wheels! My cycling shoes must look good but must be comfortable too.
The technical features, and appearance of the shoe made them really appealing, and after trying for size, I chose to purchase a set. (A recent foot measure had identified size 43, and this corresponded with the size of Unique shoe that fitted well). When placing my foot inside the Unique shoe, there was an immediate difference compared to other cycling shoes I have used, in that the opening incorporates an elasticated fabric, instead of a tongue. This felt comfortable from the off. Q36.5 include a shoe horn, to make putting the shoes on even easier. Shoe closure is achieved via two Boa fastenings. These are positioned to enable fit and feel to be fine-tuned. The system fitted to the shoe enables a high level of micro adjustment.
Q36.5 incorporate what they term a “Power Wrap Support” into the upper. Although not visible, this feature really contributes to the overall feel and performance of the Unique shoe. I really like the Power Wrap and Boa combination, as the foot feels retained and supported, but not compressed.
The footbed of the Unique shoe is formed from high density foam also found in their chamois insert. I have friends who swap this for a custom footbed, but for me, I like this footbed, as its cushioned feel is another key component in how comfortable the shoe feels, throughout a ride. (When first using the shoe, I had a slight concern that the top of my toes were pressing against the interior of the shoe, this soon disappeared, as the memory foam feature of the insole took on the slight indentation of my foot).
Q36.5’s technical detail reads “The heel, the waist girth and the instep are very snug and precisely contour the feet, the toe box is comfortable and better follows the dynamic of the foot during the pedal strokes”. From a personal perspective, I have a narrow heel, but my feet are relatively wide in the toe area. The shape of the shoe, combined with the Boa fastenings seems to accommodate the variables in my feet.
My feet are also wide in the toe area, so like you, the shoe suits the shape of my feet.
The Boa fastenings are a nice feature, as they are really easy to set and also create ease of adjustment during the ride.
Q36.5 use a microfibre material to form the upper of the shoe. This being chosen, in part, due to the high level of breathability that this material provides. The upper also includes numerous small perforations, shaped to match the Dottore pattern which features in certain shorts and jerseys offered by Q36.5. A reflective insert is located at the rear of the shoe, which is feature I really value. The sole also includes a ventilation port.
Due to living in the UK, and travel being less straightforward due to Covid, my potential to use the shoe in very high temperatures has been curtailed. However, I have used the shoes in temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius, and have not felt discomfort from excessive warmth. Given the material and features incorporated into the shoe, I anticipate that overheating will not be an issue, when riding in hotter temperatures.
I can confirm that the shoe works well in hot conditions. The foot does not overheat, and the foot sole does not have a burning sensation. The elasticated fabric instead of a tongue, allows ventilation, so there is a fresh-air feeling.
The sole of the shoe is of carbon fibre, but its distinct feature is the vertebra like shape integrated into its form. This serves to retain stiffness whilst reducing weight. (Q36.5 quote 250 grams for a shoe in size 42).
Q36.5 also refer to this design as a means of reducing muscle fatigue and enhancing performance. Although I am unable to quantify this with data, all day comfort is a stand out feature of this shoe, and from a personal perspective anything to the contrary detracts from how well I ride, or enjoy being on the bike. Another benefit is that the heel pad is a replaceable component.
When using the Unique shoe, I have experienced my feet feeling fresh after many kilometres. This experience came when I did the test at Tour del’ Ortles, a Randonee of around 250km and an elevation of 5500m, including the famous Stelvio. Previously, after a few hours my feet would begin to hurt, and at the finish, I would want to get out of my road shoes. This time, my feet felt really fresh after 12 hours!. When your feet are relaxed you can keep pedalling throughout.
Why would I choose the Unique shoe over other road shoes? The Unique provides a perceivable level of performance and efficiency for a high-level road shoe, but the features incorporated by Q36.5 also help negate issues such as hot spots, numbness or pressure points, which I have experienced when using other shoes. From a personal perspective, I find the Unique shoes remain comfortable throughout the day, and I am keen add some of the other colour options to my collection.
The Unique Shoe in 2022
This year, Q36.5 have added additional colour options: Green and a Silver Edition also.
The Silver Edition includes an insole developed in partnership with Solestar, and it is designed to provide an optimum level of comfort and stability. The Boa dials are formed in aluminium rather than the high quality plastic dials used for the other shoes in the collection. I have been using the new insole for a number of weeks now. It has a less cushioned feel than the original footbed but I really like the support it provides, particularly when climbing.
If you would like any additional information about the Unique Shoe, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or head to https://www.q36-5.com/