An Italian Love Story

First, a little confession.  I think the Giro is a better race than le Tour.  My profile picture on TwoSpoke and Twitter is me with Dario Pegoretti.  The best meal I have ever had was in a small café outside of Rome.  My game room (I don‘t like the phrase “man cave”) displays my love of the Scuderia, including a life-size mannequin that I made to display an engineer‘s fire suit.  And I‘ll ride Campy as long as I am turning pedals.  So I can‘t really argue if I am accused of having an Italian bias.  But anyway…

Vittoria Cycling Shoes
Vittoria Cycling Shoes

Two things might surprise you about this review.  One is that it is a review of Italian cycling shoes that are not Sidi.  Second is that I am going to be telling you about a company named Vittoria that has nothing to do with tires.  In fact, the Vittoria shoe company is two weeks older than the Vittoria tire company.

Perhaps no phrase better describes Vittoria Cycling Shoes than modernly traditional.  Vittoria was founded in 1976 by Celestino Vercelli, who was himself a professional cyclist with multiple participations in Grand Tours.  Since 1976, Vittoria has pioneered many advancements throughout their history all while stressing high quality and remaining truly “handmade in Italy.”

Today you can get Vittoria shoes in a variety of customizations that are not available from the mass-produced big brands.  Do you need a different size left shoe than right?  No problem.  Do you want the fit and performance of a road shoe upper, but find the ultra-stiff road soles uncomfortable?  Vittoria can work with you on this.  Want a stiffer sole than a standard mountain shoe provides?  Talk to Vittoria.  And no, choosing to go the customized route won‘t mean that you will be waiting months for you shoes to arrive.  Vittoria strives for a 21 day turnaround from the time of order to delivery.

Vittoria Cycling Shoes Made in Biella
Vittoria Made in Biella

The past several months I have done my road and roller riding with the Vittoria Hora on my feet.  The Hora comes in just below the Hora Evo on the Vittoria road shoe hierarchy.  As you might have noticed, I‘m pretty fond of red, white, and black with regards to my cycling gear, and the main reason I chose the Hora over the Hora Evo was because of the red with white and black highlights color option of the Hora.

The sizing (45.5) seems to run true as this is now the fifth brand of cycling shoes covering road and mountain to provide a perfect fit.  Straight out of the box, I was impressed by the finish and build quality of the shoes.  I also noticed more padding in the tongue and heel areas than I am used to.  I was glad to see that the insole actually appeared to be worthy of being in a shoe that is both not cheap and designed for a sporting activity.  I have been very surprised in the past to see insoles on $400+ cycling shoes that look like a 10 cent cardboard cutout.

As is often the case with top-quality leather footwear, these shoes are getting better with age.  The suppleness of the leather is continuing to increase with usage.  After about a month of riding, I noticed the inside of the upper was conforming to the shape of my foot.   The insole has also formed to my foot with usage.   Over the first month, I learned other fit tweaks available on the Hora that allow a truly custom fit.  The soft instep closure pad can be moved laterally, allowing you to fine tune the contact points across the top of your foot.  In addition, the ratchet buckle for this closure system can be set in one of three positions to better accommodate differing foot widths.  The lateral placement of the tongue can be set prior to adjusting the cable closure.  The cable closure system provides fine levels of adjustment to get the fit just right.  The cable provides an even pressure distribution across the top of the foot, especially noticeable in high wattage outputs.  My previous shoes touted a special heel retention system to prevent movement in such scenarios, but the overall fit of the Hora showed this type of system would be redundant in a well-fitting shoe.  The ingenious rotary adjuster for the cable allows quick setting of the cable tension.  The ease of use of the rotary adjuster not only makes finding the right fit simple, it makes on-the-bike tweaks quick and convenient as well.

Vittoria Cycling Shoes
Flashlight demonstrating ventilation

I have not ridden these shoes in sweltering temperatures yet.  However, the shoes are well ventilated, and I anticipate they will be quite cool when the mercury rises.  As shown in the photographs, the ventilation points are highlighted using a flashlight in a dark room.  Ventilation not only is provided in the toebox but also on the sides of the shoe, the sole, and the heel.  Looking at the heel, the wire mesh structure between the heel padding and molded plastic exterior forms a pocket that envelops nearly the entire heel, making for what looks to be a quite effective area for the heat to escape.

Vittoria shoes have been worn by cycling superstars such as Marco Pantani and Thor Hushovd.  You can see them this year on the feet of the Vanderkitten Athletics women‘s team.  Guys, if you browse to their site to see for yourself, don‘t forget to actually look at their feet.  And if you want to see the shoes and my far-less-sexy legs, check out this short video here.

Vittoria‘s product range covers road and mountain shoes.  It also covers a variety of budgets from the $125 MSG to the $490 Hora Evo.  Be assured that Vittoria has the right shoe for you.  If you don‘t see exactly what you are looking for, contact them.  Don‘t fret; Vittoria is not the type of company that wants to review your palmarés before helping you out.

Even if you are not a die-hard Tifosi, and pizza is all you know about Italy, you won‘t be able to not be impressed when you put on a pair of Vittoria‘s shoes.  Give them a shot and find out just what pride, craftsmanship, and handmade in Italy feels like.  That‘s amore!

– Alex (Steak Sauce)

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Robb Wilcox

Very very nice. Hope they have black and yellow.

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