FLR F70 Pro MTB M250 Shoe
Matt Black Size 44 759g (inc studs) £109.99
The FLR F70 Pro MTB M250 Shoe in matt black is an aggressive cross country mountain bike shoe that also lends itself to competitive cross and whisper it, is aesthetically subtle enough to double as a road-going winter training shoe. The sole delivers excellent power transfer and excellent grip in most conditions.
That said, up to gravel and compliant enough for walking shorter distances, it’s very much a race shoe. Similarly, while the uppers have relaxed with a few hundred miles use, their profile is very narrow (and I have slender feet) which has ruled out most waterproof socks.
Pros: Stiff but supportive sole, seemingly rugged construction, blends in well with road biased builds (sans studs), easy adjustment and precise fit, decent specification for the money.
Cons: Very narrow- so worth trying for size and may prohibit waterproof socks. Better choices if you’re a gravel rider first, cross country mountain biker second.
What I’ve come to expect from this end of the market and not overly exotic but crucially, well put together. The Upper is made from a single piece of “premium microfibre” a high-quality synthetic hide and shaped with FLR’s Pro-Last which, apparently, conforms to the contours of the wearer’s foot. Satin black is the only option available to the UK market, but other colours are produced.
Faux leather uppers have some obvious advantages over genuine hides, although with basic care the latter will last many years and mould perfectly to the wearer’s feet. However, this takes time and sometimes many miles. On the flip-side, synthetic uppers tended not to breathe as well.
This was traditionally countered by large sections of mesh but tended to mean very wet feet in rainy, let alone muddy conditions. FLR has gone for a small mesh window on the top and perforated uppers and “breathable tongue” which seem a decent tag team. In common with similar designs, there’s a single, adjustable Velcro strap and a reel knob dial - a “Boa” type dial for quick and simple micro adjustment and even pressure across the foot.
In some respects, it's more intuitive than the Boa L6, if you’ve not used them before I.e., it tightens by dialling clockwise, loosens anti-clockwise. The Boa release by pulling the dial out. Either way, it saves time and could prevent more serious injury in a crash. Reinforcement around the toe-box promises some protection from stones and stubbed toes.
The OEM EVA foam inserts are fine and perforated for efficient moisture management but can be switched, say if you’re using an orthopaedic/custom footbed. The F70 uses the brand’s M250 outsole, which promises arch support that won’t deteriorate over time. It's made from reinforced nylon, which might lack carbon’s wow factor and weight saving but promises excellent rigidity and minimal maintenance.
As I’d expect from a dirt biased shoe, it features widely spaced lugs, TPU pads and removable studs for reliable grip in all conditions.
Being a twin-bolt design, no problems with the usual suspects, cleat-wise- Shimano (and patterns), Time and HT Leopard Clipless have all been fine.
I went the one size up on street shoes and the 44 were bang on, in most respects. However, I have long, slender feet and these came up very snug. More so than Shimano RX6 and similarly racy models. Not an issue per se and with regular cycling socks but pretty much ruled out waterproof models. Now, arguably you might be looking towards booties during the darker, damper months. However, I default to sporty touring and gravel/mtb shoes during winter where the added support and more aggressive sole improve my comfort and odds of remaining upright.
Power Transfer/Sole 4.25/5
I wasn’t surprised by its efficiency and again, ideally suited to dual sided XC SPDs, I’ve also found them an excellent fit with broader platform models, including Shimano PD-ED 500 , which are arguably orientated to commuting and touring. That aside, power transfer is more aggressive than the excellent Shimano RX6 gravel shoes, which isn’t a complete surprise, given gravel shoes tend to have a little more give to aid walking.
Back to the FLR and I’ve been happily turning 90-100 rpm for as long as my legs could spin and with no hint of hot spots around the balls, or arch areas of my feet. Power away in anger- say on a sudden climb, or breaking away at the lights (yes, I’ve taken them on regular tours of the concrete jungle), and the lack of flex was particularly clear and very welcome, but as I say, no trade off in the comfort stakes, at least in the saddle.
Now, not the most obvious choice for regular meanders off the bike, running- say when shouldering bikes through boggy sections of trail (I had been usefully soggy for the first couple of weeks of our test period) the lack of give was less comfortable, coming from gravel shoes and may be a consideration if you’re looking to race more technical ‘cross courses.
Similarly, the sole’s low profile is better suited to drier, firmer conditions rather than churned, boggy bridlepath. In common with similar patterns, the heel channel will trap pea-gravel and other small stones from time to time. Mildly annoying but hardly a deal-breaker in my book.
That said, the lugs offer good support and I’ve had no issues tottering around at rest stops, taking in the view etc. Continuing this narrative, the lugs offer reliable support and traction on wet surfaces-tarmac, or trail.
Tested in temperatures between 6 and 22 degrees, typically with merino/blended socks (although after 300 miles the upper relaxed sufficiently, allowing a thinner, cycling specific waterproof sock). The upper has managed rider generated heat surprisingly well-even after several hours’ effort. I switched to bespoke insoles after the 300mile marker, but the OEM has provided respectable moisture management and convincing, uniform support throughout my feet, helped in no small part by the Reel knob dial system.
We’ve had heavy thunderstorms and waterlogged roads and trails-perfect for assessing their water repellence. Wearing ordinary cycling socks- synthetic, hybrid, or polyester, the first big deep puddle engulfed the toe section and water raced straight through the mesh windows. However, despite some localised sogginess this wasn’t any worse than several other mtb race slippers I’ve used long term and, like-for-like fared better than the Shimano M701 GTX SPD Shoes.
Damp and drizzly conditions haven’t found their way through the mesh- at least for a couple of hours, so you should stand a sporting chance of getting back with dry feet.
I would be inclined toward a waterproof toe-cover during the cooler, wetter months, especially if you’re looking to run them as a road biased winter/training shoe. In comparable contexts, the Shimano MT701 GTX SPD shoes took 5 hours to dry at room temperature, the FLR around 3. Struck by stones and similar projectiles along unmade roads, the reinforced toe area has offered decent defence and allowed me to concentrate on the ride. On the flip side, in warmer conditions, the mesh windows have sucked in welcome amounts of cooling airflow.
Aside from giving them a blow over with bike wash, lathering up and rinsing with tepid water, I’ve given them the odd coating of Crankalicious Leather Lacquer to seal out the elements. In my experience, the uppers will give a little and flatter the foot’s contours, as has been the case with the RX6 but again, still hold their shape 750 miles in, there’s only trace evidence of wear. Spares are also available for the reel knob.
£109 though not small change isn’t particularly outlandish either for a race-orientated shoe. Scott Mtb Comp Boa reflective Shoes retail at £100 employ the boa closure system and the reflective technology doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb in daylight. However, the sole’s stiffness might lend them better to gravel and bike packing than aggressive/race orientated cross county mountain biking.
Specialized Recon1 mtb shoes are £99.99 and are a good benchmark, using the brand’s body geometry technology for a precise fit. However, the 3 strap closures arguably lacks the same precision as boa type closures and the sole stiffness is again, mid-point (6 on their chart).
Shimano XC501 are a bit dearer at £139.99, also employs a Boa L6 closure and Velcro strap tag team. Big S has gone for a perforated upper, rather than taking the mesh route and the toe box is similarly roomy. The sole is designed to strike a good balance between power transfer and comfortable walking a 7 on their scale (which is more flexible than the RX6 I’m so very fond of).
Ultimately, the FLR F70 are a very efficient, comfortable cross country race shoe ideally suited to dry, firmer trails rather than the depths of the British winter. I would’ve preferred a wider toe box, or perhaps a wide fit option. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t be inferred they are a one trick pony. There are better choices for gravel, bike packing and cyclo cross. Nonetheless, I’ve found them great for riding fixed and indeed, general off season road duties if you’re looking to take the scenic route or want greater traction/support during the winter months.
Verdict: 4/5 Competent cross-country shoes with good spec but wide fit option would be welcomed.
PUBLISHED JUNE 2023