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On test: Vittoria Premium Carbon, January 14, 2009

A comfortable racer

The Vittoria Premium Carbon
(Click for larger image)

Vittoria's flagship buckled road shoe makes for a solid alternative to some better-known brands with its rigid pedaling platform and good long distance comfort according to Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown.

Vittoria has added two key features for the latest iteration of its top-end Premium Carbon road shoe: new Air Cushion padding for the main strap plus a completely redesigned carbon sole with an increased lateral cleat adjustment range and ample ventilation holes.

The Air Cushion padding does a good job of alleviating pressure from the main strap, even when cinched down tight and after several hours of riding. The fit is definitely snug in combination with the two forefoot Velcro straps and fairly stiff synthetic leather around the rear and there is little unwanted movement when pedaling hard.

Incoming or outgoing air has a lot of material to go through, however.
(Click for larger image)

Though the heel cup seems unusually wide from the exterior - and is more prone to crankarm rub as a result - it is suitably narrow inside and provides good heel hold. Vittoria also accommodates large- or small-volume feet with a three-position buckle anchor.

Vittoria naturally claims the ribbed 'Ultralight Carbon' sole is more rigid than before but any improvement from last year is nearly impossible to detect. Regardless, overall stiffness is what one would expect from a high-end full-carbon plate - which is to say very good - and the lightweight plate helps keep the Premium Carbon to a competitive 632g for our size 43 testers.

However, whether or not the sole's four newly added air vents help keep the foot's underside dry and cool is questionable. As with all sole vents, they are not directly oriented forwards so air isn't forced in very well. In the case of the Premium Carbon, any incoming air also still has to pass through the outermost mesh and felt-like shoe bed. However it is conceivable that the vents allow some heat to escape. Either way, it was not very noticeable.

Last year's carbon sole had no vents and more limited cleat adjustment.
(Click for larger image)

Thankfully, the airy upper largely makes up for this with its ample open nylon mesh up front and thin mesh tongue. Perforated sole or not, overall breathability was still very good even on hot summer days.

Small issues aside, the Vittoria Premium Carbon provides a snug fit, good overall breathability, true Italian construction quality and styling, plus a stiff carbon plate.

Price: US$250; €210
Weight: 632g (size 43)
Pros: Snug and comfortable fit, true 'made in Italy' construction and design, highly breathable upper, relatively lightweight, reasonable cost for a carbon-soled Italian shoe
Cons: Bulky heel cup, seemingly ineffective sole vents
Cyclingnews rating: Click for key to ratings
More information: www.vittoria-shoes.com


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Images by Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com