With a distinctive outsole that, at first glance, looks more like a climbing shoe than a cycling shoe, the UDOG Distanza Gravel Shoe is certainly unique. The color is very neutral and it had, what looked to be a wide-toe box, so as you might expect, I was intrigued.
I’ve been waiting a while for these, and now that they’re here, I thought I’d jot down my initial impressions before doing a full review where we’ll get into the weeds on these handsome devils.
Opening the Box
Inside the box is an included musette, which was a pleasant surprise. While picking the shoes up and looking at them, they seemed very well made, and the fit and finish looked really clean. I feel that opinions on the looks of these shoes may be polarizing, but I really dig the rugged look of them.
Besides the distinctive outsole, there was one really, kind of ingenious thing I noticed right off the bat… the lace keeper design was super clean. Not only is it super clean, it’s effortless to use.
For those of you that ride cycling shoes with laces, you know that most (all?) lace retention systems aren’t great, and leave a little to be desired. This one, however, does not.
Udog claims that the Distanza is the lightest shoe in the category, but upon my first handling of the shoes, I noticed that they weren’t feeling super light. The weight of my cycling shoe isn’t a big concern for me. But, if it is to you…they do offer a carbon-soled version in the Distanza Carbon.
They didn’t feel a lot lighter, if at all, than my Giro Privateers. The Privateers in size 45 without the cleat installed came in at 332g. The Distanza weighed in at 341g in a size 46, with the SPD cleat installed. A Shimano SPD cleat and bolts weighs 23g, so the Distanza is 318g in comparison.
How’d they Fit
When I first slipped them on and laced them up, the Distanza felt big. But, I attribute that to the feeling of freedom my toes finally have with the wide-toe box. So far, the fit feels great.
Although, I don’t have any real miles on them, the wide-toe box feels super comfortable and will surely be heavenly on the occasional hike-a-bikes.
On the inside of the deep heel cup of the Distanza, a little appliqué of tackiness helps keep your heel in place eliminating heel lift while out shredding. For the little bit that I had the shoes on, it worked well. I really noticed it off of the bike.
On the outside of each shoe, around the front of the arch of your foot, is part of a proprietary tensioning system that Udog calls TWS (Tension Wrap System). The TWS is supposedly part of the 16 points of contact that Udog created between the shoe’s upper and your feet.
But, the actual TWS are the straps that hug the metatarsal area of your foot when tightening your laces “from the instep to the bridge”. When trying to get it to tighten to see how it feels, I found it hard to get it to move by just tugging at the laces when tying my shoes.
I got it tight by pulling on the laces right after the strap, and I’ll tell you I didn’t like the way it feels and was not convinced of its claimed benefit. It honestly felt like it was going to create a hot spot before I even got on the bike.
I don’t know about you guys, but that area of my foot is where I get my hot spots and I keep it loose on my Privateers for that reason, it’s the last place I want to cinch down on my foot. More on this in the review.
The Distanzas Nylon Carbon sole isn’t overly stiff, although when wearing it to walk around, and riding a little with them, so far it feels plenty stiff. Obviously, as I get out there more with them and get some climbing and harder efforts, I will have more info for you in the full review.
Sizing and Retail
Udog says that their shoes fit true to size and that they use standard cycling sizes. “If you wear brands such as Specialized, fi’zi:k, or Giro all you have to do is choose the number you usually use.
Sizes range from 38 to 48.
Distanza Ash Grey: $200
Distanza Carbon Cinder Black: $275
I’m really looking forward to riding the crap outta these shoes. As of now, they look and feel like they can take it… we’ll see.