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First Look: UDOG Distanza, a Gravel Shoe That Looks Like a Climbing Shoe?

UDOG Distanza Gravel Shoe hero in the dirtPhoto c. R. Frazelle
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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.

As you may have read in my other shoe reviews, I prefer laces over most other shoe fastening gimmicks, as it offers infinite adjustment points to get the feel and fit just right.

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

UDOG Distanza Gravel Shoe in the box
Photo c. R.Frazelle

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 Distanza Gravel Shoe Distanza weight

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.

UDOG Distanza Gravel Shoe giro privateer weight
Giro Privateer

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.

UDOG Distanza Gravel Shoe TWS straps
Part of the TWS

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.

UDOG Distanza Gravel Shoe difining outsole

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.

Stay tuned!


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8 months ago

I wonder if you could bypass the tension wrap altogether and tuck the ends into the midsole.

8 months ago

“If you wear brands such as Specialized, fi’zi:k, or Giro all you have to do is choose the number you usually use.”

Wut. Those 3 brands have completely different sizing. Specialized are way bigger. Fizik are tiny and very narrow with huge toe spring. Giro somewhere in between.

8 months ago

I feel like road racing shoes look more like “climbing shoes” than these, but a different look for sure. Maybe “trail runners”? The marketing is very important.

8 months ago

Hey Ron – what would you say is the width of your forefoot? Narrow? Average? Wide?
I ask because I’ve seen mixed reviews on the width of these shoes. You are the second person to claim they are “wide” while one review called them very narrow.
Thank you in advance for any clarification.

4 months ago

Unfortunately, after only 6 months of Gravel use with some bike/hiking trips, the sole in the front part was completely worn out, exposing the carbon part. I contacted customer service and was denied any form of warranty (replacement or repair). I am well aware of the careful use I have had given the initial cost; for this reason I would not recommend these shoes for Gravel or MTB use but only as road shoes or for Sunday walks.

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