Product Review: Nike Poggio III
I am a traditionalist at heart. For the past ten years, I have ridden Italian bikes equipped with very well known Italian components I know what I like and what suits me. It is the same with shoes. I have narrow feet so I have spent just as long wearing Italian shoes as they generally have a narrower cut and give me a more secure and comfortable fit.
2005 has however, been somewhat of a landmark for me. Out has gone the Italian bike and in its place has come a full carbon, Dura Ace loaded, beast of a machine. A brave move but one that was necessary. I now feel like I have taken the first intrepid steps into a new world. So much so that when Roadcycling.com asked me if I would like to review a pair of the new Nike Poggio III shoes, well, how could I refuse?
If it ain?t broken, don?t fix it. It is probably this attitude that has kept me loyal to a particular brand and style of shoes for such a long time and one of the reasons I had never really spent too much time admiring the Nike collection. Sure, I knew Lance had his own design and others in the pro peloton wearing the shoes included current World time trial champion, Michael Rogers. That aside, Nike and the inroads that they had made into the world of cycling shoes were quite foreign to me so it was quite a pleasant surprise when the Poggio III?s arrived in my mailbox.
First impressions can often make or break a relationship and what an impression these shoes make. Pulling the Nike Poggio III?s from their box, the first thing that struck me was how shiny they were. Shiny silver straps, shiny silver toes, shiny silver period. For anybody who likes to catch the odd admiring glance, the Poggio III?s are THE shoe for you! The soles are full carbon, a now standard feature on most top-end racing shoes, ensuring the maximum transfer of power from your legs directly through the shoes to the cranks. Arriving with the shoes is a shoe bag, a nice little touch from Nike and one that would prove popular with everybody who after a wet race, would normally just throw their shoes in their bag with the rest of their dirty race clothing.
After experimentation with various closure systems, manufacturers now seem to have settled on two tried and tested designs; the triple Velcro closure or double Velcro closure coupled with a lock mechanism. My personal preference has always been for the triple strap, a feature of the Poggio III?s, and one that I have always found has enabled me to engage a more snug fit. A quite unusual feature of these straps however is that rather than fastening directly over the top of the shoe, from side to side, the straps on the Poggio III?s actually follow the contours of the foot and curve over the top, around the opposite side. Fastening the shoes, this certainly does not appear to have any detrimental effect on the closure and in fact, probably does enhance the fit. Across the top of the shoe, below the straps, is a stretchy sock, as opposed to a more traditional leather tongue, further adding to the comfort of the Poggio III?s.
On the feet, the shoes feel great. Most importantly, for anybody looking for a pair of high performance shoes, the Poggio III?s are very rigid, with no obvious flexing in the sole. Once clipped into the pedals, they continued to perform , as you would expect from a shoe used by professional riders the world over, and after a few hundred kilometres of riding, I still have not experienced the dull ache in my feet that is often associated with new carbon soled shoes. A complaint that can often be overcome by simply adding a padded insole into the shoe.
The original fears I had about whether the Poggio III?s would be too wide for a secure fit for my narrow feet did at first appear to be justified when I slipped the shoes on. The designers at Nike however must be onto something. As soon as I fastened those curved straps, the shoes were pulled into place and fitted my feet just as securely as a tried and tested pair of my favourite Italian shoes.
Overall, I?m very impressed. The Nike Poggio III is clearly a high performance shoe and does everything that you would expect at this end of the market. Light, rigid and with a great looking design, the Poggio III is certainly a nice shoe and one worth considering the next time you go shopping. I suppose the only thing that may detract some customers is that oh so shiny silver finish. Still, you cannot please everyone...
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