Only What’s Necessary (OWN), is a British design duo, now based in Annecy, France, pushing to create something unique and functional in the world of mountain bike footwear. I’d seen hints of these shoes floating around cyber space and was really excited to get my hands on something that wasn't just your run-of-the-mill, same-as-every-other-pair, mountain bike shoes.Buy Shoes on
The FR-01 is a shoe you won't quickly forget, from the outset they have a unique vibe for a mountain bike specific shoe. The sturdy Kevlar toe and mid-height heel section would almost be at home in a smart casual suit set up, while the bright white OWN branded TPU heel harks more to a precision, performance road bike number. As a whole unit, however, the entire thing screams quality.
Inside the striking outer you are presented with two options. Either a summer style, breathable, quick-drying mesh liner sock or a winter, cold weather offering. Which is a weather resistant, fleece lined soft shell finished with a water resistant coating. Both liners are finished with an ergonomic D3O footbed, designed to increase comfort as well as impact protection. These removable inners also add to one of my favourite features of the shoe. Après ride, pull out the inners, hose everything down and locate in your favourite shoe drying area and wait not weeks, nor days, but in fact only a matter of hours. You can have a dry set of shoes to pull back on for your next ride in no time - I even found the drying time adequate while sat on the blowers on the dashboard of the van. Now, living in northern England, this is a revelation, and helps keep trench foot at bay! The first day of proper rain after summer marks the date you start riding wet shoes, right through until spring, as they simply never get the chance to properly dry out.
I’ve been using these for the winter months, so the bulk of my testing has been on the winter liner. I’ve been out in snow, hail, unavoidable bogs and even took on a few fast flowing rivers to find my way and have not yet been left in any discomfort and for the most part arrived back at the van with relatively dry socks and toasty toes.
The FR-01 is ordered in foot length, (I'm a 290mm for example), rather than a conventional sizing method, which is brilliant, as I for one do not have a clue what any other US, UK, European or otherwise sizing even means. On receiving the correct length shoe, I found the fit to be pretty snug. At first putting this down to a lifetime of wearing skate shoes and the associated widened feet, the shoe itself softened and moulded to an impressively accurate fit.
Another point to mention on the fit is the effort required to put these shoes on. I don’t really see this as a negative, just information to pass on, that could eliminate a repeat of my initial frustration. To get the snug, solid and secure feel you get from the shoe itself, something's got to give on a mid-top shoe.
My first wear of the FR-01 was an arduous journey, and they felt too tight. A lot of this I put down to a lazy attitude to footwear I’ve adopted over years of wearing sloppy trainer style riding shoes. By properly undoing the laces, and trusting the sturdy pull loops on the inner part to do their job, the shoes come to and the resulting comfort and secure feeling finished up with the moulded cup heel is totally worth it.
The sole has had just as much time spent on it, and the attention to detail is as equally on point as the rest of the shoe. In collaboration with Vibram, the sole is designed to be capable both on and off the bike and where I ride this is often put to the test. A large chunk of rides are a hike up and blast down. The DuraTek element used on the deep tread pattern in the toe is reminiscent of a classic fell shoe, if a little softened, but it’s a tried and tested design, and on the hikes, they felt solid, secure and perfectly able to take on both the wet mud and the slick rock. At the top, turned around, on the pedals and the Idrogrip sticky rubber came into play. Everyone knows the bar is set with Stealth rubber on shoes, but the OWN/Vibram collaborative design, combined with the firm fit and stiff base of the shoe made for a truly fantastic performing interface.
All in, these are a very well designed product, with distinctive looks and a top end use of the technologies available. All of this ticks boxes for me. The price tag is high, admittedly, but for a premium product, with innovative design coming out of a two-man studio that's to be expected. Look what you’re getting for your money, though: a four season product, that will keep you comfortable, warm, cool, dry, stable and flat out. I’ve only been running these shoes for a couple of months, but the build quality seems (like the rest of the shoe) to be the best available. If you can bring yourself to part with the money, I don’t think it will be a decision you will come to regret.
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Dan, Joe and Edgar