Aimed at three distinct disciplines, Shimano's latest range of cycling shoes combine gravel, road and track-specific details alongside endorsements from some of cycling’s biggest names.
Kicking it off, is the S-Phyre RC9S. It’s released here as a Dura-Ace edition, which is ostensibly the Japanese brand’s top-end road shoe, the RC-902, dressed in a new colourway designed to resemble the look of its beloved groupset.
Shimano aims to achieve this by detailing the shoe with an enamel black surround wrap and gloss black heel cap. To add a little extra flair to this limited-edition shoe it comes with twin pearl metal BOA Li2 dials.
If matching your shoes to your groupset is the next ‘thing’ then the S-Phyre RCS9 is ahead of the game. But even if the link feels somewhat tenuous it’s hard not to be impressed by the sleek and stealthy look of the shoe.
Next up is the S-Phyre RC9T. Shimano has designed this premium track shoe for sprinters, time-trialists and crit racers. Which, in short, means it's been created to help you go fast; Shimano isn't the first to create a shoe this focused, Specialized launched the Ares sprinters option earlier this year with a similar remit.
To meet its goal, the S-Phyre RC9T is focused on maximizing power transfer and pedalling efficiency. Naturally then the RC9T features Shimano’s stiffest 12/12 carbon outsole as well as using an external heel cup designed to reduce twisting when you’re going flat out.
Stability is further achieved, Shimano say, thanks to a low-stack height that brings your foot closer to the pedal. Topping it off it’s added a BOA Li2 dial with a power boost lace guide and a velcro strap for track pedal usage.
Both the RC9S and RC9T use a Silvadur anti-bacterial treatment on the insole. Apparently when your feet begin to sweat it activates silver ions which reduce odour. Finally, both shoes fit firmly in the lightweight category, with the RC9S weighing in at 240 grams, while the RC9T shaves a further five grams off this total.
When it comes to performance credentials, the RC9 can boast significant representation in the pro peloton. World Tour teams Jumbo-Visma, Alpecin-Fenix and Team DSM are among those riding the shoes, including Jumbo’s main main and three-time Vuelta champ Primož Roglič.
Trickle-down technology has long been an industry buzzword. But unlike some marketing ploys, this has an obvious benefit to a broad range of consumers. Rather than selling us pro-level gear that dents the wallet without always delivering tangible benefits - or indeed benefits suited to weekend riders - trickling down technology to its more-affordable products allows us to enjoy the stuff we need with less of the stuff we don’t.
Shimano’s new RC7 shoe is one such example. The brand says it’s “infused with S-Phyre DNA’. So you get the same Dynalast fitting, dual BOA dials and a surround wrapping upper. But here it’s just delivered in a slightly cheaper package. The result is a pair of shoes that weighs about 20 grams more but arguably comes with a midsole, rated 10/12 for stiffness, that’s better suited to the average rider.
There’s also a new RC5 cycling shoe model too, which features a single BOA dial alongside velcro straps, and is available in a women’s specific fit.
Like the RC9, Shimano’s top-of-the-line gravel shoe, the RX8, also gets an update. It too is launched off the back of a strong showing at significant races, with ex-World Tour star Laurens ten Dam riding the shoes to a second place at Unbound in 2021.
Regarded as one of the toughest gravel races out there, the 200-miler hacks its way through the dust and dirt of Kansas. This landscape not only helped put the RX8 through its paces but also provided inspiration for the new colourways: the RX8 is offered in burnt bronze and yellow/gold desert-at-dusk versions.
Aside from the eye-catching colours, the RX8 seeks to deliver a lightweight shoe that can help save energy over long gravel events, while still being robust and comfortable.
To try and achieve this, Shimano blends a carbon composite sole with a toe protector and TPU lugs in the toe and heel area to aid walking when it’s time to hike-a-bike.
The upper is a one-piece affair made from synthetic leather that’s designed to be supple for all-day comfort. It’s perforated to aid temperature control, which alongside the Silvadur technology, should help keep the RX8 smelling relatively sweet even after 200-miles of dirt riding.
The RX8 weighs just 265 grams and is also available in a women’s specific version.
For details on all of Shimano’s new shoes, visit shimano.com
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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.