At first glance the Shimano IC5 indoor shoes seem almost a gimmick, but they quickly demonstrated their abilities in terms of fit, comfort, breathability, and performance. They could be a gamechanger for riders upgrading from trainers. Just a shame they don't make them for men too.
No slip sole
Micro adjust fit
Women specific fit
Well this is a first. Other than specific bike brands (aka Liv (opens in new tab)) and sports bras (and cycling skorts, but I'm not sure anyone makes them at all anymore), it's rare to find a product within cycling that exists to serve the female market first. The Shimano IC5 indoor cycling shoes, with no male equivalent, break the mold.
There are actually two models in the range: (opens in new tab) the Shimano IC5 and IC3 indoor cycling shoes. While the model on test is the stiff-soled dedicated cycling shoe designed for performance, the IC3 version has a sports trainer like aesthetic and has been designed for those who want to walk to and from sessions in the same shoes.
These aren't just breathable road shoes suitable for a standard turbo thrash on the road bike, the SPD-compatible (opens in new tab) shoe fixings set them apart. With many spin bikes limited to SPD style pedals, this is a sensible choice for the intended user.
Flipping the shoe over reveals not just the two bolt cleat mounting system, but also a full-length rubber sole which Shimano say has been designed specifically for walking in comfort. It's a welcome addition. Obviously, as in indoor shoe, you're not walking far, but it does make moving around the bike a lot less perilous, especially post-ride when sweat and condensation can mean aquaplaning on shiny spin studio/wooden floors becomes a genuine risk.
With this life saving attribute however comes a weight penalty. Tipping the scales at 590g for the pair, 295g a piece, means that these are around 100g more than the afore mentioned Shimano RC5 for the equivalent sized shoe. Since you're not going to be riding up any mountains in these, this seems more than reasonable.
Under this rubber tread is a reinforced plate, which also runs the full length of the shoe. Shimano say that this provides stable power transfer, but it's worth noting that it ranks as a 5 out of 12 on the brand's own Outsole Stiffness Indicator scale.
To put that in perspective Shimano RC7 (opens in new tab) ranks a 10 and range-topping Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (opens in new tab) rank 12, so if these are your benchmarks, don't expect an out and out race shoe feel. When hitting a spinning session, I still want to feel like my effort is going somewhere, and for me, these could do with stiffening up a couple of notches. However, if you're going from a trainer to your first cycling shoe, you're going to wonder how you've ever managed without them, giving you a significant power upgrade.
Fit and comfort
Up-top, the Shimano IC5 indoor cycling shoes feature the brand's women's specific Dynalast, which specifically relates to the height of the toe-spring (the height of the front end of the shoe) as well as the overall shoe volume size.
Shimano believes that it's found the sweet spot between too high, which it says can cause increased tension in the plantar, calf and hamstring muscles, and too low, which the brand says creates an inefficient bow-legged action. The women's specific aspect relates to the shoes being narrower at the heel cup and coming in smaller sizes EU36 - 44, which equate to a UK size 3 to a 9.5.
The IC5 offers a breathable sock mesh upper. Add to this the soft cupping internals and it's not that dissimilar to a, dare I say it, triathlon shoe, ready to soak up moisture (although in this case doing a good job at preventing your feet from swimming in sweat rather than pool or sea water).
The synthetic leather wraps over, using a BOA L6 dial closure system. The off-centre fitting prevents any uncomfortable pressure points while allowing for microscopic adjustability with just one hand while still on the bike. The toe box is narrow and felt secure.
Fit wise, the shoes feel true to size. It's impossible to say that I specifically noticed the benefits of the 'just so' Dynalast toe spring height due to the flex of the sole, but the narrow heel cup was snug and prevented any heel slip.
I found these shoes to be really comfortable, feeling very secure, almost as if they were an extension of the bike as opposed to something on my feet.
Personally I don't suffer from cold feet. If anything, I'm one of the first to don an overshoe as soon as the mercury drops below 17degrees, but I appreciate for some, hot feet is a real issue, exacerbated by indoor cycling. To that end, the breathability offered by the Shimano IC5 indoor cycling shoes is about on par with riding outside. Taking the lack of airflow into account equals a decent amount of breathability, around the same a regular trainer, but obviously with all the significant benefits of opting for a specific cycling shoe.
But do I need them?
Yes, no and maybe.
If you're an avid spin session attendee and have been using trainers thus far, then these will definitely up your workout game, as well as possibly preventing a bruised backside when climbing off the bike and trying to walk on a wet slippery floor. They're breathable, very comfortable and very secure feeling and will be a marked improvement.
With many spinning bikes limited to SPD-compatible pedals, these will be well worth considering. Of course, you may already own a pair of gravel, mtb or touring shoes that run the same system, but these will leave a lot less mud on the studio floor or your carpet.
However, if you're looking for cooler indoor footwear for indoor virtual reality races on your own bike, you'll probably be frustrated, not only with the SPD pedal requirement, but the sole flex compared to a standard race-level shoe.
As to why they don't make them for men? I'm still unsure. Men spin right? I suspect there is a numbers thing in terms of bringing them to market for the opposite sex. While I'm tempted to start picking away the layers of that assumption, I'm impressed enough with the Shimano IC5 indoor cycling shoes to just feel it's a shame that there's a lot of men who would really benefit from a pair and they are, unfortunately, missing out.
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Hannah is Cycling Weekly’s longest-serving tech writer, having started with the magazine back in 2011. She has covered all things technical for both print and digital over multiple seasons representing CW at spring Classics, and Grand Tours and all races in between.
Hannah was a successful road and track racer herself, competing in UCI races all over Europe as well as in China, Pakistan and New Zealand.
For fun, she's ridden LEJOG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, won a 24-hour mountain bike race and tackled famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas.
She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.
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