Shimano RX8 SPD Shoe review

Shimano's dedicated gravel shoe is focussed on race like performance

(Image credit: James Bracey)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The emphasis is certainly on going fast and providing outstanding pedalling efficiency with the RX8. It's a great looking shoe and incredibly comfortable for longer offroad excursions although there are better options if you plan to do lots of walking.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Plenty of stiffness for pedalling efficiency

  • +

    Upper fit

  • +

    Offroad grip

  • +

    That finish

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Perhaps a bit too stiff for routes with lots of hike-a-bike

  • -

    Toe rand could be taller

  • -

    That finish

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Shimano's RX8 is designated as the company's first gravel oriented performance cycling shoe. As such it shares as much influence from Shimano's top road race shoes as it does it's MTB XC shoe line-up. As Shimano intends, this is a shoe more for going flat out than pathway pootling.

The RX8 has a very slim profile that signals its intentions almost straight out of the box with a low toe box and pared down heel cup. A single BOA IP1 dial performs the majority of the retention alongside a fairly redundant velcro strap at the toe end of the shoe.

The upper is made from the same synthetic leather that we found to be very soft and comfortable on the Shimano RC5 and RC7 road shoes tested previously and it conforms really well to your foot shape; even accommodating slightly more unusual lumps and bumps. Unlike the RC5, where we found the tongue needed plenty of tweaking to get it to sit comfortably, the RX8 tongue was comfortable from the off.

The best shoes for gravel and cyclocross

As with any Shimano shoe it's best to size up a little from your normal shoe size and the last is pretty medium, feeling neither too tight or too wide at the toe and with plenty of grip at the heel to prevent much unwanted heel lift. There is some but it isn't distracting or at a level that could cause blisters on extended pushes when the terrain gets too steep.

Grippy and stiff.
(Image credit: James Bracey)

The sole is constructed from a very stiff carbon that endows the RX8 with race shoe levels of pedalling efficiency but very little in the way of tuned flex. This does mean the RX8 is far better at performing on the bike than walking around off-bike. If you want a shoe better suited for more relaxed touring/gravel riding then Shimano's MT range would be a better fit.

The outsole is grippy and provides confidence when walking over rock and wet grass and the lugs are widely spaced to clear mud well. The RX8 would double up as an excellent cyclocross race shoe but does lack the ability to fit spikes at the toe. The only thing I would like to see would be a slightly taller toe rand, as it is the toe can get scuffed pretty quickly and this would help prevent damage and protect the toes a little more.

I've used the RX8 for multiple multi-day bikepacking trips as well as plenty of single day rides and have been very impressed with the level of comfort and pedalling stiffness. The anti-microbial insole and subtle venting has worked well to keep my feet cool, equally the more enclosed upper has helped keep mud and water at bay very well. They haven't been the best when having to push on steep sections of trail but this is a small price to pay for the efficiency and comfort on the bike.

Slimline, decent ventilation and a proper funky finish.
(Image credit: James Bracey)

Finally I have to mention the finish on the RX8. The silver foil/camo is pretty funky and makes it feel like you're wearing a couple of disco balls on your feet. I have to commend Shimano for pushing the envelope with this style, I like it. However, it won't suit everyone - if it's not your cup of tea the RX8 is also available in a much more subtle black finish. If the silver isn't flamboyant enough, Shimano is bringing out a green/purple fade that should attract all the attention.

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