Shimano RC7 cycling shoes review
Shimano's RC7 kicks provide many of the features we look for in top end shoes, but at a more manageable price point
An excellent pair of cycling shoes with a well balanced carbon sole. The dual Boa dials spread tension nicely to provide good fit without pressure spots. There is a lot of ventilation on offer - which will bode well in summer but you may need to bolster your overshoe approach in winter.
Very breathable (in summer)
Value for money
Very breathable (in winter)
The Shimano RC7 cycling shoes were selected for an Editor's Choice award in 2020. This year's list contains 78 items which scored a 9 or 10/10 with our tech team - this gear is the best of the best, and has received the Cycling Weekly stamp of approval.
One of my major gripes with the cycling industry is that it sometimes seems that shoe manufacturer believe that a person's dedication to cycling and the bone structure of their feet are interrelated properties. The more performance driven shoes become, the narrower they seem to be. I was relieved to discover that Shimano's RC7 cycling shoes show no hint of this distorted logic.
Sliding my foot into a pair of Shimano RC7 shoes, I was pleasantly surprised to find there was plenty of wiggle room for my toes. I have relatively wide feet, with narrow ankles, so often when a shoe fits at the front I'll find heel slip at the rear. In this case, the padded rear kept me well locked in.
At the top, there are two Boa L6 dials. This L6 step on the Boa ladder provides you with incremental tightening via a clockwise turning mechanism, but to loosen the dial off you pull to release all the way. This is fine for most riders, only those racing at a high level - who might want to loosen incrementally on the move - really need anything more.
The dual dial system is a progression from the last pair of RC7 shoes we trialled, back in 2017, when there was just one dial and a Velcro strap. The duo approach spreads the tension across the synthetic leather upper, and provided me with a great fit.
Shimano has provided a full carbon sole at the price point. Whilst it is far from alone in this, there are competitors providing a carbon/nylon or carbon/fiberglass mix.
The sole comes up on Shimano's 'Stiffness Index' as a 10, only two down from the Editor's Choice winning S-Phyre RC9. Putting the shoes to the test in the town sign sprint during a Cycling Weekly lunch time ride, power transfer felt spot on, and on the flipside I never experienced discomfort of vibration that can occur in an overly stiff base.
This shoe also features Shimano's 'Dynalast' technology. The goal is to provide an optimised toe-spring section, creating a more efficient upstroke by reducing the loss of power than can occur between the 200 and 360º crank angles. Shimano has attempted to find the balance between building a toe-spring section which is too high (can create tension in the plantar, calf, and hamstrings) and too low (can result in inefficient pedalling form).
This is the sort of optimisation that you might notice whilst straining at the Wattbike screen trying to draw a peanut. I can't say I noticed it in day-to-day riding, but you could argue that the difference could add up over long hours in the saddle.
The synthetic leather upper - available in black, white, or a swanky red fade - has a suppleness to it, with a truly stunning oil slick effect which I loved. The first toe scuff wiped off easily, too.
Shimano has gone big on breathability - there's small perforations all along the body of the shoe, with additional venting one the tongue and a metal grated vent at the sole. I can see this going down very well, in summer. In winter, even with neoprene overshoes on, I noticed a draft. This is easily fixed with a toe cover placed underneath the overshoe, but it's not something I've had to do before.
At the sole, there's a handy scale to make mounting cleats easier.
Technically, these are classed as "men's (or unisex) shoes", but sizes start at 38, maxing out at 50, with half sizes available in some options. Shimano does create some female specific shoes, with sizes starting at 36. Unfortunately, the range topping model there is the RC5 (£139.99 / $125), with a carbon fiber reinforced nylon sole and a stiffness index of 8. Personally, I've ridden both men's/unisex shoes and women's shoes with no issue on either side - but if you happen to have feet smaller than a size 38, that's not much help.
Whilst in standard shoes I tend to wear a size 5 or 6 (38/39), in many cycling shoe brands I size up to a 40 - and this approach provided the right fit for me, though I could perhaps have gone down to a 39 for a closer foot hug - Shimano's offering came up more roomy that the likes of Fizik and Giro.
My pair came in at 234g per shoe. For the sake of fair comparison, a size 42.5 has a claimed weight of 245g. This places the RC7s at a reasonable middle ground against other options on the market.
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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.
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