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Shimano S-Phyre RC9 shoes review

25 Oct 2016

Everything you could want from a top end race shoe – stiff, light, sleek, and comfy

Shimano is not a company that makes upgrades to its high-end products flippantly or pointlessly. Its R321 shoe remained largely unchanged, save for a few style tweaks, at the top of its road shoe hierarchy and on the feet of many notable pros for a number of years.

The launch of the all new S-Phyre RC9 to usurp it then, is a big deal and as a big fan of the R321 I was keen to see how much Shimano could improve on it.

It’s not often that cycling shoes feel like slippers from the very first moment your feet slide into them. Even with a heat mouldable shoe – which interestingly these are not, a key departure from the R321 – there’s usually a breaking in process that takes a few rides before you feel completely comfortable and at one with them. That’s always been the case for me anyway.

Buy the Shimano S-Phyre RC9 shoes from Evans Cycles now

The S-Phyres felt super comfy straight out of the box, and being available in half sizes plus a wide fit option improves your chances of achieving the perfect fit.

The supple synthetic microfiber uppers conform to glove your foot from the get go and I felt they hit an fundamental sweet spot of structural support, weight and breathability.

I’ve experienced many road shoes that have focused too heavily on shaving every last gram and as a consequence have lost the vital structure to stop your foot from swimming around, leading to a sloppy feel, probable loss of power transfer and regularly resulting in hot spots and pressure points forming.

Not so with the S-Phyres. Despite a low weight – not the lightest but still very svelte at 254g (size 43.5) – the support offered by the upper is palpable and they deliver a solid feeling connection with your pedals, during both the push and pull phases of the pedal stroke, whilst also being breathable and airy in use. That said, they’re probably not the best choice for a chilly winter day.

Twin Boa dials

Backing up the fit and support of the upper is the new twin, independent Boa IP1 dials – another departure for Shimano, a brand that in the past has resolutely stuck to buckles and/or Velcro fastenings.

The Boas offer heaps of fine tuning of the fit at your fingertips, which is easily adjusted on the fly. Plus when you get back after a ride there’s no faffing on the doorstep, the dials simply pop up and release immediately.

Buy the Shimano S-Phyre RC9 shoes from Evans Cycles now

The S-Phyre’s also dry really fast after a wet ride and crucially it seems that the white uppers have, after weeks of varied weather conditions, resisted staining from road grime, cleaning up remarkably well.

There’s very little to fault, my only nit-pick would be the insoles. They are by no means uncomfortable and still offers some personalisation of the fit via interchangeable arch supports, but I’d say they feel less substantial than their predecessor, the Shimano custom fit version.

To finish on a high though, at least they come supplied with a pair of matching socks, and every one knows pulling on fresh socks is worth a few extra watts in feel-good-factor, all by itself.

Verdict: The S-Phyre RC9s are everything you could want from a top end race shoe – stiff, light, sleek, and above all really comfy and supportive. Shimano does a lot of things well, but especially shoes
Price: £299.99


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