Earlier this year Shimano added their top-level S-Phyre RC9 road shoes to their lifestyle gear line, promising pro-level performance in their lightest yet road shoe. While spending time clipped into the latest Dura-Ace pedals, we had a chance to see if the stiff carbon-soled shoes really delivered the whole road package.
Shimano S-Phyre RC9 carbon road bike shoes
The $400/360€ S-Phyre RC9 road shoes (and their mountain bike analog) debuted back at Eurobike 2016, but weren’t available until early last spring. Since then we’ve been riding in the new light weight shoes, paired with the new Dura-Ace SPD-SL pedals.
Tech Details & Actual Weights
With a pair of Boa dials and an incredibly flexible one-piece synthetic upper, Shimano’s new S-Phyre RC9 road shoes have a soft & close fit. The Teijin Avail upper fabric gets laser cut perforations to offer good breathability and holds it shape well over time, even when soaking wet. The Boa layout does take a bit to get used to. With one dial attached to the inside of the shoe, and the other to the outside, you have to get used to separately operating the dials.
Paired with a lightweight & super stiff carbon sole and more flexible plastic protection that wraps up around the heel, they make for an efficient connection to the pedals for good power transfer. The sole gets a large mesh-covered toe vent to further ventilation, plus a replaceable heel tread for long-term usability.
Shimano claims a weight of 232g per RC9 shoe. Our size 43 samples come in at 260g a piece, or at total of 591g for the pair with Shimano’s high 6° float yellow cleats installed. That’s reasonably light, but not close to some of the laced weight weenie offering out there these days.
Setup, Fit & Riding Impressions
The S-Phyre RC9 shoes are noticeably light & stiff on the foot, and with their asymmetric tongue and Boa dials they offer plenty of adjustment. The separate upper strap gives lots of movement cranking down tight even on low-volume feet. It also makes it easy to open the shoe very wide, which made them easy to get in and out of, but also let us open the shoe wide to dry out without having to pull the Boa wires out of their plastic guides. While the Teijin Avail upper didn’t absorb any water itself, the mesh inside did a bit, as did the semi-custom insole they come with. Both of which dried quickly.
The insoles are a departure from previous heat-moldable versions, but do allow for some adjustability with three levels of included instep shims. I opted for the yellow medium level of support and was happy riding from day one.
The synthetic construction vented well with all of the laser perforations, the sole vent & tongue mesh. But it also did a respectable job keeping road spray out (once I taped over the large sole toe opening.) I spent quite a bit of time riding these shoes in the wet & cool weather that plague the second half of my road riding this past year, and I really appreciated the wide fitting range of the S-Phyres. I could equally cinch them down over a thin, summer weight sock, or add in a thicker wool sock, or even opt for a fully waterproof sock liner like in the top photo. Always the flexible construction gave me a comfortable fit. And the stiff sole construction offered as much pedaling efficiency as I could hope for.
Hopefully I’ll get some more time in better weather on the road in 2018, so I can once again enjoy their ventilation.