Shimano’s latest RX8 gravel bike shoes put XC race shoes on a diet to create more refined, featherweight solution for gravel bike racing. It’s not the first gravel shoes from Shimano – that could probably go to the lace-up XC5s or even the Explorer family – but this is Shimano getting serious about gravel from a proper race perspective, to align with their new GRX gravel-specific drivetrain…
Shimano RX8 lightweight gravel bike racing shoes
What do you actually want in a gravel bike shoe? We’ve already waded into the debate of whether gravel riding necessitates gravel-specific shoe in recent reviews: Do you want a road-like stiff pedaling platform, or a something more accustomed to walking around the bikepacking camp? But Shimano is narrowing gravel even more here to, what do you want for a gravel race shoe?
The efficiency of a light & stiff carbon-soled XC race shoe has been the most versatile choice. But even then, there is room for improvement, keeping what is most necessary & shedding everything extraneous…
The RX8 maintains the long-lasting rubber tread lugs, the stable heel design & stiff carbon composite sole construction of their premium lightweight XC9 cross-country mountain bike race shoes. That ensures plenty of pedaling efficiency & a secure fit for gravel racing, plus some off-the-bike walkability.
But gravel racing isn’t likely to ever need screw-in toe spikes, so those are gone. And since you aren’t going to be doing run-ups, that heel cup can actually be trimmed down without worrying about heel lift, again shedding grams. Finally, replacing one of the Boa dials off the XC shoes with a velcro strap across the forefoot works just as well since you do more pedaling than climbing in a gravel race, giving good fit adjustability for less weight.
The result is dropping 60-65g per shoe vs. the XC7 or XC9, for a claimed RX8 weight of 265g per shoe (size 42) with a single Boa IP1 micro adjust dial securing closure. You still get fresh-smelling Silvadur-infused insoles, a wide size 38-50 fit range, and silver or black camo color options. There will even be a navy blue camo RX8W version with a women-specific last as well.
The new RX8 gravel race shoes will sell for $250, and are set to be available starting in August 2019