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

courtesy Shimano, photo by Wouter Roosenboom

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.



  1. mech9 on

    Real World Review:These shoes are overpriced for what you get. I’ve been running them for a few months and here’s what is good/bad
    – Styling (subjective i know)
    – heel cup grip (the heel grip has this sharkskin type material that really hangs on.)
    – stiff sole

    – Durability (mine are already falling apart)
    – The boa’s suck in relation to other boa’s I’ve used on many other products. 1. sometimes when you ratchet they don’t actually grab the cable. 2. when you pop open the boa to release the cable to take the shoe off the routing of the cable on the bottom boa does NOT let the cable loose. So basically the bottom boa is useless as far as releasing the cable. This happens on both mountain and road versions. The top boa does the opposite. The stupid top flap will pop, then you can open the top but there’s so much slack at this point that the cable always comes off on the bottom d-ring it loops around. More issues with the boa are the micro adjustments. They are basically non existent on these boa.s
    – Design. The top flap is retarded how they did this. It comes up to high on the foot and digs into your front leg. Also the cable routing of that top loop opens up so much that your ratchet forever to get it tight again (this one is a first world problem but whatever)
    – The outer material is almost too flexy. It seems like the flex of the outer material allows for energy that would be normally directed to the pedal to be dispersed because of flex of the material around the rest of the shoe.
    – Weight. put them on the scale when you get them. Each shoe is about 20g more than what they advertise.

    Before you call me a hater, I love previous version of shimano shoes. I saw these and was really excited and liked the looks. I’ve rode giro, specialized, shimano, pearl, and giant shoes. At 400 and these issues i’ll be heading back over to specialized.

    Hope this helps some.

    • NDE on

      I have not had the same problems with mine that you have. Maybe contact Shimano about getting replacement BOAs since mine work great.

      I will say, I can’t understand the way Cory has the materiel all bunched up under the top strap. That would drive me nuts! I never have that issue or the tongue pushing into my legs. Guess everyone’s foot will fit differently.

      • Cory Benson on

        Hmm… yeah, looking at that pic I see what you mean. That would actually bug me too. I think I just had the shoe still a bit too loose in that photo at the start of a cold, wet ride with a regular sock plus a waterproof oversock. The foot position bunched the tongue up under the top strap. Once I was pedaling, I likely tightened the shoe properly and the flexible material went back where it belonged.

  2. CyclistA on

    Have mine for about 14 months (7,000+ miles) and still going strong. Aside from a couple of marks from toe overlap, they look really good for used white shoes. I find the material cleans easily, but the little vent holes can use a little help from a toothbrush to get them super clean. I also bought the mtb version and find those slightly more comfortable, not sure why. All in all I give them a 9.5 out of 10.

  3. john on

    Few athletes on our team have ripped them apart during crit. Great shoe, just dont scrap it or it will self destruct. Im a big fan of shimano shoes but the leather used is just minimal

  4. Bill on

    I got the MTB version of these this past fall. I can see them maybe working out on the road, but as someone who’s always loved shimano’s shoes I utterly hated those shoes. There’s a certain point where stiffness/no tread grip just makes an off road shoe pointless. I also did not like that shark tooth strip on the ankle, it ended up destroying socks unless I had the shoes so tight I couldn’t move in them. Beautiful shoes – especially in the shimano blue, but I think they needed a little more real life testing before they hit the market.

  5. David on

    I just got mine and I’m not totally happy. The insole has a bump where the front-end of the arch support ends. It’s just behind the ball of my foot and feels terrible. I can’t seem to get the right combination of arch support and my right foot got numb after only 16 miles. I might have had them too tight, not sure yet. I really need an alternative insole or these are going back.

    • Mirković Miloš on

      Hello David, what happened to your situation? Did it solve itself or you ended up returning the shoes?

      • Erika Sosa on

        I have the sane problem. I can’t find a right combination or cleat and arch support to avoid my feet from going numb. It’s so painful.

  6. Mick McConnell on

    I’ve got the MTB ones and they’re superb for CX. I think the shoe last is different for MTB and Road. The uppers appear to be the same, but the MTB shoe is flatter on the base (you can see the difference when you turn them both upside down and lay them side by side). Shoes are always personal things – but the MTB versions are superb for me, but I’m fearful that the road versions would have too much arch.

    They squeak on the road when riding which I think is a pedal / shoe interface issue but I haven’t spent enough time trying to sort it out to figure out where the fault lies – it happened with my previous shoes too and it’s not bottom bracket related (XTR XC pedals).

    Durability hasn’t been an issue for me and I thrash them CX racing – though I do clean them everytime.


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