The Shimano S-PHYRE has sought to lead the pack for years with crossover BOA lacing, a heel cup with unique construction to reduce twisting and slippage, and a continually-evolving approach to toe box structure.
Today, the S-PHYRE dropped again with the same DNA, bearing a high degree of similarity to its predecessor.
The anti-twist heel cup, developed with Shimano’s proprietary Bikefitting.com pedaling analyzer, still anchors the back end.
The RC903 heel cup “optimizes fit and foot stability, holding your heel in place to prevent movement during hard efforts,” the brand said. That’s a highly similar tone to the one it took two years ago when Tyler Benedict pointed out that a combination of rigid and flexible sections characterized it.
BOA lacing still cinches the shoe down, this time with a new pattern Shimano calls “refined” and updated Li2 dials. This new BOA lacing pattern is the most visible change to the shoe, with the somewhat bulky lace guides of the RC902 replaced by two sets of flexible lace guides at the toe. The perforated upper still seeks to help the shoe breathe. And the Dynalast shape also carries over from the RC902, which the brand said accommodated a wide range of foot shapes.
The women’s S-PHYRE RC903W has a lower volume, narrower fit, and a last “designed specifically for women.” Otherwise, the shoe’s identical to the men’s variant.
Adaptations and similarities relative to prior iterations aside, it’s still a world-class shoe — literally. Mathieu van der Poel, Primož Roglič, Romain Bardet, and Lorena Wiebes tested the S-PHYRE RC903, and Shimano said they’ll all wear it in upcoming races. It weighs 225 grams (claimed) in size 42 and costs $450 MSRP.