The Shimano S-Phyre shoe line is still relatively new, but it has been a revelation within the Shimano shoe line. Past Shimano shoes have given the brand a bit of a reputation as a purveyor of shoes that were clunky but comfy, unpleasant to look at yet effortlessly comfortable on a several-hour ride. They were shoes I loved to wear but hate to be seen in; my feet loved the roominess but the aesthete in me hated looking at. The Shimano S-Phyre RC901 shoe throws most of that out of the window, with distinctive looks to match the top-level performance.
The upper is made of Teijin Avail microfiber synthetic leather as with the previous S-Phyre shoe but is more perforated than before to improve ventilation. There are larger perforations around the ball of the foot to give a little extra give in a sensitive spot as well. Most of this comes because Shimano eliminated the oft-disliked mesh toe panel that creased when the forefoot was pulled tight. They say it's for aerodynamics, we say that it makes for a far better first impression, as the upper in white has a white pearlescent finish that gives the shoe a look befitting a top spec shoe like this one.
Also like the previous shoe is the “Surround” wraparound upper, which eliminates a traditional tongue to keep edges and potential hot spots to a minimum. There's also as Shimano’s unique “cat’s tongue” fabric on the inside heel, a single direction fabric that prevents heel slip. Feet are cinched down by two Boa IP1 dials and an external carbon fiber heel cup, dressed in a light bronze color.
The bottom of the shoe is highlighted by Shimano’s Dynalast outsole, which has a flatter profile than most other cycling shoes. The idea is that by reducing overall toe spring - the elevation of your shoe’s toe box above the ground - compared to other cycling shoes, riders experience less tension in the plantar, calf, and hamstring muscles. This carbon outsole is bonded directly to the upper, removing redundant material and reducing stack height compared to much of the competition.
There’s a massive 22 mm of fore and aft adjustment to the cleat mounting points, and a replaceable rubber heel for those who want to strut around in these shoes off the bike. After a fair bit of walking and riding in my pair of shoes, the rubber has worn down minimally, and the whole shoe looks to be in excellent shape.
Visually, these shoes do it for me, a welcome change of pace from previous Shimano shoes. But the reason I’ve stuck with Shimano for so long is the fit, and Shimano sticks to their guns here. They use a last that is one of the most accommodating shapes on the market, one that a vast majority of feet find comfort in, especially paired to the supple upper material of the S-Phyre shoe. I also dig the Surround upper, which envelops the foot better than nearly anything else I've tried. There is also the relaxed fit in comparison to other race-focused shoes, which hold to your upper foot with a gentle yet firm hold compared to the lock-at-all-costs feel of some other shoes.
The Shimano S-Phyre RC901 road shoe is a racing shoe through and through, but it approaches it in a typically-Shimano way. The accommodating toe box and comfy surround upper pair to a durable upper that looks great even after a fair bit of scrapes from my front wheel and walking on different surfaces. I’m confident in saying that the S-Phyre RC9 is just as appropriate on an all-day road ride as it is on the ProTour, only now the aesthete in me can wear these without any excuses.
We have the Shimano S-Phyre RC901 road shoe, as well as a range of Shimano shoes at our shop. Contact us during business hours by phone, or send us an email to email@example.com with any questions.
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