Light, superstiff top of the range road shoes from Shimano’s new soft goods sub-brand featuring a number of performance enhancing features, including Boa technology
S-Phyre (pronounced S-Fire) is the Japanese company’s new top of the range brand for soft goods – think of it as the Dura Ace for shoes and clothing under the Shimano brand.
Shimano’s shoe range has been getting better and better over the last few years. Reviews have been increasingly and consistently positive as the company has made a big effort to up their game on footwear. My own “go to” shoes are now the Shimano RP9 endurance shoes, that I’ve found terrific to ride in.
With the S-Phyre RC9 shoes, Shimano are both launching a new brand and seeking to push their shoes range up to a new level. To do this, the RC9’s feature some new developments to increase the performance of these shoes. Given that Shimano shoes are generally so good now, moving to the next level is no mean feat.
Firstly the outer is one piece made from “supple, stretch-resistant” Teijin Avail microfibre synthetic leather. The outer also features dimples for ventilation and drainage.
The construction of the shoes sees the elimination of a lasting board, which reduces weight but also the stack height – which you may need to note if switching from other shoes. Shimano describe the carbon sole as ultra-rigid with a maximum stiffness score of 12, which you’d expect from any top end race shoe.
The size 44 shoes I have here weighed around 270 grammes each. Compared to other size 44 shoes I have here, the S-Phyres feel like a snug fit but they’re brand new and this could change with more mileage.
The Boa system is a pleasure to use and makes is incredibly easy to dial exactly the right firmness on your feet, whilst also being incredibly easy to get off your feet.
On one 80km ride, I found the stiffness of the shoes very noticeable on the bike and also the weigh they hold onto your heel is also very much improved over other shoes I’ve ridden. The great hold of your heel may be down to the design of the shoes incorporating an external heel cup. It was certainly a noticeable difference to the RP9’s I normally ride.
Shimano have also extended the range of cleat adjustment on the shoes and I found it quite simple to put new cleats on and get them into the right position. In case it’s helpful, I do this by doing a rough visual alignment with existing shoes, then I jump on the turbo trainer and ride both existing and the new shoes, stopping and adusting the new cleats until the position feels the same. It’s not more than a 10 minute job.
Back to the riding and the first 20-40km and the shoes felt as stiff as a board but the insole.
As you’d expect from a top of the range product, the S-Phyre shoes come in premium packaging. What you probably wouldn’t expect is that the come with special S-Phyre socks to match the shoes. The socks aren’t going to win any “sock doping” competitions but on a first ride they seemed to fit well and were comfortable.
Also in the box are two sets of foam arch support wedges to help you fine tune your fit. You can also order these shoes in standard or wider fit so most people should be able to find a good fit. I’ve always found Shimano shoes to fit well.
The S-Phyres make a good first impression – I like the clean and purposeful aesthetics, they’re definitely super stiff and the new Boa closure system is a delight – even on a first ride. Initially they’re definitely a race shoe – very firm and great power transfer. I’ll look forward to getting more miles in on them to see how the comfort side of things settles out.
If you’d like to look at more of the specs, you can see these shoes on the Shimano website here
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