SHIMANO RC9 S-PHYRE ROAD CYCLING SHOES REVIEW
If I had one way to describe Shimano’s S-Phyre shoes, it would be like slipping on a pair of pillows and riding around. Except, those pillows also have incredible stiffness, power transfer, and a totally slip-free fit.
OK, I know my comparison is lame. But these shoes really do live up to all the hype you’ve heard, and they’re a great option for those of us with wider needs. Shimano’s standard sizes actually accommodate a wide foot, but their wide-width builds are incredibly roomy. The good news here for budget-conscious riders is that both the RC9 S-Phyres (shown above) and the less expensive RC7 models come in multiple width options.
Model Tested: RC9 S-Phyre in Blue
Price: $400 MSRP
Sizes Available: EU 36-50
Colors: Blue, White, Yellow, Black (limited availability)
FIT, FEATURES, NOTES
Shimano’s S-Phyre shoes are full of high-tech features that set them apart–and as the top-of-the-line shoe, that’s to be expected. The upper is made of a supple, stretch-resistant and highly breathable Teijin Avail microfiber synthetic leather. Which amounts to soft and comfortable. The double Boa closures allow for evenly distributed pressure and exact firmness when you really want all your effort to show in your wattage. Of course, these Boa dials have 3 functions: tighten, loosen, fully open.
If you’re worried about heel slippage, the cat’s tongue, silvery material at the heel helps to keep your foot in place. This did seem to keep my foot in a little more snugly, and I never had any problem with slipping at all.
If, for some reason, you’re throwing unwritten rules to the wind and wearing no-show socks, you will likely find this feature somewhat uncomfortable. But, moot point, right? Also, Shimano has created the perfect sock to go with the S-Phyre shoes. Which is tall–just like the Velominatti dictated.
HOW WELL DOES IT FIT?
In all honesty, I have never owned a more comfortable cycling shoe. The width is perfect for my triple-E foot, a numbness/hot spots are non-existent. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the ability to wiggle my toes even with the laces cranked down. Sweet.
The fit seems very true to size. Support is also fairly customizable with arch support inserts that allow you to adjust the feel of the insole to best fit your foot. These affix via a couple of velcro strips in the arch.
The upper already has that “broken in” feeling with a slight amount of give when you wiggle your toes, but not enough to affect power when you’re really kicking.
WHAT ELSE IS COOL?
Vents. And dimples. Cooling vents at the toes over and under, and dimples make air flow even faster around your feet. Finally, drainage holes at the toes and heel and through the insoles and outer soles allow water to move out of the shoe in wet conditions.
Or, if you’re like a friend of mine who hated to stop to pee on the bike, it will also drain other types of fluid that run down your leg. Except, gross.
Yah, don’t do that. He’s a weirdo.
A FEW CAVEATS
It’s difficult to find fault in the feather light and high tech S-Phyres–that is, assuming you ignore the $400 price tag. If your main question about these shoes is, “Are they worth it?” The short answer is, “Totes.”
Overall, I would note only two small shortcomings with these shoes: the price tag, which keeps it from being an automatic purchase for cyclists, and the tab style upper that holds one of the Boa dials. It has a tendency to flip all the way open when you release the Boa and the lace comes free from the tab.
A small annoyance, yes. But you’ll need to learn to finesse the upper dial so that you don’t lose your lace every time and have to loop the strap back in. I did this the first few times I rode with the shoes, but finally got it through my thick head to stop pulling the tab all the way open.
At the risk of sounding too much in love, I have to say that Shimano’s S-Phyres are definitely the best road shoes I have ever worn. The comfort is peerless, they are ultra light, and they look downright cool.
If you’re shopping for a top-tier cycling shoe, especially if you’re in need of a wide fit, try the S-Phyre. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, but still want a wide shoe, check out the RC7. Either way, you’ll likely end up pretty stoked.