The Shimano Rc9 Spd-sl S-phyre Road Shoes are the very top of the Shimano range. Having worn a few pairs of shimano shoes we were excited to get these out for a spin. The self acclaimed pinnacle of road competition footwear; Super light, incredibly fast, close to the action. Power transmission comes first with the new S-PHYRE Rc9 road competition shoe.
Retailing at £319.99. And it’s not a typo. You’d expect these shoes to near enough ride the bike for you. Good luck getting these ones past your partner hidden on the bank statement. By far the most expensive shoes we’ve tested, we had incredibly high hopes for the shoe. If the price is anything to go by, we were slightly disappointed they didn’t arrive gold plated and with a butler.
Well they come with a new shiny tag line if nothing else. Shimano have stated the S-Phyre Rc9 ‘connects your leg, foot, sock and shoe with a unique linkage effect that transfers every last watt while treating your toes to a comfortable fit. Because when you’re suffering for glory, the last thing you want is a shoe that’s not contributing to the effort.’ Well they’ve hooked me!
Supple, stretch-resistant and highly-breathable Teijin Avail microfiber synthetic leather, optimised with dimple perforated drainage/vent holes. Hugging the foot and allowing the upper to have the sleek, one piece design you can see today.
Similar to the Pearl Izumi Pro Leader III, Shimano have eliminated the lasting board. This reduces weight and enables a lower stack height to help stabilise the foot and maximise power output. Essentially this means whereas normally the upper part of the shoe is attached to a lasting board, which is in turn attached to the sole. The upper of these shoes is attached directly to the carbon, which is then mostly covered with another piece of material. This reduces the stack height and means that your feet are right on top of the pedal.
A new external curved heel cup construction suppresses foot twist and roll, stabilises the heel and holds your foot firmly in place. Whilst the one-piece surround upper design provides a ‘glove-like fit’. And an asymmetric eye stay pattern prevents twisting of foot under high-power pedalling. Well it certainly still sounds the part.
Out of the Box:
Unfortunately not hand delivered by a butler with a bottle of champagne. These shoes certainly do look expensive. Available in blue, fluorescent yellow, white and black, the S-Phyre Rc9 looks slick right from the outset. The smooth one piece just curves gently all the way around the shoe, perfectly connected with the dual BOA adjustment system. We tested the white shoe and aesthetically, it was very pleasing.
The shoe is very comfortable, hugs the foot nicely with no pinchpoints. The dual system offers a vast amount of adjustability, similar to the Specialized S-works 6 shoe. Easy to put on, comfortable, strong fit, easy to take off, you can’t really complain in this department. The base of the foot is very flat, with slight medial support. But we felt Shimano could have done themselves more justice by looking to supply better foot beds. Similar to the shoe super giants of Giro or Specialized.
In the box is even a pair of socks. They’re system socks. Yeah, really. We thought the same.
“What if a sock could make a shoe better? S-PHYRE believes it can,” says Shimano. “By looking at the shoe/sock interface and applying our Linkage Effect approach, S-PHYRE socks combine thermoregulation, comfort, ankle roll stability, and heel slip-resistance with an extra-tall cuff that’s guaranteed not to droop. Asymmetrical structural weaving of proprietary fabrics provides guide rails for proper foot alignment through the entire 360-degree crank rotation.”
We’re still not sold.
The S-Phyre Rc9 is quite susceptible to scratches or general wear & tear. At £320 you wouldn’t want to fall off and put a black scuff mark up the middle. That’s an expensive tumble when you can’t twist them out at traffic lights. The durability of the shoes is great. Designed with enough quality to make it through the British winter as well as stay ventilated through the warm summer training camps. White shoes are always going to be a nightmare, but Shimano have used the highest quality materials to help you out. As you’d expect with that price tag.
An early feel suggests heat customization isn’t needed in these shoes as they were snug but not too tight. There’s also a wide fit version if your feet struggle to fit in the normal, narrow racing shoes. Very light at 464g per pair (size 42), they barely felt like they were there, although for the best part of £320 you don’t expect a heavy ride. They can be used with the majority of cleat selections, as you also presume.
Onto the Bike:
One area the S-Phyre Rc9 certainly excels is the stiffness of the base. Incredibly firm through the sole allowing a phenomenal power transfer rarely seen across the market. This firmness can be almost uncomfortable and the shoe takes a little bit of breaking in. Although once going, this shoe can really drop the hammer for you. It does what it says on the tin. Fantastic power transfer, this road shoe is as responsive as it is dynamic. Responding to bursts with incredible efficiency. The shoe hugs the pedals and the foot allowing concentration to be entirely on the movement of the legs and not worrying about any slip and lost power transfer.
Comfort can be adapted out on the road with easy changes of the tightness of the shoe. This is where the Boa S2 Snap cable reels come in really handy. The ability to loosen the shoe slightly at the end of a long ride can come in helpful for those that begin to feel discomfort. The weight of the shoe was really noticed here, allowing a very smooth pedaling motion. It doesn’t really get much more effortless.
Air flow through the S-Phyre Rc9 is good, with a large number of holes in the bottom and the large vent. The feet are kept dry and aired even when out riding in the heat. The vent asks questions of the shoes performance through the winter months as the feet certainly wouldn’t remain dry. Granted that’s certainly not on the mind of a designer looking to accomodate the top end of the performance scale. Although for that price tag, you’d like to think the shoe has the durability to last the winter.
Shimano have created a fantastic top end race shoe in the S-Phyre Rc9. Powerful, dynamic and responsive, it’s a shame that it comes with such a hefty price tag. Well out of the range for the majority of riders, we think even with that kind of cash, your money could be better spent elsewhere.
That being said, it’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing shoes on the market, up there with the smooth, one piece design seen in Giro’s Empire SLX shoe. If you don’t mind dropping the dollar, want to look the part, and have a shoe that really holds it’s own against the best. The S-Phyre Rc9 is the one!