It’s always a tricky tightrope to walk, updating an already phenomenal product. But, over the years, one brand we’ve come to trust to do that better than most is Shimano. So, when a pair of the new flagship S-Phyre RC902 shoes arrived, we understandably were excited. Let’s just say the shoes didn’t disappoint.
Before diving into the shoe’s updates, we first want to take a moment to appreciate the boldness of Shimano’s shoe colors. Sure, there are the standard black and white options, but the blue and red versions, which go all-in on a monochromatic look from heel to toe, really pop. We got compliments left and right about the blue shoes we tested, and the brilliant ruby-red color will have you ditching the bike path in search of the yellow brick road.
But we know that color is a secondary consideration to performance. To improve upon the previous design, Shimano gleaned feedback from some of the best riders around and studied pedaling dynamics and different rider types. This allowed Shimano to map out how pressure is applied throughout the shoe and adjust the fit and makeup of the upper accordingly. Layers of mesh and microfiber leather are layered differently throughout the shoe to fine-tune flexibility in the front of the shoe for comfort, and foot-stabilizing rigidity in the back, as well as adding ventilation where needed. Up front, the toe box is roomy, but not cavernous, giving our toes enough breathing room. And in the back, the heel cup, designed to resist the twisting forces of sprints, keeps your foot firmly planted without feeling constricted.
Flip the shoe over and you’ll notice that the super-stiff carbon sole, the only part of the shoe that remains unchanged, is covered by a 360-degree Surround Upper—which, as its name implies, covers the entirety of the shoe upper and helps support the foot for a comfortable fit, while contributing to a low overall weight of 246 grams per shoe (size 42.5). A pair of the latest low-profile BOA Fit System Li2 dials finish off the shoes to secure everything in place.
While much is changed in this latest-generation shoe, the high price tag befitting of a top-end shoe, $425, remains. But that’s the price to pay for top-performing shoes that are comfortable from toe to heel with no hotspots; that keep your feet firmly planted on stiff carbon soles for maximum power transfer; and that are plenty breathable while remaining durable. Plus, you can’t beat the bold color options. We can’t find much of anything to fault about the S-Phyre RC902. $425; 246g per shoe (size 42.5); 4 colors; bike.shimano.com