Shimano recently updated their popular S-PHYRE RC9 shoe lineup with the RC902 models. If you are not familiar with them, S-PHYRE represents Shimano’s flagship product line and utilizes cutting edge materials and design. The Shimano S-PHYRE RC902 shoes sit at top of Shimano’s extensive cycling shoe lineup as their stiffest and highest performance shoe. It is one of the first cycling shoes to feature the updated BOA Li2 dials as well as a number of refinements from the RC901 shoes. Fit is improved by utilizing a 360° Surround Wrapping with a function specific zone approach to maximize comfort and stiffness. Shimano offers the shoes in the iconic Shimano blue, black, white and red which have an iridescent-like color-shifting finish. Being a flagship model, the Shimano S-PHYRE RC902 shoes also carry a premium $425 retail price. While the shoes look visually similar to the previous model, the question we have is whether these shoes represent a substantial improvement or not.
The Shimano S-PHYRE RC902 are flagship cycling shoes with an impressive premium design and high-performance to satisfy even the pickiest cyclist.
|Measured Weight (in g)||508 (EUR 44)|
|Likes||+ Gorgeous color shifting finish |
+ Ventilated and flexible upper design
+ Premium insole and optional arch attachment
|Dislikes||– Flagship retail price|
|Where to Buy (US)||Shimano|
The S-PHYRE shoes come in a standard cardboard shoe box with Shimano branding on it. As flagship shoes, Shimano includes a number of additional items with the shoes. Inside the box you’ll find:
- S-PHYRE RC902 shoes
- Branded fabric carrying bag
- Interchangeable arch support, and
- A gigantic user manual
The fabric carrying bag is a nice premium touch that even includes two meshed exterior pockets to store the shoes individually or for accessories. We are also impressed with the additional arch support which allows for a customized fit right out of the box.
FIT & FINISH
For those familiar with the S-PHYRE RC901 shoes, the new RC902 shoes will look quite familiar. Particularly with the shoes side-by-side in the beautiful blue finish the differences aren’t obvious until you look at the details. The Dynalast profile has been updated for a more squared off profile that provides a wider toe box. The color matched rubber guards on the toes have also been enlarged and better positioned to protect against wheel/toe overlap. Reflective S-PHYRE branding on the heels also highlights the glossy anti-twist heel stabilizer that keeps your heel firmly in place even during high effort sprints. Although we were a bit sad to see the cat tongue’ material (smooth when touched downward, and grippy when touched upward) inside the heels were replaced with two rubber pads, they seem equally effective.
One of the more obvious new features of the S-PHYRE RC902 shoes are the updated dual BOA Li2 dials. Touted for their sleek and low profile design, the Li2 dials have a more premium design than the previous IP1 dials while providing the same dual direction adjustment design. Functionally, the dials provide the same micro-adjustments for tightening or loosening the tension which makes it easy to make adjustments on the fly. The dials and routing are strategically placed to take advantage of Shimano’s function specific zone construction which provides reinforcements on the toe, heel, and cable routing hooks. Unlike more affordable modular shoes like the FLR F-XX Knit which have a clear attachment point between the uppers and soles, the S-PHYRE RC902s have an integrated design. The stiff carbon fiber sole is only visible on the cleat attachment portion with the arch and heel portion covered by the upper material and anti-twist stabilizer.
The S-PHYRE shoes feature what Shimano call their 360° Surround Wrapping which is described as a supportive cocoon. As the name implies, the uppers have a wrap-around design that evenly distributes tension as the dual BOA Li2 dials are tightened. The tongueless design reduces bulk as each half of the upper slightly overlaps with the cables routed through them. While it doesn’t have a heat moldable sole like Bont Cycling shoes, the anatomical design and dual dials provide a custom like fit. The upper dial can be used to tighten the ankle fit while the lower dial controls the toe box. One minor downside is that the lower profile BOA Li2 dials are slightly harder to grip.
The other technical detail that sets the RC9 shoes apart is the single piece microfiber synthetic leather. Rather than using a traditional tongue design, where you would have a U-shaped cutout in the front of the shoes, the RC9 uses a wrap-around design. This means as you tighten the tension on the dials, the shoes gently wrap around your foot without any tension points. We found that the shoes provided a secure yet comfortable fit whether we were going on an easy ride or out of the saddle on a steep climb.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the S-PHYRE RC902 shoes are quite comfortable. Even in the standard width EUR 44 we tried, the flexible microfiber uppers have enough ventilation and flexibility to accommodate our wide feet. We found that the shoes felt similar to the RC901 shoes aside from the more narrow heels. The premium molded insoles are also impressive as they offer a custom-like fit with the swappable arch supports. We found that the high arch inserts worked well for us and helped eliminate pressure points. During high effort sprints or climbs, the stiff carbon fiber soles provide a nearly direct power transfer through the pedals which means you don’t feel the cleat attachment as you would with more flexible nylon sole cycling shoes.
Overall, we found the Shimano S-PHYRE RC902 shoes to be a sleek and impressive upgrade for Shimano’s flagship shoes. Even though the shoes carry a premium retail price, the attention to detail, and beautiful finish offer the exclusivity and performance that exceeded our expectations. It’s an anatomically designed shoe that offers a roomy toe box even in the standard width and well ventilated and soft upper. We found that the RC902s offer a worthwhile upgrade from the RC901 with their updated BOA Li2 dials and wrap around design for improved performance and fit. If you have the budget, the S-PHYRE RC902 are premium high performance cycling shoes that should be near the top of your list. That said, if the RC902 shoes are out of your budget don’t worry as Shimano is well known for their trickle down approach that means more affordable versions of the shoes will incorporate similar designs and features as the S-PHYRE lineup.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Shimano. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.