Trek’s Race Shop Limited (RSL) series of products combine top-of-the-line materials with pro-level performance. The new Trek RSL Road Cycling Shoes are one of their latest RSL products and claim to couple classic aesthetics with game-changing tech. Retail price on the RSL Road shoes is $449.95 which is $50 cheaper than Trek’s RSL Knit road shoe variation. As a premium shoe, the RSL Road shoes have a dual BOA Li2 fit system which provides dual direction micro adjustments. The RLS shoes also feature Trek’s MetNet relief zones which allow the shoes to flex and optimize comfort. At the core of the shoes are OCLV carbon fiber soles which are one of the stiffest Trek offers along with an updated Trek Pro Last.

The Trek RSL Road Cycling shoes combine classic aesthetics with pro-level materials and performance for road cycling.

Retail Price$449.95
Rating9.2 / 10
Measured Weight (in g) 502 (EUR 43.5)
Likes+ Clean aesthetics
+ Dual BOA Li2 dials and flexible upper material
+ Highly ventilated with MetNet relief zones
Dislikes– Limited color options
– Thin and non-replaceable heel and toe pads
Where to Buy (US)Trek


The Trek RSL Road Cycling shoes come in a sleek black cardboard box with reflective Trek logos on the exterior. Trek has added their “Ride Bikes | Have Fun | Feel Good” motto and graphics printed on the inside of the lid. Inside the box you’ll find:

  • RSL road cycling shoes
  • Trek branded fabric bag

We’re happy to see Trek include a carrying bag for the shoes as it provides a great way to travel and store the shoes.


Visually, the Trek RSL Road Cycling shoes look like classic road cycling shoes with a dual dial setup and perforated center tongue. In contrast to the flashy Trek RSL Knit shoe, these Trek RSL shoes have a subtle design with synthetic upper material and glossy heel cups. Trek only offers the shoes in two color schemes: white with black accents and the full black version we have here. It’s a low-key design with perforations along the sides and front and a glossy heel cup. Branding is limited to a reflective Trek logo on the outer heels and the BOA logos on the dials. Glossy black detailing around the tongue cutout offers some contrast to the otherwise all-black shoes.

One of the key technologies of these shoes is the MetNet Relief Panels which are these three-star perforations on the outer surface of the shoes. The perforations allow the upper material to flex and contour around riders feet as well provide ventilation to keep feet cool. In fact, the entire upper material is quite flexible and mimics knit shoes as there is no visible structure except for the heel cup and toe bumper. Trek designed these shoes for high-intensity sprints and road racing which is why they have one of the stiffest soles in their lineup. It’s a full OCLV carbon fiber sole with a subtle semi-glossy carbon fiber texture instead of an aesthetic weave. With a claimed stiffness index of 14/14, even Spinal Tap will be jealous of just how stiff the shoes are.

Trek RSL Road Cycling Carbon Shoes Review - Heel Cub
To optimize performance, the RLS Road Cycling shoes have stiff heel cups and a cats-tongue like fabric material.

The shoes are designed for 3-bolt cleats such as Shimano SPD-SL and LOOK Keo with no fore-aft adjustment. Instead, there are three holes with subtle fitment markings on the sole to help position cleats. For ventilation the sole has four vents along the front and center location to circulate air through the shoes. To help protect the soles from damage, there is a thin rubber toe bumper and heel pad. Unfortunately it is a non-removable design which means you won’t be able to replace it if you wear it down.

Trek RSL Road Cycling Carbon Shoes Review - Carbon Sole
While the carbon soles might like a flashy carbon weave, their OCLV construction and 14/14 stiffness index makes them one of the stiffest shoes Trek produces.

Not surprisingly, the Trek RSL Road Cycling shoes use a dual BOA Li2 fit system. This is BOA’s top-of-the-line dials and offers micro adjustments for tightening and loosening the shoes. Rotating the dial in one direction tightens the shoes in small increments while the other directions loosens them letting you find the optimal tension on the fly. Pulling up on the dial does a full tension release and makes it easy to put the shoes on or take them off. The Li2 dials have a low-profile ensign with rubberized outer ring that’s easy to grip even with winter gloves on. Each dial controls a different section of the fit with the upper dial adjusting the fit around the ankle while the lower dial has a two row cable routing to adjust the center section. The standard three row cable routing design works well and makes it easy to optimize the fit.


When it comes to modern cycling shoes with flexible upper materials the first impressions are usually a good indicator of how well the shoes fit. From our first ride to a few hundred miles later, the Trek RSL Road Cycling shoes were comfortable and performed well. Using Trek’s sizing chart we determined the EUR 43.5 was the equivalent size to our normal EUR 44 Shimano S-PHYRE and Bont Cycling Vapor shoes. The RSL Road Cycling shoes have an anatomically shaped design with a wide toe box as well as the MetNet relief zones which allow the shoes to expand where you need them without any chafing or pressure points even on long summer rides.

Trek RSL Road Cycling Carbon Shoes Review - MetNet Closeup
With the MetNet technology, Trek has incorporated three sided star perforations along the outer edge of the shoes to allow them to contour around riders feet.

We were also impressed with the stiff carbon soles which provide direct power transfer to the bike. Trek has done an excellent job with the shaping of the shoes to ensure the stiffness doesn’t turn into pain points on long rides. As always, the dual BOA Li2 dials make adjusting the fit and doing micro adjustments mid ride and painless. The shoes also provide nice ventilation thanks to the perforated uppers and allow airflow through the shoes even on long slow climbs. Our only complaint would be that the included Trek insoles lack the arch support that we’ve gotten used to with the Bont Cycling Cobra9 insoles or the adjustable arch height that Shimano includes with S-PHYRE shoes. That’s easily remedied by swapping out the insoles for riders that want additional support.


Overall, we found the Trek RSL Road Cycling shoes to be comfortable and stiff cycling shoes. Trek has combined their stiffest sole with an anatomical shape that allows riders to optimize performance and fit. The shoe’s traditional tongue design and three row cable routing work well with the dual BOA Li2 Dial fit system. We were also impressed with the MetNet relief panels which allow the upper material to flex around riders feet and eliminate pressure points. The main negatives with the shoes is the Trek only offers the in black and white color scheme currently and that the insole lacks arch support. That said, the Trek RSL Road Cycling shoes are sleek road cycling shoes that provide optimal performance without any sacrifices.

Disclaimer:  The product for this review was provided by Trek. 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.

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