Shimano's RX8 shoes are the best of both worlds

Shimano's RX8 shoes are the best of both worlds

Have you ever wanted a shoe that provides the same feel and power transfer as a road shoe, but is a little more versatile if you want or need to get off the bike? That shoe is the RX8, Shimano’s first gravel racing shoe and, quite possibly, one shoe that can do everything.

If you’re totally wedded to three-bolt cleats, then you wont be able to ride the RX8 with SPD-SL road pedals, but if you’re open to some SPD action – or just like the idea of a road ride with the possibility of getting lost and needing to walk a little – then the RX8s wont let you down on that Sunday morning club ride. Sure, they’re not quite as stiff as the road-specific S-PHyre RC902 but chances are that the majority of us wouldn’t be able to tell the difference as we, frankly, just don’t have enough watts in our legs for it to matter.

The bonus, of course, of opting for these bad boys is that they’re made for off-road riding, meaning there’s enough grip on the bottom that if you choose the wrong trail and end up needed to walk, you wont be slipping and sliding around like Bambi on ice. The tread isn’t as aggressive as the Michelin sole on the S-Phyre XC9 cross country race shoe and there aren’t additional mounts for spikes, either, but if you’re going somewhere that gnarly then you’re better off in a dedicated MTB shoe anyway.

The point is this: with the RX8, Shimano haven’t just taken a road shoe and chucked some tread on the bottom, nor have they taken an MTB shoe and made it a bit lighter, they’ve genuinely thought about the challenges gravel riding presents and constructed a shoe that is tailored to meet those demands while also being light and comfortable. And good-looking, very, very good-looking. From the classy black colourway through the more eye-catching silver and right up to the fantastically out-there ‘Cactus Berry’ livery, these are shoes that’ll grab attention wherever you ride.

If you want the boring details, the RX8 shoes use a stiff and light carbon composite sole covered with tough, abrasion-resistant TPU lugs to give you a balance between being lightweight and actually capable off the bike. The uppers are synthetic leather and mesh, and the upper pattern has been designed to provide plenty of holding power but also give you a comfortable and secure closure.

Retention itself is managed by the tried-and-tested BOA IP1 dial, and BOA (or own-brand derivatives) are pretty much the closure system of choice for all high-end bike shoes these days, other than a few stylised ones that choose laces. The shape is Shimano’s Dynalast, and the insoles come with a couple of sets of adaptable arch pads so you can choose the level of support you need. Manufacturer claimed weight is 265g per shoe for a 42, and we weighed the set we have here in a 44 and they came out at 295g for the left and 289g for the right – still very light.