Committed to its mission of promoting health and happiness through immersing in nature and the world, Shimano aims to do this by providing quality products. The Japanese brand manufactures merchandise that aids the consumer to go out in the world and experience it.
Although the company makes products for several outdoor activities, cycling is their most popular and best-selling division out of the entire line-up. Shimano’s cycling department didn’t start out producing shoes right away. Cranksets and other bike components were the main driving force behind the popularity. But what good is a top-performance bike if the rider isn’t comfortable, right?
So, in this section, we dive into everything Shimano cycling shoes has to offer to help you choose a pair that’s ideal for your riding style and preferences.
Types of Shimano bike shoes for men and women
Best Shimano cycling shoes - December 2019
The Osaka-born brand started producing their cycling shoes to introduce their new pedaling system called the SPD. This system is specifically intended for mountain bikes. This then-unheard-of pedaling system simply attaches the footwear to the pedal. It is considered revolutionary as it not only transfers power efficiently but also aids the rider in using most of their leg muscles while pedaling.
From then, Shimano expanded to also cater to road bikes and other disciplines of cycling. Read on to find out more about Shimano’s different categories of cycling footwear.
Road bike shoes are recommended to cyclists who often ride on flat pavements. Shimano’s road category houses different shoe types that correspond to which road activity the rider is planning to do. It includes models for road competitions, road performance, and triathlon. The distinction between the brand’s road competition and road performance shoes is that the former are designed for racing and the latter are decked out for casual performance.
In general, these road bike shoes are designed with low weight, stability, comfort, and anatomical fit.
The Shimano models that fall under this section are fine-tuned for riding in challenging terrains. They typically highlight grip and durability through incorporating high-traction lug outsoles and upper protection against rock strike and all sorts of impact. The disciplines of cycling in this division include cyclocross, gravel, trail/enduro, and gravity. It is also in the offroad section that shoes are offered in clipless and flat cleat designs.
Also called the Touring category, the Exploring section is comprised of shoes engineered for the cyclist who values pleasure over speed. The models in this section focus more on durability and walkability over advanced technologies. It is also where bike sandals belong. Riders should head straight to this line-up if they are planning the following activities: road/city touring, mountain touring, and hike-a-biking.
The rise in popularity of indoor cycling as a fitness program led to the production of specialty shoes for this activity. Shimano indoor cycling shoes are rooted in comfort and style. Most models are designed for women since the majority of participants are female. The footwear provides confidence and stability for the best workout on the stationary bike.
Factors to consider when choosing a pair of Shimano cycling shoes
After reading about the various classifications of Shimano shoes, you may have at least the slightest idea which one you are going for. Once that is settled, the next step is to determine which shoe construct best matches your preferences. The following will expound on the essential features you should look for in your next Shimano pair.
Stiffness of the sole
In the sport of cycling, the stiffer the sole, the more accurate the transfer of energy is to the bike. However, the degree of stiffness still depends on the rider’s preference. Some like their shoes to have a little flex to avoid feet numbing, while others aren’t bothered.
Shimano provides a wide variety of shoes with different stiffness levels for different riding styles. For pro racers who need efficient power transfer, Shimano competition shoes are made with superbly rigid soles. And for the casual cyclist, appropriate models are equipped with more pliable soles and cushioned insoles for walking comfort.
The brand measures their models’ rigidity using the Shimano stiffness index. This scale runs from 2 to 12, with 2 being the most flexible and 12 as the stiffest. The brand’s road shoes have a sole rigidity that starts from 6 and goes all the way to 12. Shimano off-road shoes’ stiffness is rated from 2 to 11, and the explorer models range from 2 to 5.
Upper materials and design
Shimano offers a vast collection of shoes with different upper constructions and designs. Most of the brand’s shoes are usually crafted from either microfiber synthetic leather or synthetic leather. But these materials are primarily applied in race-focused and pro-oriented models due to their durability, low weight, and water-resistant properties. On the other hand, the more casual designs, such as hike-a-bike and indoor cycling models, employ either natural leather, suede, mesh, or TPU.
Apart from the textile used on the upper, the design also plays a big part in the shoe’s performance. One-piece uppers help shed off extra weight and prevent hotspots. Wrap-like uppers, on the other hand, are designed to hug the foot, while mesh inserts, as well as perforations, enhance airflow.
Collar padding, heel cup systems, and toe reinforcements also portray a vital part in the shoe’s performance and the rider’s protection and comfort.
Type of closure system
The kind of closure usually depends on the type of cycling one is planning to do. Shimano employs several forms of fastening. To know more about each class, read on.
Lace-up (comes bare, with protective flaps, or with lace tucks)
This fastening system is the most traditional and most time-tested out of all the options. It is preferred for its proven efficiency, lightweight build, and even pressure distribution. However, most road cyclists are not very fond of the lace-up’s inability to be adjusted while on the saddle and its tendency to get caught in the pedal or crankset. As a solution to this dilemma, Shimano came up with lace tucks and shields to keep laces from getting intertwined anywhere.
Shimano shoes that incorporate this closure system are the Shimano GR5, RT4, and XM9.
Shoes that feature hook-and-loop straps mainly offer the advantage of fast and easy putting on and taking off. This type of closure is commonly used on triathlon shoes to aid in more rapid transitions. Moreover, to help in more convenient on-the-fly adjustments, straps on triathlon shoes were designed to open going to the right and away from the bike. The Shimano models that utilize Velcro closures are the Shimano RP1, TR9, TR5, ME1, and RD5.
BOA dials (with various cable designs)
BOA dials are considered the Rolls-Royce of closure systems. Although some entry-level shoes feature BOA dials, it is widely believed that this type of fastening is most commonly used in high-end cycling shoes. Primarily because of the dials' higher cost. Shimano bike shoes equipped with this technology offer convenience, fast adjustments, excellent fit, and featherlight weight.
Shoes that employ BOA dials utilize various designs of cable systems. Some work in conjunction with wire guides in crisscross patterns, while other dials are attached to straps. Check out the following models with BOA closures: Shimano RC9, XC9, MT7, and IC5.
Ratchet and hook-and-loop straps
Shimano shoes that utilize a ratchet buckle usually use it on the top-most strap, while additional hook-and-loop belts secure the forefoot and midfoot areas. The ratchet features teeth that keep the closure secure. Some ratchet systems could be tightened and loosened in increments while others can be loosened via an immediate complete release.
The ratchet allows easy and precise tightening while on the bike. Moreover, compared to hook-and-loop, the buckle won't get clogged up with dirt when riding in muddy trails.
Practically a lace-up system, Shimano's Speed Lacing steps it up a notch by incorporating a clasp. This way, users don't have to tie anything, and it automatically tucks the laces in to keep them from getting caught where they shouldn't be. The brand also provides replaceable kits for this fastening system.
Cleat mount design
The next element to determine is which type of cleat design you prefer. This basically establishes the degree of your shoe's fixture onto the pedals. Generally, there are two types of cleat design: clipless and flat. Clipless shoes feature a variety of hole numbers in them. These holes are where the cleat will be attached. While flat shoes have, well, exactly what it says - flat sole designs.
Clipless shoes come in 2, 3, or 4 holes. The more holes, the more attached you are to the pedal and the harder it is to clip out. Specifically, Shimano bike shoes come in 2-, 3-bolt, and universal cleat types. Most models in the offroad and explorer sections have a 2-bolt cleat design. This is because riders who are in these cycling disciplines need to easily detach their shoes and quickly plant their foot due to challenging trails.
Shimano shoes with 3-bolt cleats are usually found in road models. They provide more connection to the pedal because getting off the bike is less needed in this type of pavement. Flat shoes are mainly marketed to gravity riders because their path is usually downhill. Thus, flat cycling shoes provide them the freedom to plant their feet spontaneously.
Lastly, shoes with universal cleat systems mean that they are compatible with either 2 or 3-bolt cleats/pedals. Hence, the user can switch between the two types whenever they wish.
In cycling, especially in competitions and races, light footwear is the mecca. The added weight is perceived to strip the rider off with energy that is vital to winning. Shimano's bike shoes are known to be one of the lightest in the industry. Their men's footwear is measured using a single shoe in size 42 (US 8.3) while the women's also uses a single shoe in size 40 (US8.3.) Note that factors such as riding purpose, shoe height, and materials should also be considered when scrutinizing a pair's weight.
Shimano's road bike shoes are specially engineered to have the lightest weight. Road models for the men range from 230 g to 265 g, while the women's run from 235 g to 258 g. Offroad or mountain bike shoes are expectedly heavier due to added lug outsoles and protective layers. The brand's shoes that fall under this category have the following weight measurements: men - 265 g to 480 g, women - 253 g to 386 g.
The explorer section houses the heaviest Shimano pair - the XM9. Due to its high-top profile and hiking-equipped build, it is the most weighty at 579 g. The RT5 is the lightest in the men's explorer category, weighing in at 317 g. The ladies' explorer models range between 326 g to 340 g. Lastly, the indoor group weighs around 292 - 326 g.
Since each foot is differently shaped and has different needs, trying on any shoe could be a completely different experience to the next person. However, getting the correct fit of cycling shoes in the first try is like winning the lottery - very rare. This is due to the sports shoe's traditional narrower shape last and stiff soles.
Every brand has different measurements. According to retailers such as Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles, consumers should go a size up when buying a pair of Shimano shoes. Nonetheless, it is recommended to try a pair to make sure that you get the most out of your money. Another option is to order two or three sizes from a retailer that offers free returns and shipping and see which one fits best.
Shimano shoes are offered from entry-level models to high-end versions. This factor is one of the many components that influence a footwear's price. Other factors include the materials used, the technologies applied, and the sole stiffness. Upon checking out rates from a slew of retailers, Shimano's cheapest bike shoe averages from $30 to $40, while the most expensive pair plays around $320 to $350 mark.
Frequently asked questions
Which Shimano bike shoes are available in women’s sizes?
Although Shimano shoes in men's sizes could be converted to women's sizing, the last isn't shaped after the ladies' narrower foot frame. Obviously, every brand’s product line-up always changes so you have to check the brand’s latest offerings to get be updated. However, here are some of Shimano’s mainstay models available in women’s sizes. Shimano TR9, XC5, GR7, RT5 and IC5.
Which models are offered in wide width?
Not all of the brand's shoes are available in a wide option. And since, as mentioned before, Shimano's sizing falls in the small and narrow part of the scale, it could be helpful to know which models offer this option. The Shimano RC9T, RP4, XC9, and RT4 are some of the brand’s footwear offered in wide options.
What are Shimano’s replacement parts?
Shimano and many other cycling brands offer a number of their shoe's components to be replaceable. These renewable parts help lengthen a pair's life, thus giving purchasers excellent value for their money. But what are the specific parts one can take out and restore? Read on to find out. Note that not all models feature these replaceable parts.
- Rubber heel pads
- Speed Lacing Kit
- BOA dials
- Ratchet buckles
What shoe accessories does the brand offer?
Most cycling brands offer accessories for the shoe. These additions were created to optimize the rider's comfort and performance. What accessories does Shimano provide? Check below.
- Cleat adapters - These allow the shoe owner to mount their 2-bolt pair on a 3-bolt cleat.
- Cleat spacers - These help in adjusting the distance between the shoe and pedal. Riders use these to compensate for various leg lengths or reach.
- Shoe covers/overshoes - During winter, the temperature drops and the cyclist’s once efficiently breathable cycling shoe for the summer cannot protect the foot from getting cold. This is where the shoe covers come in, as they are usually insulated and waterproof. These are made so that the cyclist doesn’t have to buy a new pair for the colder weather.
- Sole covers - This is basically a rubber lug outsole that could be attached to a cycling shoe’s smooth sole. Once fastened, the shoe now offers traction and lets the owner walk and stand comfortably.
Where are Shimano shoes made?
Shimano was founded in 1921 by Shozaburo Shimano. The company was born in Osaka, but its headquarters is currently situated in Sakai, Japan. All of the brand's products - from bike components, accessories, and shoes - are made in their primary manufacturing plants. These main factories are located in Kunshan, China, Singapore, and Malaysia.
3 best Shimano cycling shoes
- Shimano TR900
- Shimano RC701
- Shimano RP901
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