Who should buy the Shimano RX800

With the gravel-oriented RX800, Shimano managed to hit the sweet spot between road and MTB, cross-country, and cyclocross shoes. Based on the extensive feedback from the riders, this shoe is highly recommended if you are after the following:

  • a stiff sole with lots of pedaling efficiency for racing on gravel
  • a featherweight shoe to help you feel nimble
  • a road-like shoe with enough ruggedness to deal with gravel trails, mixed roads, and smooth trails

Shimano RX800 who should buy

Who should not buy this bike shoe

The speed-focused RX800 will probably be an overkill if your rides are casual and leisurely. For a more relaxed style of riding, consider Shimano MT301 or any other shoe from their MT range.

And if you are planning to do long walks and hike-a-bikes, you would need a more aggressive shoe with thicker lugs. Shimano’s XC series includes more flexible and grippy shoes for off-road adventures like bikepacking. Check out the XC701 for example.

Fits perfect but check with the size chart

Cycling shoes can be tricky, especially when you are transitioning from the US to EU sizing scheme. Based on most buyers’ feedback, the RX800 runs true to size. You just have to get your exact foot length measurements and check with the brand’s size chart.

The majority of reviewers also find the shoe’s “burrito-wrap upper” conforming to the foot quite nicely. They like how it “cradles the foot,” giving an even pressure across the instep instead of compressing it from all sides. A rider with wider feet appreciated the offset cut on top of the toebox which eliminates the bunching and pinching. Only a few people experienced pressure points coming from the edge of the upper, near the tongue.

The toebox also seems to be giving enough wiggle room for long days in the saddle. As one reviewer shares, it’s not as pointy as his Italian-made bike shoes.

Shimano RX800 toebox

Even those with slightly wide feet describe the fit as snug but not too tight. Meanwhile, wide footers have the option of getting a Wide “for a bit of extra breathing space”.

The only major gripe is that the “clam-shell style” requires extra time to put the shoe on and take it off

Forget about heel slippage with the RX800

The majority of cyclists report that the heel stays planted thanks to the snug and supportive heel cup as well as the padding therein. “Not a whiff of undue movement,” says one of them. This design prevents unwanted heel lift and blistering even “when pedaling hard on the upstroke.”

Shimano RX800 heel hold

BOA IP1 is adjustable both ways!

The IP1 variation of the BOA closure has become a revelation for many as it allows to turn the knob in both directions, as opposed to the traditional BOA. It helps you to fine-tune the fit quickly in 1-mm increments, even on the go.

Perfect blend of power transfer and walkability from the Shimano RX800

With a carbon composite sole and stiffness of 10 out of 12 on the Shimano index, the RX8 is often compared to a road racing shoe. An avid cyclist says that it’s like the S-Phyre RC9 (score 12) but with “just a little bit more give.”

Many reviewers are impressed with the power transfer provided by the shoe, especially given that it’s an MTB hybrid. As one of them puts it, there is “no discernable flex during pedaling, and just enough give to go on walk-a-bout.”

However, it is still not the type of shoe to take on routes with lots of hike-a-biking. “Just enough give to make walking feel a bit less like you have a 2×4 strapped to the bottom,” in the words of a cyclist.

Shimano RX800 power transfer

Two options for arch support

A really nice touch, according to the buyers, is the inclusion of interchangeable arch support inserts for the insole. You can choose Medium or High, depending on your needs. One of the bikers shares that he “found the shape of the sole to be very supportive.”

Not as durable as an MTB shoe but still solid

The reviewers are satisfied with the generous toe bumper, which appears to be tough and protective. Some also took note of the wear-resistant upper that’s immune to rubbing and scratches.

On the downside, those who have put the shoe through a good deal of walking report that the treading is noticeably frail compared to MTB shoes. They say that it has chipped, peeled off, and separated from the outsole.

In addition, the exposed pieces of carbon are too vulnerable to scratching and scuffing when you walk a lot on gravel. However, based on the comments, this appears to be a cosmetic issue only. It “reduces the stunning looks out of the box but I can live with it,” says a cyclist.

Shimano RX800 durability

Shimano RX800 weighs like a feather!

Tipping the scales at 9.3 oz (265 g), the RX800 is nowhere near the bulkiness of the mountain bike shoes (14.2 oz / 403 g on average). In fact, it is even lighter than the average across road shoes (9.7 oz / 276 g)!

Cyclists rave about how unbelievably light the RX800 is:

  • “I can't believe how light they are for how robust they look and feel”
  • “easy to mistake for road shoes”
  • “probably the lightest 2-bolt shoe pattern”

Shimano RX800 lightweight

Ventilation is lacking but this helps in the rain

Opinions split regarding the shoe’s breathability. About half of the riders think that the RX800 offers enough or even plenty of ventilation thanks to the perforations all throughout the upper. They also took note of the anti-microbial insole which contributes to keeping the foot refreshed. Some mentioned that the shoe doesn’t soak up the sweat either.

On the other hand, some riders complain that the shoe gets “a bit toasty” and doesn’t do a “great job of keeping sweat at bay.” They say that some venting is still present but it’s not enough for slow grinding on a summer’s day, hot days in Kansas, or in the Queensland heat. That is because of the one-piece synthetic leather upper and no sole-based ventilation.

But if you look at it from a different perspective, the lack of ventilation actually makes the shoe a bit more weatherproof. Users say that it does a good job “fending off the worst of the mud and water” and that “it would take a hell of a lot of rain to soak your feet.”

Shimano RX800 ventilation

Grips the gravel just fine but avoid mud

Rooty and rocky singletrack is not going to be a problem for the Shimano RX800. Of course, the riders agree that the shoe can’t compete with Shimano’s proper MTB shoes when it comes to loose and slick surfaces. The lugs simply aren’t that deep and grippy. “The narrow tread made me feel quite nervous walking,” says one of the reviewers.

But the shoe does a fantastic job latching onto hardpacked trails and even steep gravel climbs.

RX800 is a steal for the price

All testers are more than happy with the pricing of this Shimano gravel shoe. They call it “very reasonable,” “fair,” and a “great price to value ratio,” compared to similar shoes with features like carbon plate, BOA, adjustable arch support, feather-like weight, etc.

One reviewer claims that he couldn’t tell the difference in the weight and stiffness of the RX8 and the S-Phyre ($400) at the store.

Another cyclist perfectly sums it up by saying: “at $260, it’s really really hard to argue anything against the RX8.” The shoe definitely has the fit and feel of the more expensive shoes.

Shimano RX800 price

Facts / Specs

Weight: Men 9.3oz
Use: Gravel
Cleat design: 2 holes
Closure: BOA, Velcro
Features: Recessed cleats, SPD
Material: Carbon composite sole, Synthetic upper
BRAND Brand: Shimano

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Shimano RX800 video reviews

Author
Rhys Smith
Rhys Smith

Rhys is an expert in all things cycling and bicycles who at a young age pursued the dream of becoming a professional cyclist by racing for a French and then Belgian road racing team at the Elite level. He is heavily involved in the cycling scene and runs one of Australia’s highest-rated online bicycle parts stores. He’s THE expert when it comes to testing cycling shoes.