These lightweight RX8R Gravel Shoes from Japanese giant Shimano will appeal to those who like to ride fast over loose terrain, says cycling expert Mark Bailey…
Shimano RX8R Gravel Shoes
Price $275 / £269.99, gravel.shimano.com
- Lightweight gravel race design
- Ankle fit repels stones and grit
- Super-stiff carbon sole for extra power
- A high price for more casual riders
- Weight-saving sole limits foot grip
Fusing the speed thrills of road riding with the off-grid adventures of mountain biking, gravel cycling is really booming. Road riders are using gravel bikes to explore trails; mountain-bikers are switching to them for longer-distance adventures; bike-packers are loading them up for multi-day trips; and keen racers are now enjoying the expanding gravel race scene. Check out the rest of the best cycling shoes for every kind of riding.
The Shimano RX8R – with its feather-light design and stiff power-pumping carbon sole – is clearly aimed at gravel racers. But they are also a decent option for gravel riders who just want to ride fast for long distances over non-technical terrain. That will undoubtedly include the bulk of road riders now experimenting on gravel.
Shimano RX8R Gravel Shoes features
These shoes have a wow factor, with their inkjet-printed metallic graphics making them appear like they’ve been chopped off an ancient Greek statue. The colouring – dubbed Metallic Orange – is more bronze than gold, though, ensuring the design is much more refined than a cheap gold bling look would have offered.
The shoe’s comfy stretch-knit ankle cuff is reminiscent of the ankle boots now worn by some Premier League footballers. Its value here, however, is to keep out grit and debris as you blast over trails. I found it was good at keeping out the tiny stones which can force you to stop and shake out your shoes in frustration. I tested this over winter, but I reckon the ankle cuff could get sweaty on hot days.
The RX8R aims to blend race performance with long-distance comfort. It’s impressively light at just 10.2oz / 290g per shoe, and comfortable too, with a narrow profile and a fast, racy feel. The Boa dial and cable offers a highly adjustable fit. And with half sizes and wider sizes available, you should be able to find your perfect fit.
Shimano RX8R Gravel Shoes performance
Shimano is a top-quality Japanese brand and you’re paying for some high-tech features. The shoe’s super-stiff carbon composite sole (rated 10 out of 12 for stiffness by Shimano) feels more like a performance road sole. The sole features Shimano’s Dynalast technology, with a specially engineered toe-spring section which aims to improve energy efficiency during the pedal stroke and reduce foot tension by securing your foot in a more ergonomic position.
This is an unapologetically fast and light race shoe, and it performs best when racing hard over less technical terrain. The sole has a standard recessed space for two-bolt cleats and some basic rubber grips. But the light sole – which has no room for toe spikes – is certainly aimed at the gravel racer, not the explorer who is going to spend a lot of time hike-a-biking or bike-packing. Overall, this is a smart, speedy and stylish gravel racing shoe which is bound to earn many fans.