Shimano’s 2021 shoe range brings high-end tricks to low-end kicks

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Shimano has announced a wide-ranging update to its footwear range, with 15 new or redesigned models. There’s a little something for everyone in Shimano’s latest announcement – entry-level road and mountain bike shoes, touring sandals, triathlon footwear, and a jazzy new colour scheme on the brand’s range-topping RX8 gravel shoe. That last one is the most immediately eye-catching thing about Shimano’s announcement, so I’ll start there.

The gravel-racing focused RX8 was first announced in September 2019, and is now available in a new ‘Cactus Berry’ offering inspired by the desert landscapes of the US Southwest. “The inspiration for this colorful design came from a gravel ride near my house where I was blown away by the beauty of a Santa Rita Prickly Pear Cactus on the side of the trail,” said Shimano’s Lifestyle Gear Product Manager, Jessie Gascon.

If you’re not taken with the purple to green fade, the RX8 is available in two other colour schemes, at the low, low price of US$249 / AU$380. In brutal news for Australian aficionados of the Santa Rita Prickly Pear Cactus, this colour is not available domestically. Happy day – at least one major Australian Shimano dealer has reportedly picked up stock of the Cactus Berry colour scheme.

Feature trickle-down

More lowkey but probably far more interesting to a wider variety of people, however, are the products at the complete opposite end of the financial spectrum.

The new RC3, and its women’s equivalent — the RC3W — are value-oriented road cycling shoes. They benefit from trickledown from Shimano’s range-topping S-Phyre road shoes including a reduced stack height, integrated sole and upper construction and a seamless midsole for improved comfort. The closure uses a one-piece wrap upper, with a central BOA L6 dial to bring it all together. Weight is claimed at 242 grams.

The RC3 comes in a choice of black, white or red, from sizes 40-48 in the US. Australia foregoes the red colour scheme for a broader 36-50 size range, with E widths also available from sizes 40 to 52 (!!)

In the US, the RC3W subs out the red for a rather fetching blue colour scheme along with the black and white, with sizes from 36-44; Australian riders only get black. Pricing comes in at an impressive US$120 / AU$199.

Sitting just below the RC3 in the hierarchy are the entry-level RC1 and RC1W, existing models that have received updates. These models forego the BOA dial of the RC3, with Shimano instead opting for an effective, albeit less exotic, triple velcro strap closure.

Although not featuring the fancy S-Phyre-esque features of the RC3, the RC1s are actually a tiny bit lighter at a claimed 236 grams. The sizing run in the US is from sizes 40-48 in the men’s shoes – in a black, navy or yellow colour – and sizes 36-44 in the RC1W, in black or navy. In Australia, there’s the choice of black or navy in the RC1 (sizes 36-52) and black only for the RC1W (sizes 36-44). They’re priced at a very accessible US$90 / AU$149.

Something for everyone

There are a host of updates in other categories, too.

For triathletes, Shimano has introduced the S-Phyre-infused TR5 and TR5W triathlon shoes, which feature a wide two-strap velcro opening for easy transitions and a fast drying inner.

For those who shred rather than swim, the mountain bike shoe range includes the entry-level XC3 and XC1 shoes – which follow almost exactly the same beats as the RC3 and the RC1 road shoes detailed above, just with tread on the bottom and in a two-bolt SPD format. And yes, while these aren’t designated as a gravel shoe, there is absolutely nothing preventing you from using them as such.

There are a couple of new Mountain Enduro shoes that I’m sure our friends over at Pinkbike will cover, and there’s even a lace-up Gravity Enduro shoe that would look right at home in a Melbourne skate park circa 2001 (not that I’d know anything about that).

Finally, and at risk of burying the lede, the unsung hero of Shimano’s 2021 shoe rollout is surely the SD501 SPD sandal. These are a redesign of the iconic SD50 product beloved of touring cyclists and independent thinkers worldwide, with a reputation almost as enduring as the company’s famous SPD pedal design.

It is beauty. It is grace.

The SD501 originally made its way into the world as a navy blue 25th anniversary celebration of the original product, whose history Shimano details in an uncharacteristically fun blog post that I’m not at all jealous of not getting to first over here.

For the broader release the SD501 is available in a slightly more dull black, but it’s worth noting that its design provides a generous canvas for your loudest socks. If you buy a pair. Which you absolutely should.

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