Shimano RX8 Gravel Shoes: At The Finish – by Guitar Ted
As I look out the window on the day I am writing up the final review on these shoes, it is beginning to snow. Winter in the Mid-West is no time to be dancing on pedals with shoes made to breathe well and keep your feet cool. That said, with the crazy weather we’ve had around here, I was able to sneak in some rides on some warmer days when the calendar would indicate I shouldn’t have been doing that. Okay……I used shoe covers. But you get the point.
I’ve had a long time to consider what I think about these new shoes. Much of what I have already said about the RX8’s still sticks like glue. But I do have a few additional thoughts here which I will share.
The RX8, to my way of thinking, has taken the best of what a road biking shoe has to offer: stiffness, light weight, and breath-ability, and has married that to a few mountain bike shoe traits without going “full enduro”. Things like the recessed, two bolt cleat, the lugged tread on the soles, and the subtle rubber toe covering. These features are there, and maybe render the RX8 in some folks mind as a candidate for XC mountain bike use, but I would caution against that.
The lugs are there, but they aren’t really enough. Not for mountain scrambling. Walking on gravel, or down a minimum maintenance dirt road? Sure. I’ve done that in these shoes and they work great for that. The material used for the RX9’s uppers is not quite what I would call “robust mountain biking fare”. I have mountain bike shoes, and the RX8’s seem a bit more delicate than those kick’s uppers do. I mean…..yeah, you could use them for mountain biking. No one is going to stop you from doing that, but mountain bike shoes are better at that job.
So why? Why do we need shoes like the RX8’s? That’s the question I see most often when I read comments about these shoes, (despite the maxim that you “should never read the comments“), and it is a fair question. I mean, I used mountain biking shoes for years and did just fine, thank you. Just as many of you readers have, no doubt, done as well. I’ll say this, based upon my experience, and our contributor’s MG’s experiences, as related to me by him.
The RX8 does what a gravel bike does. It takes what was a road thing, for smooth paved surfaces, and it makes it into a rough road, dirt road thing. Gravel riding is not mountain biking, (despite the cross-over at some points), and the demands of road riding are a bit closer related to what we do on gravel “roads” than what people need to have for single track. Therefore; it is my opinion that a slightly modified road shoe is what will do the job best, and Shimano has knocked it out of the park with the RX8.
At The Finish: Okay, so there you have it. Again, I’ll reiterate what I have said before in this three part review. This is a shoe that simply gets out of your way and lets you get on with enjoying the ride. The way it is made, the features that it has, all add up to near perfection for the gravel rider. Of course, you have to get on with Shimano’s fit, but they seem to have nailed it for most riders. (Note- I didn’t say “all riders“) The shoes also are not the quickest to take off or to put on, due to the clam-shell style of the uppers. That said, I cannot come up with anything else to say negatively about these new kicks from Shimano.
I would recommend the RX8 for the commuting cyclist, for the touring cyclist, for the person plying the back roads, and for the gravel racer. The RX8 is made for you. Mountain bikers probably need to look elsewhere, and the RX8 is better than a mountain bike shoe for gravel riding. It’s cooler, stiffer, and doesn’t have anything it doesn’t need to have. Someone else may come up with a better shoe for riding gravel in the future, but for the time being, the RX8 is at the top of the heap.
NOTE: Shimano sent over the RX8 shoes for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.