Shimano RX8 Gravel Shoes: At The Finish

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.

Shimano RX8 Gravel shoes on a gravel road
Are the Shimano RX8 shoes King Of The Gravel Road?

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 gravel shoes on a fence post
While RX8’s may appear to be MTB XC-ish, these shoes are not that.

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.

RX8 shoes in dead grass in a ditch

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.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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9 thoughts on “Shimano RX8 Gravel Shoes: At The Finish

  1. You hit the nail on the head. I do a mix of “road” and gravel, which makes this almost the perfect shoe for me. Also, they come in wide. Regular width shoes cause problems for me.

  2. These remind me A LOT of my spec S-Works Recon’s, down to the almost identical weight. These are so much cheaper though that they would’ve been the smarter buy…

      1. @Michelle – No, an SPD SL cleat is a three bolt style cleat. These shoes will work with any pedal that uses the two bolt cleat style. So, most any mountain bike pedal and some road style pedals will work. Just make sure they are “two bolt” cleat style pedals.

  3. I bought these shoes based on your first two reviews and am very happy with them. You hit the nail on the head.
    Not tried yet in summer, but with toe covers they’re warm enough for winter (until, but not below 0°C for me).
    I’ve abused them on sharp rocky hiking paths and so far they’re fine. Thanks for the reminder though that I should be a bit more careful with the lugs – less hike-a-bike!

  4. I agree completely with what you say regarding the RX8. Yes it is a bit troublesome to get the shoe on the foot, but otherwise there is no real downside. The rubber lugs on the sole do wear quite quickly, so try to minimize the amount of walking, especially on rough rocky roads as the sole can get rather scratched up.

  5. I’ve actually got pair of these after reading A LOT online. I’ve decided to dig deeper and find whatever I can about them. You are spot on!

    RX8 is a bit tight and takes time to get on the foot (talking about wider foot here) but these are just perfect – as they are a bit wider and that helps a lot.

    I don’t always judge shoes by their look – but these are also very beautiful looking shoes as well, they remind me of few pairs of older leather Puma shoes that I’ve had.

  6. So, just trying to get this straight, as I currently have a pair of RX8s and Shimano XC 7s that are brand new and I’m deciding which one to keep. Do a fair amount of road riding and once or twice a month get out on a proper gravel ride or ride with road and gravel evenly split. Once in awhile it gets a bit burly on a ride to connect sections. So, even if I’m not a racer and they seem to fit well, will I enjoy these. The XC 7s are only 65 grams heavier per shoe, and a bit less stiff 9 out of 11 n Shimano’s scale.

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