Shimano RX801 and RX8R Shoes: Checkpoint

Shimano RX801 and RX8R Shoes: Checkpoint – by Guitar Ted & MG

The news broke earlier this Fall about Shimano’s new gravel shoes, the RX801 and the RX8R. We gave you an introduction which explains all the new stuff here. Check that out if you missed it. In this post both MG and Guitar Ted will share their impressions so far on these gravel kicks. First off…..

Close up of MG wearing the Shimano RX8R shoes with legs crossed on a bridge.
MG kicks back wearing the new Shimano RX8R shoes. Image courtesy of MG

The Good:

MG: First, it’s amazing to me how the new RX8R (and RX801) look very similar to the older RX8, however once you pull them onto your feet, it’s an entirely different story. They’re that much more comfortable. Whereas the original RX8 felt like a race shoe that was too stiff and tight for true long haul use (which for me is 150-350 miles), the RX8R feels like it’d work just fine on a long ride. The revised construction of the uppers conforms to the foot better, with fewer hot spots or pressure points.

Close-up of a Shimano RX8R shoe as worn by MG
Here you can see how the RX8R cuff fits around the ankle of MG. (Image courtesy of MG)

Guitar Ted: I agree with MG. It is easy to look at the RX801 and think that little has changed here. However; all it takes is one try-on and your feet will let you know that your head is all wrong here. These feel 100% different than the originals and all in a good way. They are easier to pull on, have more room in the toe-box, and overall they just feel better to me.

MG: The knit bootie is a feature I truly appreciate after having to dump rocks out of my shoes repeatedly during rides and events over the years. It makes getting into the RX8R a bit of a challenge initially, but I’m getting the hang of it now.

Guitar Ted: Obviously, MG has the RX8R, and I have the RX801’s, so I cannot comment on the cuff thing-a-ma jig. But I will say that both shoes feature the new BOA™ dial which is nicer and with the way that Shimano has split the upper, it pulls across the fore foot more evenly, and that means more comfort. I haven’t had to micro-adjust while riding, but that’s always a great feature in a closure system to have at hand and I appreciate that feature being an option here as well.

The Not-So-Good:

MG: While I appreciate that the RX8R is just a few grams heavier than the RX8, I feel like Shimano missed an opportunity to improve the walking stability of the new shoes with wider, more stable lugs on the outsole. It doesn’t affect performance on the bike, however it’s easy to feel when walking on anything but smooth terrain. And the exposed carbon sections of the sole still get nicked and scratched up pretty quickly, just as they did with the original RX8. That’s a bit of a bitter pill to swallow on a new pair of $300 shoes.

That said, it’s not a deal breaker for me, because on the bike the RX8Rs feel so darn good. And ultimately, if you’re spending that much on a pair of shoes, they’d better feel good, so at least for my feet, they pass the test better than any other shoes I’ve worn lately… and I’ve got a lot of shoes.

A close up of Guitar Ted's legs and the Shimano RX801's on his feet.
GT felt that the stance of the sole’s lugs could be improved for more stability when walking.

GT: I can vouch for this lack of walk-ability and stable footing. I can also see why Shimano doesn’t want to put big, heavier lugs on this stiff, carbon sole. Weight for racers is a bit of an issue, I get that. But I feel like there has to be a better way to do this lugged sole.

The lugs that are there give you too narrow a stance, in my opinion. Placing them outboard on the sole maybe would help here. However; you still would have that open area to the carbon sole which could get pretty ugly looking with use. So…. Tough call there. I’m willing to sacrifice the appearance of the soles for a more stable stance though.

Close up of GT wearing the Shimano RX801 out in a rural setting.

So Far… This is a tough review to do because it is so hard to convey the feeling of this shoe to anyone that hasn’t tried them. I (GT here) can only tell you that MG and I have raved to each other about just how much better these new Shimano gravel shoes feel over there predecessor, the RX8. More comfort, less nits in regards to fit, and they are easier to pull on and take off – well, at least the RX801’s are easier in this regard.

If you have tried the RX8 and were a little put off by certain areas of the fit- the toe box being less than roomy, or that the BOA closure was fiddly, or that the shoe did not draw up evenly across your forefoot- Well, that’s all been addressed with the RX801 and RX8R. Plus, you now have a shoe which can keep grit and dirt out of your feet in the RX8R.

Maybe MG said it best when he said, “Light, stiff, comfortable… The RX8Rs have all three. I’m digging ’em.”

Note: Shimano sent over a pair of RX801’s and RX8R’s to Riding Gravel at no charge for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we 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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