Shimano RX801 and RX8R Shoes: Getting Rolling: by Guitar Ted
Earlier in the week Shimano announced a new gravel show, the RX8R, and an update to the venerable RX8 in the RX801. Riding Gravel has one pair of each to test and review already, and MG and I have already been riding in them. First, let’s take a look at the features and refinements of the RX8R and RX801’s.
What It Is: The RX8R is the new version of the RX8 series that has a very noticeable difference to what you have seen in gravel shoe offerings. (The “R” is for “Rally”, by the way) That would be the knitted cuff that protrudes from the uppers and hugs your upper foot at about the ankle bone. This feature exists to help keep out dirt, grit, water, sand, and pebbles from entering the space between the foot and the opening of the shoes. Besides this obvious feature, the RX8R and the RX801 shoes share similar traits. Both have new, lower profile BOA™ LI2 dials, “vivid inkjet” graphics, and a claimed more breathable upper. Following are the features listed in the press release we were sent:
– BOA Li2 dial
– Lightweight and breathable synthetic leather upper
– Stiff carbon composite sole
– Scratch resistant TPU outsole
– Refined toe box fit
– Vivid inkjet printed graphics
Both models will be available in the following sizes: US Regular Sizes: 38, 39, 40, 41-46 (with half sizes), 47, 48. Also in US Wide Sizes: 40-48. Note: This is the first time the RX8 gravel shoes have been available in half sizes. The RX801 will come in Black, Silver, and a very cool looking pattern called “Tropical Leaves”. The RX8R comes in Metallic Orange only. Prices will be set at MSRP $275.00 USD on the RX801 and $300.00 USD on the RX8R shoes.
First Impressions: I have been using RX8’s for a couple of years now and so has MG. We are both very familiar with the shoe and what its foibles are. Overall, I think Shimano hit it out of the ball park with the introduction of that first RX8, but there was some room for improvement. You can read my take on the shoe here. If you read that final take on the original RX8’s, you’ll note that I was pretty stoked on them, and I have been since. They are my “go-to” shoe when I ride. But there were a couple of nits. I’ll get to that later.
Okay, so all that to say that I had a really high expectation set for a newer version of a shoe I really liked. In fact, you know how it goes sometimes with things like this. You like the product really well. An upgraded version comes out, and it feels like the company made a step or two backward. Well, I am happy to report that the opposite is true with regard to the new RX801 shoes. MG seemed to have similar feedback when I texted him about these.
Shimano claims a better fit overall, better breathability, and a refined BOA™ closure with better adjustability. New half sizes will also help in the fit category, I suppose, as well, but all of this is very noticeable. First, the toe box. The old RX8 was a little close in terms of “wiggle room” for your piggies. In fact, there was hardly anything, to be honest, but the new RX801’s have my toes wiggling with ease, if I want that. To top it off, Shimano has built in a bit more “headroom”, if you will, in the toe box which enhances airflow over the forefoot and thus it makes the RX801 a cooler, more breathable shoe.
I also found that the refined upper and BOA™ closure was clamping down on my instep and drawing the upper around my foot more evenly than before. The rubber ring on the dial should also go a long ways towards making adjustments while I am riding an easier task.
There are a few other very subtle changes, like the heel counter design, but for the most part, the rest of the shoe is the standard RX8 and that’s a really good thing. Obviously, that RX8R’s cuff is another story, and we’ll get some feedback from MG later on regarding that.
So Far… While it may seem, on the surface of it, that the RX801 and RX8R are just “RX8’s” with different colors and one has a cuff”, that would be far too simplistic a take here. The fit is where it is at with this new shoe. It feels a lot better than the old RX8 did, and that shoe was pretty good.
MG will have a go with the RX8R and he will bring us a take on whether or not that knitted cuff is all show and no-go or if it is the real deal.
So, stay tuned as MG and I get miles on the new shoes and we’ll be back with a final take on these shoes in a month or so.
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.