Shimano S-Phyre Insulated Shoe Covers - review
Top-end overshoes that provide excellent protection from the elements, but the fabric is prone to stretching
Shimano has been expanding its flagship range of pro-level S-Phyre apparel over past couple of years, most recently with the launch of a new range of eyewear, and these S-Phyre Insulated Shoe Covers arrived ready for winter. They are exceptional overshoes for the most part, going a long way to justifying their top-end price tag.
The overshoes are made from a neoprene fabric with a rubberised outer. While most neoprene overshoes will take on water in heavy rain, even if the fabric itself continues to insulate your feet (much like a wetsuit), the neoprene used for the S-Phyre overshoes is 100 per cent waterproof. I've worn these in some fairly biblical conditions and nothing will get through. The seams are also bonded, so you're well protected.
They are warm, too, using something called 'Metallic Thermal Tech'. According to Shimano, the fabric is designed to "reflect infrared radiation released by the body. That radiation in turn warms up the layer of air between the fabric and the skin, helping to keep the temperature inside the clothing warm and comfortable." We're getting fairly techy here but the bottom line is Shimano's S-Phyre overshoes kept my feet warm through the recent sub-zero blast.
Shimano S-Phyre Insulated Shoe Covers
There are no zips or velcro here, instead you're relying on the stretch of the fabric to pull the overshoes on and off. Some overshoes can be a bit of a nightmare before or after a ride but these are some of the easiest I've used, and the fabric wraps itself closely around the shoe. It's inherent flexibility means you can still adjust Boa dials through the fabric, though ratchet buckles are a little trickier and velcro or laces obviously a no-go. The flexibility of the fabric also ensures the overshoes don't cause any discomfort while pedaling.
The fabric is durable, too, and hasn't picked up any nicks or cuts despite being regularly pulled over roughed up cleats. Sure, the fabric isn't box-fresh anymore, with visible creases appearing on the outer, but there's no genuine damage. Meanwhile, the bottom of the overshoes employ a tough, reinforced fabric, with holes for your cleat and heel, and this also hasn't shown any signs of scuffing after a couple of months of regular use.
What else is there to mention? Well, there's a reflective strip on the back of each overshoe, while the styling is smart, too, with S-Phyre branding on the cuff and aero dimples on the main body, even if they are largely an aesthetic addition. The fabric is also easy to wipe clean after a filthy ride, with nowhere obvious for dirt to accumulate.
There's a lot to like here, then. In fact, these are some of the best overshoes I've used - but there's one main flaw to mention. Like a lot of people, I like to roll my overshoes down when taking my shoes off after a ride (if it's been dry, that is), so they only need to be pulled back up when hitting the road again. It just saves a bit of faff before a winter ride, when there's already enough kit to pull on.
"There's a lot to like here. In fact, these are some of the best overshoes I've used"
However, while the neoprene fabric is super-stretchy, it doesn't easily retain its shape if it has been under stress for a sustained period of time. If you take the overshoes completely off after every ride then it's not a problem, but by rolling them down the fabric is effectively being stretched until you ride again, which can result in the cuff becoming a little baggy around the lower calf.
All overshoes are prone to water creeping in through the sole or cuff (even the shin-high Spatz overshoes we tested recently), but that process is sped up if the neoprene doesn't sit flush to the leg and water can quickly run in. Once I noticed this I started taking the S-Phyre overshoes completely off after every ride and they've pretty much reverted to their original shape, but it's something worth avoiding in the first place.
Shimano's S-Phyre Insulated Shoe Covers are extremely good overshoes. They offer excellent warmth and protection from the elements, are easy to pull on and off, and offer plenty of reinforcement on the sole. The super-flexible fabric ensures the overshoes are comfortable and you can adjust Boa dials on the fly, but it's advisable to take them completely off after every ride to stop the fabric becoming stretched.
- Extremely warm and waterproof fabric
- Reinforced sole
- Easy to get on and off
- Classy styling
- Fabric prone to stretching under stress