Fantastic mid-range shoes let down by how easy the print finish scuffs
Shimano’s RC7 is tantalisingly close to being the ideal mid-range shoe. It’s lightweight and well-vented, with a stiff carbon fibre sole and easily-adjustable closure mechanism. It also looks good out of the box – but that’s where we have our gripe.
Let’s get that out of the way first, because it’s an aesthetic issue rather than performance-related. The RC7 has a synthetic upper – nothing new there – but whereas most shoes have a matte finish, the RC7 has a glossy black and white print.
It’s a smart look when box-fresh, but the finish is extremely prone to prone to scuffing and scratching – more than a typical cycling shoe. Maybe we just need to be more careful, but it’s all too easy to scuff the finish (particularly around the toe box) on a kerb, pedal or just through day-to-day use.
It’s a shame because if you’re spending £169.99 on a pair of shoes, you want them to stand up to plenty of abuse. Shimano has the same expectations, too, according to PR officer, Ben Hillsdon. “We will now carry out our own testing to try and replicate the issue – we take market feedback like this seriously are always working to make our products the best they can be,” he told RCUK when we raised the issue.
Otherwise, these are fantastic shoes for all the reasons we ran through at the top – you’re getting a lot for your money. The RC7 sits second-top in Shimano’s range, below the flagship S-Phyre RC9, and compares favourably for weight – just 2g separates the two shoes (245g and 243g respectively).
That, in part, is because the S-Phyre RC9 has two Boa dials, whereas the RC7 only has one – but regardless, these are lightweight shoes. The RC7’s Boa dial provides quick, easy micro-adjustment across the top of the foot, while a simple velcro strap adds a little more support lower down.
“The RC7’s sole is perfectly stiff enough for all-round use, whether everyday training or flat-out racing”
When combined, the Boa dial and velcro strap ensure the RC7 provides a snug and comfortable fit. While the synthetic upper isn’t quite as supple as the very lightest top-end shoes, it does a good job of wrapping around the foot, while the toe box offers enough wriggle room to keep things comfy and the heel cup provides a secure grip, though it isn’t lined with the same extra-grippy material as the more expensive S-Phyre RC9.
Ventilation is good, too, with perforations on the upper, a mesh area on the top of the shoe and another vent on the sole. Speaking of which, the sole is made from carbon fibre and is ranked ten on Shimano’s stiffness scale, compared to 12 for the top-end S-Phyre RC7.
Seeing as most brands have their own rankings for these things, the numbers are largely arbitrary – but what we can say is the RC7’s sole is perfectly stiff enough for all-round use, whether everyday training or racing, without feeling like you’re stamping on concrete when you attack on the pedals. It’s a good balance between stiffness and comfort. I used the RC7 shoes for the three-day Haute Route Ventoux sportive and they were ideal for those long, arduous days in the saddle.
The shoes have a three-bolt sole ready to use with most road pedals, with markings to help you line up your cleats properly. You’ll also find rubber bumpers on the toes and heel to offer some off-bike protection – but these aren’t replaceable.
In terms of performance, Shimano’s RC7s are among the best mid-range shoes we’ve tried. For most riders, they will provide everything you want and need from a pair of performance-focused road shoes. It’s a real shame the finish isn’t more durable – the RC7s would set the benchmark if that were the case – but if you can look past that, these are fantastic shoes for the money.
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