When you foot is effectively bolted in one position to your pedal there are so many elements to consider in finding the right shoe, especially when you’re going to be racing.
If the shoe fits…
You’ve got comfort to think about as well as power transfer which goes hand in hand with fit and positioning. The last thing you want when you’re out of the saddle is your foot rattling about in the shoe or similarly cutting off your circulation. When you find that perfect shoe it’s easy to be afraid of forking out on a different brand or model and when I’d worn my old shoes to death and stripped the leather after a good few crashes I was reluctant to move on.
However, when the time came to write off the old ones I looked to Shimano who have been developing their performance footwear since 1988.
The new Elite Road Competition shoes from Shimano are super light and super stiff for ultimate power transfer and thanks to the stiff carbon graphite sole this was really noticeable on first impressions. Shimano do a women’s specific shoe (down to a size 36) but as my feet are a 39 I thought I’d check these out. With a carbon graphite sole and secure fit from the ratchet closure and two straps, the shoes not only look great but have all the features needed for high performance use.
These shoes are first and foremost, designed for racing and the stiffness does give added confidence during sprinting and acceleration. It is worth noting that after some significant time in the saddle some riders may find they need a more flexible sole. Shimano’s competition shoes offer unrivalled stiffness and if you try to flex the sole you’ll have a job. When you pull and push on the pedal you feel the power going through the entire foot and not just the area local to the cleat.
For all these benefits, you do need to make sure that the shoe suits the shape of your foot as if you’re trying this stiff design for the first time you may find you feet a little achy after a while. Having said this, they’re not intended for use during hours and hours of steady training which is when you would benefit from a softer shoe and the shoes will wear in with time. The Elite’s are available in “E” widths with roomier toe box. The standard width fitting doesn’t come up as narrow as a lot of standard designs on the market and are generally quite roomy on the whole.
The air vent under the foot helps to keep feet cool and the design features a sponge deep heel cup for extra comfort. The silver and blue understated look is simple but rather impressive. The shoes are compatible with SPD-SL, SPD-R/SPD (with adaptor SM-SH85) and Look pedals.
For those on a budget these probably aren’t the best option but they are well worth the spend if it’s race performance you’re after and Shimano certainly know what they’re doing when it comes to footwear.