For one reason or another, Shimano’s flagship S-Phyre RC902 is one road shoe that has somehow managed to evade my grasp over the years. But, now in its third generation, I finally got my hands on a pair of these high-end cycling kicks for review.
The latest S-Phyre RC902 has the highest stiffness rating of 12 thanks to a rigid carbon sole that’s semi-concealed by an upper that almost completely wraps around the bottom of the shoe in what Shimano calls a 360° Surround, while new BOA Li2 micro dials and a revamped heel-cup ensure a fine-tuned fit. Also, the shoe is treated to a new toe box, relying on a rounded profile this time, resulting in a less-aggressive taper from the tip of the shoe to the midfoot.
Elsewhere, the S-Phyre RC902 retains the same independent top strap that’s tensioned via one of the Li2 dials, along with lots of perforations on the upper combined with air vents at the front and back of the sole, giving the shoes copious amounts of ventilation. Also carried over are Shimano’s high-density cup insoles with adaptable arch pads.
All in, Shimano claims the S-Phyre RC902 tips the scales at a feathery 242 grams in a size 42.
Regarding fit, I’d say the S-Phyre RC902 was true to size, spot-on for my size 43 dogs, providing ample roominess with the ability to fine-tune snugness via the shoe’s retention system.
But, before heading out on the road, one thing that remained suspect was how the shoe’s detached top strap would securely anchor my foot, especially when stomping hard on the pedals in a sprint, or during spirited out-of-the-saddle exploits.
On the contrary, during sojourns both short and long, the S-Phyre RC902’s upper turned out to be properly designed, providing a secure fit from instep to forefoot, conceding nothing in the way of structural support during all riding conditions.
Additionally, given the S-Phyre RC902’s lightweight design and plentiful ventilation, the shoes always felt light and airy, even when the mercury was spiking and humidity filled the air, while the stiff carbon sole thwarted any concerns for the dreaded “road buzz”.
As with saddles, cycling shoes are a highly personal piece of equipment, as what works for some may not work for others.
For me, excellent comfort, proper ventilation, optimal power transfer and a simple and effective retention foremost describes this latest generation of the Shimano S-Phyre RC902. A winner indeed!
However, these accolades come at a price, as the shoes fetch a hefty $425
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