It's been a couple of years since Shimano released their most current flagship race shoe, the R320, but there is a new one coming in 2015, the R321. There is also a brand new R171 shoe which gets many of the same new features but without the same top of the range price tag.
Shimano have focused on fit with this new iteration of the shoe we tested a couple of years ago (and really liked) with a new upper they’re calling ‘Surround’ which the company claims “provides a superb fit, extra comfort and maximum pedalling efficiency.” Which sounds jolly good.
This new Teijin Avail 100 Ultra fine-fiber upper, which can be custom moulded, along with a new special heat-mouldable film inside the arch and upper instep, should significantly boost support and offers, claims Shimano, a glove-like fit. There’s also a new anti-slip lining in the heel to prevent heel lift.
Comparing the new shoe to the old one, it does appear Shimano have offset the velcro and buckle to the side of the shoe and tried to put more of the custom mouldable upper over the top of the foot.
Elsewhere there is the mandatory carbon fibre sole with a hollow channel design. Shimano have provided an extra 11mm of fore-aft cleat adjustment which will be well received, especially with bike fitters.
Shimano carry over the twin Velcro strap and top ratchet closure arrangement from the previous shoes, with the buckles easily adjustable with double pivot rotational mounts. To keep your tootsies cool Shimano have used a 3D breathable mesh with vents in the toe cap and exhaust ports, which sounds a bit like what you’d expect from a helmet manufacturer.
The new R321 shoe in a size 40 weighs a claimed 245g per shoe. That sounds light, but it's only when you pick it up do you realise how light that really is. Sizes available include 36, 37-47 in half sizes, 48 Wide type size: 36, 37-47 in half sizes, 48. Black or white are your colour choices.
Don’t go rushing to the shop to get yourself a pair though, they won’t be available until spring 2015. When they are available, they’ll cost £299.99
If that sounds a bit rich, then you’re in luck because Shimano have also added the new R171 to their 2015 range. This new shoe incorporates many of the design changes seen on the range-topping R321, including the new 'Surround' upper and offset straps and adjustable ratchet mechanism, with the same Dynalast sole technology.
The main difference is the materials used, a standard synthetic leather, and there’s none of the Custom Fit heat-mouldable technology. That not impacts the price (which we expect to be about £150) but also the weight, with a claimed 486g for a shoe (size 40).
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.