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Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (RC903) Shoes



Stiff, secure and light yet impressively comfortable race shoes
Arch support is adjustable
Heavy venting not always ideal in the UK...
516g Recommends

This product has been selected to feature in recommends. That means it's not just scored well, but we think it stands out as special. Go to recommends

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (RC903) Shoes are an evolution of the outgoing RC902s, and as a result they're a tiny bit lighter but just as impressively stiff, secure and comfortable as before. Good venting also makes them ideal for hot rides.

If you're looking for new performance footwear, check out our guide to the best road cycling shoes.

Shimano says this version is more rigid at the back than before, and more flexy at the front. That's in the upper, of course – the carbon sole is still rated 12 out of 12 for stiffness, and it's still extremely good at transferring all the power you can muster.

Despite the sole's stiffness, these are very comfortable even over bad surfaces – there's little of the high-frequency buzzing that some can transmit, and I never suffered any sudden, unyielding spanks from them when accidentally hitting potholes. The insole cushions and supports your feet (and arches) very well, without feeling thick or deadening.

The arch support can be adjusted, as the insoles hold inserts in recesses underneath with Velcro-like hook and loop. You can swap the inserts to different thicknesses (sold separately), or remove them completely.

2023 Shimano S-PHYRE RC9 Shoes - instep.jpg

The heel cup is excellent at holding you firm without any discomfort, despite losing the rubberised grippers of the 902 version – which were themselves replacements for the 'cat's tongue' fabric of the ones before. The shaping is good enough it doesn't want for either, and I had no issues with heel lift.

2023 Shimano S-PHYRE RC9 Shoes - rear.jpg

You still get a considerable vent through the heel and sole (you can see straight through the shoe), plus a wide vent just ahead of the cleat.

2023 Shimano S-PHYRE RC9 Shoes - sole heel.jpg
2023 Shimano S-PHYRE RC9 Shoes - sole front.jpg

The perforations in the upper spread further along your foot than previously too, and the result is a shoe that cools very well. A little too well for springtime in Wales, if I'm honest, especially as my feet are already living experiments in what happens at absolute zero.

2023 Shimano S-PHYRE RC9 Shoes - side.jpg

Metatarsal glaciers notwithstanding, my feet have pretty average dimensions, but there's a decent amount of room in the broad forefoot, if the amount I cinch in the front Boa dial is anything to go by. Shimano does a specific 'wide' version if it's still not enough for you, though only in sizes 40-46. There's also a women's version with its own specific shaping.

2023 Shimano S-PHYRE RC9 Shoes - front.jpg

This new version is lighter, but only by 10g overall, or 5g per shoe – realistically that's so small as to be meaningless. The older pair we tested were actually 19g lighter than this new pair, purely because those were size 42 and these are 45. Basically, there's more variation between a few sizes than there is between model years.

I found the sizing just right, as the length is spot on with my heel snugged in tight – that's 'just right' in the cycling sense, where my usual size (45) is one up from my 'street' size (44). There's plenty of room and adjustment for thick or thin socks, too.

2023 Shimano S-PHYRE RC9 Shoes - heels.jpg

The Boa dials are Li2 so micro-adjust both ways (instead of just popping completely loose), which is always a boon.

2023 Shimano S-PHYRE RC9 Shoes - BOA dials.jpg

If you're not keen on black, these also come in white and two spectacularly shiny, metallic-looking colours – blue or blood red. If you want people to know your shoes are properly spendy, go for one of those.


These are £349.99, which is about par for race shoes of this type. That's roughly 10 per cent more than the old version was two years ago, but there's little that hasn't gone up significantly in that time. Except, perhaps, the competence of our glorious leaders...

We recently reviewed the Suplest Edge 2.0 Road Pro shoes, which are more at £369.99, while the Specialized S-Works Ares, which Anna reviewed in 2021, are more again at £375.

Stu really rated the refreshed Giant Surge Pro shoes in his review, and those are a useful chunk cheaper at £299.99 while offering much the same stiffness and weight.

If you want to stick with Shimano, the RC702s that Nick reviewed last year are only a small step down for performance – they're 68g heavier in size 45 than the RC9s, and the Boa L6 dials don't loosen incrementally – but considerably cheaper at £189.99.

Alternatively, the very similar outgoing version of the RC9s – the RC902s – are still around and frequently discounted. At the time of writing, Freewheel (retailer for Shimano importer Madison) was listing them for £239.99.


These are lovely – stiff, efficient and secure, yet very comfortable, even on less-than-perfect road surfaces – and priced fairly for a top of the range race shoe.


Stiff, secure and light yet impressively comfortable race shoes test report

Make and model: Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (RC903) Shoes

Size tested: 45

Tell us what the product is for


Alright Shimano, calm down.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Shimano lists:

-Lightweight and breathable microfiber leather upper provides optimal fit and superior comfort throughout your ride.

-Premium-finish heel cup with anti-twist stabilization secures optimal foot positioning for intense acceleration.

-Sleek, low-profile crossover lacing pattern elegantly secures forefoot.

-360 surround wrapping upper creates a supremely engineered fit for all riders.

-Dual low-profile BOA Li2 dials allow quick and precise micro-adjustments.

-Integrated seamless midsole and upper construction set a new level of fit, stability and lightweight performance.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for fit:
Rate the product for sizing:

Just right in my usual cycling size.

Rate the product for weight:
Rate the product for comfort:
Rate the product for value:

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Wipe off the same as most, and this black version hides scuffs and dirt well.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

They're light, stiff and very comfortable.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

That they're not the red version...

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

They're right where you'd expect for a top-end race shoe.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if you're offering to pay.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

These are stiff and efficient yet very comfortable, and they're light, too. There's really nothing meaningful to complain about. They're excellent.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 183cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,

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