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The Shimano RX8 Gravel shoe

Shimano has pushed to the front of the race in the performance shoe category, and their relatively new RX8 gravel shoe rides that tight spot between being a road shoe and a mountain bike shoe. However, they have a number of distinct features that set them apart and into a class of their own. 

THE TREAD

Here’s where the rubber meets the road – and the pedals. The RX8 is built on an extremely stiff carbon sole (Shimano calls it a 10 out of 11 stiffness), and has longer and flatter tread blocks. The goal, we believe, is to minimize any rocking from side-to-side once clipped in and give the rider a more stable pedal-to-shoe interface. 

Bottom of RX8 cycling shoes with carbon soles and two hole cleat mounts

However, there is less tread than a mountain bike specific shoe. Think of these as being more of a road shoe than a mountain one. Walking is certainly easier than a traditional road shoe, but these are not meant to be an epic backcountry XC shoe where hike-a-bikes are the norm. There is also no option for toe spikes, which takes the RX8 out of contention for those looking for an all conditions ‘cross shoe.

The reduction of tread also cuts weight down. The shoes are noticeably light out of the box, and our size 42’s with crankbrothers cleats installed came to 615 grams for the pair. 

DESIGN AND DETAILS

The upper design uses a 2/3rds BOA system with the toe adjustments using a velcro strap. The outer is streamlined and aero, probably to help shed mud. 

RX8 BOA lace closure system

Other details include a re-enforced rubber toe bumper of ventilation holes – something we appreciate during those hot rides in the canyons. 

THE FIT

The RX8 differentiates itself from its mountain bike cousin in fit. Like other shoes in their line, the RX8 uses Shimano’s customizable arch supports and provides standard and high arch inserts in the box. 

High arch support options

The heel cup is also “deeper” and more padded to hold the foot securely in place for increased efficiency. More padding equals a slightly snugger fit, but not enough to change sizes. And like all shoes, the padding will likely break in and form to the rider’s foot. 

Like Shimano’s sizing system, the RX8 is available in standard and wide options. 

RX8 gravel cycling show in silver colorway.

PERFORMANCE

There’s no question that these shoes are stiff, snug, and put your power to the pedals. If you’re a rider specializing in gravel and mixed media rides and spend very little time clipped out, then these may be the perfect option – especially when compared to more expensive brands with similar features.