REVIEW: Shimano RW80 Winter Cycling Shoe
by Adam Tranter
Well put together and thermally really good, let down by the less than adequate sole.
The first thing that grabs you about these shoes is just how formidable in size they are. Out with the Alpe d’Huez limited edition and bright florescence and in with the bulky black heavyweight bruiser boots. Henry finds out they are good but not that good.
They differ from normal road shoes as they have an ankle in their construction, they are also water resistant and designed to fend off the worst winter rain and wind to keep your feet warm and dry.
Look The Part
There are three thick Velcro straps that cross the shoe, not especially easy to get really tight but the fit is snug as it is. The layers of insulation and leather take some getting into, but once in they feel snug and warm. There is a good amount of arch support and this size 44 allows room for my oversized middle toe.
You may be thinking that a good pair of waterproof overshoes would rival these for keeping water out but you’d be wrong. You need the high levels of insulation, protection against water ingress and the seemingly (so far) bombproof build quality.
They are instantly warm and snug, impervious to weather and fully reinforced whilst still easy to get off your feet after a long cold ride. I’m surprised with how snugly they fit and I have long thin feet which is usually a problem. The Gore-Tex liner keeps the water out and still lets the foot breath, very important for longer rides. I especially like the durable reinforced toe and heel area, which has sandpaper like finish. The ankle is constructed from soft neoprene and it’s easy to get it comfortably tight.
You are paying a premium for the Gore-Tex fabric but it performs really well. The fabric is praised for its ability to let body parts breath whilst keeping external moisture out. There is some neat reflective detailing on the heel to help these all black boots stand out in dark conditions too.
Gore-Tex Materials In Line With The Price
Power delivery is good, much better than I was expecting for a shoe not designed with this in mind. The sole is made from Texon midsole and fibreglass reinforced nylon outer sole to give a really stiff construction. This obviously is not carbon but who needs carbon in a winter shoe? I detected no noticeable flex when pushing hard. The sole is rather thick though and the point of contact between the pedal and foot in the shoe is more than I’m used to, and to compensate I had to raise my saddle slightly. At 750 grams for a size 40 pair they are almost double the weight of an equivalent ‘normal’ road shoe.
A negative is the lack of substantial gripping surfaces on the bottom of the shoe. The toe and heel grippers are small and I can see them being worn down rather quickly, the sole material whilst being stiff is slippery too. It seems as though the uppers, which are really robust, do not match the sole.
In the most atrocious conditions the boots will let some water in and once it does the shoes will not let it out. The water trickles down the leg and under the neoprene ankle guard. To combat this having the neoprene directly onto skin helps create a more secure seal.
The shoe is SPD-SL, SPD and Look cleat compatible. If using an SPD cleat I’d suggest opting for the equivalent mountain bike shoe as that would have enough tread on the sole and would be much easier to walk around in.
The shoes are by no means cheap, at 149.99 they rival many mid to top range road shoes out there, it is also the type of shoe you’ll only wear in the coldest of weather for maybe four months a year. You have to be pretty commited to buy a pair.
After a three hour ride of being constantly lashed with sprinklings of rain and ploughing standing water my feet did get wet. Which is pretty much what they are not designed for, however my feet kept warm. I can see improvements to be made on the sole but I can’t find fault with the uppers, a wise, if a little large investment for the winter training duties.
Where to buy: Madison
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