Shimano RX8 Gravel Shoes: Checkpoint

Shimano RX8 Gravel Shoes: Checkpoint – by Guitar Ted

Shimano is no stranger to shoes for cycling, having been doing the “SPD” (Shimano Pedal Dynamics) thing since the early 90’s. They have continued to be at the top of the game in mountain and road shoes/pedal systems since then, but what about gravel/all-road? Shimano stakes a claim here with their latest shoe, the RX8, which we introduced to you in our last post on these shoes here.

Guitar Ted modeling the Shimano RX8 gravel shoe.
Shimano stakes a claim to become a dominant brand in the gravel world with the RX8.

Riding Performance: Since my initial impressions on these shoes, I have had no reason to walk back anything I have already said about the RX8’s. In fact, they have since gone up the scale to become my favorite cycling shoes. Here following are some of “The Good” reasons why, and then I’ll discuss any nit-picks I have in the “Not So Good” list.

Guitar Ted modeling the Shimano RX8 gravel shoes
Got Wet Feet? The RX8’s drain quickly, dry up fast, and are not fazed by mud.

The Good”:

  • Fit: The way these shoes can be adjusted is key, but overall, the fit is just spot on. Not too loose in the heel, but not too snug. The heel and tongue at the opening is soft, so it doesn’t chafe or cause soreness. The toe box is roomy. All good in this hood. Your mileage may vary due to your foot shape/size, but I think Shimano has a winner in the fit of the RX8.
  • Comfort: Obviously, the fit has to be there, but beyond this, the RX8 exhibits excellent airflow over the top of the foot, so these are very comfortable on hot rides. I experienced no “hot spots”, undue pressure, or other on-ride maladies some shoes can create.
  • Walk-ability: Some may think being able to have good walk-able cycling shoes on gravel rides is not necessary. Okay for you, but where I ride, hike-a-bike is an oft used part of our cycling vernacular. One simply does not use a shoe that is uncomfortable, or poor at walking, around these parts. The RX8 shines here, and if you get into the mud, or water, the good news is that the RX8 dries out, drains well, and is easy to clear of mud and dirt if you have to do that.

“Not So Good”:

  • Getting In: One of my only nit-picks about the RX8 is getting them on. The upper really doesn’t have a traditional “tongue”, but rather, it has a sort of overlapping clam shell arrangement that, due to the constraints of the BOA system, make entry a bit fiddly. Not a deal killer by any means, but it is what it is.
  • Air Flow Almost Too Good: If you suffer from cold feet, these may be an issue in anything but Summer’s hot days. I found that I had to consider covering the toes up after the temperatures dropped into the lower 50’s, and I have pretty warm feet. The air flow over the foot is that good, at least for me. I solved my issue with a “dirt bag” solution by using a typical plastic shopping bag, cut down, and worn over the foot as a vapor barrier.
RX8 gravel shoes on a tail gate

Beyond those standout thoughts, the RX8 is definitely a performance shoe when thinking about pedaling. These are definitely high on the efficiency scale, and I’d rank these just below the Bont shoes I tested last year. The ability to adjust the BOA on the fly is great too. I utilized that feature several times on my rides to make my feet happy.

Riding Gravel’s contributor, MG, also has a pair of the new RX8 shoes which he has been putting to the test. I asked him how he was getting along with these kicks and he stated, “I love how stiff and efficient the RX8’s feel on the pedals. They let my feet relax a bit”. I was made aware by MG’s comments that this was also something that I was experiencing. I think one reason that I didn’t think about that was that it was an enjoyable experience. We often think about negatives, and we let the positives kind of go as being “not noticeable”, which leads me to……

So Far…. As is often said, the best apparel and components simply “disappear” while riding, leaving you to enjoy the ride. The RX8 shoes from Shimano are the definition of such an apparel item. While either walking a gnarly, muddy dirt road or riding up and down hill and vale, the RX8 just got out of my way and let me do my thing. But more than that, it allowed me to be more efficient at riding too. I cannot ask for much more than that.

That said, these are not MTB shoes, as MG shared with me. He said you are probably better off with MTB specific shoes, even for “light” MTB use. While we both agree that the RX8’s are some of the best cycling shoes we’ve ever ridden with, I would have to agree that they are much more a cross-over to road usage than mountain bike. But each rider will have to decide for themselves on that point.

Stay tuned for the “At The Finish” review on the RX8 shoes coming soon.

NOTE: Shimano sent over the RX8 shoes for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.

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9 Responses to Shimano RX8 Gravel Shoes: Checkpoint

  1. Dennis Keane October 16, 2019 at 8:36 am #

    Bought a pair of wides at my LBS based on your first intro post. Have used them half a dozen times or so and agree with all your points. I came from only having used very flexible mountain biking shoes, and the stiffness is definitely a big plus. Thanks for reviewing this item, very helpful.

  2. DT October 17, 2019 at 4:52 pm #

    The Shimano rep at Gravel Worlds claimed that the lugs on the sole were specifically designed to fit perfectly on their mtb pedals, like the PD-M8100. These are the “race” version, not the “trail” version with the outer support structure. Can you confirm that the rubber lugs rest evenly on the pedal body? He claimed that this was to effectively give the rider a larger platform to transfer power to; which would definitely make sense if the two fit together as he described.

    • Guitar Ted October 17, 2019 at 5:20 pm #

      @DT- We will check into this. Currently I am using some lower end Shimano SPD’s, but we just got in some XT level pedals, (not trail versions) and so I can check that claim out.

    • MG October 21, 2019 at 10:59 am #

      @DT: I can confirm the RX-800s interface perfectly with both the XT PD-M8100 and XTR PD-M9100 pedals. I have them both and have used both extensively with my RX-800s.

      • DT October 22, 2019 at 6:50 am #

        Thanks MG! These just moved up higher on my list

  3. Steve October 18, 2019 at 10:30 am #

    No half sizes? I fall between a 41 and 42 according to their chart. I wonder how they fit compared to Giro Terraduros, which I find very comfortable in a 41. I’d probably do well with either the 41 wide or 42 standard RX8 I’d guess.

  4. MG October 22, 2019 at 9:21 am #

    @Steve: I’d definitely recommend taking the time to find a stocking Shimano dealer to try the RX8s on. While I’m typically a 45 in most shoes (Terraenduros included), the RX8s fit differently – perhaps a bit more on the narrow side – than the Giros. For my long, skinny foot, that’s a benefit, but your mileage may vary.

    @DT: You’re welcome! I hope they work out for you. Please keep us posted.

  5. Mac November 6, 2019 at 12:15 pm #

    What does more of a road shoe than an MTB XC shoe mean? Asking because I have only ever ridden MTB and never even put on a road shoe, but, I am looking to get a pair of shoes for a gravel bike I am building.

    • Guitar Ted November 6, 2019 at 1:36 pm #

      @Mac- The RX8 has minimalist lugs and not a lot of reinforcement for support and protection around the ankles, as many MTB shoes have. It has a lighter build than most MTB shoes as well. More road-less MTB, although it certainly has elements of both.

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by Riding Gravel 2014