Monday, July 31, 2023
HomeCyclingEvaluation: Shimano S-PHYRE RC903 Street Footwear

Evaluation: Shimano S-PHYRE RC903 Street Footwear


Worn and examined by a number of prime professional riders, together with Mathieu van der Poel, Primož Roglič, Romain Bardet, and Lorena Wiebes, the S-PHYRE RC903 is the third incarnation of Shimano’s top-shelf street racing shoe. Gentle, stiff, and cozy are three apt adjectives. What else might you ask for in a pair of footwear?


Sure … I do know … these are costly footwear. However so are the top-of-the-line footwear from each different shoe producer. If you’d like what the professionals experience, it prices. So when you have the $$$ and wish to look the half (whether or not you’ll be able to experience the half is between you and your bike), the brand new Shimano S-PHYRE RC903 is a kind of footwear to place in your procuring checklist. To steal a phrase from the 90s used for a well-known basketball participant (arguably the GOAT), you might be like Mathieu.

As an alternative of being like Mike, you might be like Mathieu (strive to not be like Caleb!)

The RC903 is the subsequent era S-PHYRE. I beforehand reviewed the RC902 (which suggests in case you’re a cut price shopper, you could possibly discover the prior mannequin discounted). One of many issues I wrote about them was that they “could be probably the most comfy biking footwear I’ve ever worn. Learn on for my tackle the RC903s.

S-PHYRE RC903 Males’s – $450


Options per Shimano:

  • Light-weight and breathable microfiber leather-based higher supplies optimum match and superior consolation all through your experience
  • Premium-finish heel cup with anti-twist stabilization secures optimum foot positioning for intense acceleration
  • Glossy, low-profile crossover lacing sample elegantly secures forefoot
  • 360º encompass wrapping higher creates a supremely engineered match for all riders
  • Twin low-profile BOA Li2 dials enable fast and exact micro-adjustments
  • Built-in seamless midsole and higher building set a brand new degree of match, stability and light-weight efficiency

Males’s obtainable in 4 colours (white, blue, crimson, black), sizes 40-48 (half sizes obtainable 40-46.5), additionally huge sizes 40-46

NOTE: As with all footwear, take note of the producer’s sizing charts/guides. Each producer is totally different. Simply since you put on a selected dimension in a single model shoe doesn’t imply that you simply’ll put on the identical dimension in one other model. There is no such thing as a such factor as “commonplace sizing” in the case of footwear. There’s additionally a “misplaced in translation” issue to think about. I’m typically a US dimension 9 in the case of road or athletic footwear, however the equal Euro sizing might be totally different between totally different producers (I’ve worn as small as Euro 42 and as massive as Euro 43.5 from totally different producers). Shimano specs Euro dimension 43 for my US dimension 9 ft and the match is spot on. As all the time, strive before you purchase is all the time a good suggestion.


In a case of “don’t repair what ain’t broke,” the RC903 makes use of the identical microfiber leather-based higher and 360º encompass wrapping (suppose “burrito”) in order that as you tighten the shoe, it pulls extra evenly from each side for higher match/consolation. The consequence is identical comfy match with the RC903 match that I’ve with the RC902: I can’t inform you that it pulls evenly from each side, however I can inform you that the wrapping impact may be very comfy. It feels just like the higher surrounds your foot with even stress as you tighten down the BOA dials.

The seam that joins the 2 halves of the higher collectively

One other facet of the RC903’s 360º encompass design/building is that the carbon fiber sole isn’t totally uncovered like lots of different footwear

With the insole eliminated, you’ll be able to see all of the black carbon fiber goodness

BOA dials are ubiquitous on street race footwear (the RC903 makes use of the BOA Li2 dials), however what’s totally different from many different footwear is that the RC903’s BOA dials pull the laces throughout the shoe in reverse instructions. This design characteristic goes hand-in-hand with the burrito building, pulling the shoe closed from each side in order that the shoe wraps extra evenly/comfortably round your foot.


In the event you’re new to BOA dials: push down to interact them, flip ahead (inexperienced arrow) to tighten (on both the left or proper shoe), flip backward (crimson arrow) to loosen, and pull as much as fast launch them

Additionally ubiquitous on street race footwear is 3-hole cleat mounting. Shimano really has a cleat setting system, nevertheless it requires a Brannock machine (the factor shoe shops should measure shoe dimension and I don’t have one) to measure the variations in heel-to-toe measurement and arch measurement to find out cleat placement. I used to be capable of get my foot positioned the place I prefer it (with the ball of my foot simply ever so barely ahead of the pedal axle) by mounting my cleats (Wahoo Speedplays) way back to potential.

Shimano doesn’t make a Speedplay-specific shoe, so 3-holes means I wanted to make use of adapters for my 4-hole Speedplay cleats

Shimano says they used 3D information to raised perceive how riders apply stress all through the pedal stroke and optimized the brand new RC903 form and supplies to maximise energy switch whereas sustaining consolation. There’s no manner for me to investigate/assess this. That means, I can’t say that energy switch is maximized relative to the RC902 or every other biking shoe. However I can say the RC903’s carbon sole is lots stiff for placing down energy and that doesn’t come on the expense of consolation.

Spinal Faucet could be proud that Shimano’s stiff carbon sole goes all the way in which as much as twelve!

Shimano additionally says the brand new RC903’s higher building is extra inflexible towards the rear of the shoe to carry the foot securely in place, however extra versatile and elastic supplies are used up entrance to extend consolation. Once more, I’ve no method to measure how inflexible the rear of the shoe is or versatile the entrance is and evaluate that to the RC902 or every other biking shoe. However I can say that my heel suits comfortably and securely (no slip or elevate). My forefoot is held firmly, however comfortably, in place. And the toebox is roomy sufficient such that my toes aren’t squished collectively and have room to unfold out as I apply stress to the pedals, however not so roomy that my toes are swimming in it.

The heel cup is a brand new safe, anti-twist design/building

The replaceable heel pad is screwed in place from the within

One factor that’s noticeably totally different/new on the S-PHYRE RC903 is the forefoot lacing. Per my evaluation of the RC902: One fascinating characteristic of the BOA system on the S-PHYRE RC902s is the Powerzone lace information within the forefoot, which lets you primarily double the lace pull to create further lace pull if you need a tighter match. Shimano selected to delete this characteristic within the RC903. As an alternative the lacing runs in a determine 8 sample and isn’t adjustable. Shimano claims the result’s improved flexibility of the shoe’s higher and diminished threat of sizzling spots. If this transformation is meant to make the RC903 “higher” than the RC902, I actually can’t say that my ft felt any noticeable variations between the 2. Put one other manner: my ft have been simply as pleased within the RC903s because the RC902s.

The RC903 does away with the RC902’s Powerzone lace information (inset)

Toe “bumpers” up entrance

I’m penning this within the lifeless of winter, however there’s no mistaking that the Shimano S-PHYRE RC903 is a heat/sizzling climate shoe with all of its air flow options.

That’s a complete lotta holes!

The insole has air flow holes

Entrance consumption

Rear exhaust

As it’s winter, I’ve managed just a few outside rides however most of my using within the Shimano S-PHYRE RC903s has been indoors. However indoor using is a reasonably good check of footwear as a result of even quick stints on the good strainer contain fixed pedaling having to place down energy with no freewheeling. Any uncomfortable-ness goes to present itself early and infrequently. Not a difficulty for me with the RC903s.

The opposite factor that indoor using makes recognized fairly shortly is what I name “carbon sole fatigue” (as a result of there’s by no means any let up on the pedals to beat the resistance load imposed by a sensible coach). You desire a carbon sole must be stiff for environment friendly energy switch, but when it’s too stiff it might “push again” and trigger discomfort with stress factors or sizzling spots on the underside of your foot. Once more, not a difficulty for me with the RC903s.

Strike a pose … vogue

The Shimano S-PHYRE RC903 is a full-on race shoe with all of the bells and whistles, however the phrases I maintain coming again to are “consolation” and “comfy.” For me, having the ability to put down energy doesn’t do me a lot good if my ft aren’t comfy in my footwear to maintain pedaling (particularly on lengthy rides). So in case you’re keen/capable of drop 4 C-notes plus change on a brand new pair of biking footwear, the Shimano S-PHYRE RC903 could be that pair of footwear that finds that ever elusive candy spot that maximizes each consolation and stiffness.

Heat winter climate within the SC lowcountry

S-PHYRE RC903W Girls’s – $450

Girls’s in white, sizes 36-44 full sizes


That Shimano is providing a ladies’s shoe on par with its finest males’s shoe is necessary. There’s no cause ladies shouldn’t have the identical high quality gear. Biking has been a male dominated sport, however the hole between female and male cyclists is narrowing:

  • Of the 103 million individuals who rode a motorbike in 2020, 26% have been ladies and about 39% have been males, in response to a survey carried out by the PeopleforBikes Basis
  • 60% of bicycle homeowners between the ages of 17 and 28 are ladies, in response to an August 2013 report by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB)


Furthermore, in market estimated to develop to $34.6 billion by 2027, biking corporations could be remiss to disregard the truth that ladies management or affect 85% on shopper spending (US and worldwide) and buy over 50% of conventional male merchandise (within the US). And ladies are an necessary a part of the sports activities and sporting items market. For instance, ladies make 60 % of the purchases within the working market.


From a technical standpoint, the ladies’s model of the RC903 is identical as the lads’s. Which means the identical artificial leather-based higher, 360° “burrito” building, stiff carbon fiber sole, and BOA Li2 micro-click 2-way adjustable dials. In different phrases, all of the necessary stuff that makes the RC903 a top-shelf shoe.

Similar carbon fiber sole, wrap round building, and BOA Li2 dials as the lads’s RC903

There are two main variations between the ladies’s RC903W and the lads’s RC903. The primary is visible. The lads’s white RC903 is principally all white (with black S-PHYRE graphics). The ladies’s shoe can be white (and is just obtainable in white) however transitions to a pearlescent/iridescent-like silver sample behind the shoe (and the S-PHYRE graphics are silver). As an apart, IMHO it’s refreshing to see a producer not resorting to pink to distinguish a ladies’s product.

The white to pearlescent/iridescent fade on the ladies’s RC903W (backside) units it other than the extra “plain” males’s RC903 (prime)

Completely flash

The second distinction is invisible: the RC903W ladies’s mannequin final form is designed particularly for ladies with a decrease quantity and narrower match. After all, footwear match everybody’s ft otherwise (as a result of everybody’s ft are totally different) so strive before you purchase is all the time beneficial.



Match-wise, when my spouse first tried on the RC903W she discovered the heel cup held her heel firmly with no slip and the higher was comfy round her midfoot with the BOA dials cinched up snugly, however the toebox was a bit tight. My spouse has a comparatively excessive arch and that was with the usual yellow arch helps. After swapping out the yellow for the crimson (greater arch) helps, her ft match nice all the way in which round. Simply an instance that particulars matter and another excuse why strive before you purchase is all the time a good suggestion.

You probably have a better arch, you’ll most likely need the crimson arch helps

Consolation-wise, my spouse discovered the S-PHYRE RC903Ws to be very comfy. In her phrases, “a shoe that feels such as you don’t have it on.” That’s excessive reward, certainly. However for full disclosure: not as comfy as her beloved Carnacs from the 90s.

Journey-wise, my spouse’s RC903Ws did what they’re presupposed to do, i.e., switch energy on to the pedals. And pedaling was comfy (there’s that phrase once more) for her — no stress factors or sizzling spots.

NOTE: My spouse did have one “criticism.” She loves my blue S-PHYRE RC902s and needs Shimano made the ladies’s RC903Ws in blue.


Once I reviewed the Shimano S-PHYRE RC902s, I wrote: “if all you’re doing is shorter distance rides, it could be laborious to justify the price.” However my spouse’s expertise with the RC903W has me re-thinking that. She doesn’t experience as many miles or as critically as she used to (there was a time once I was coming again to biking after a 15 12 months hiatus off the bike that she was using extra miles than me and there have been occasions once I needed to work to remain on her wheel). Her using now isn’t about efficiency per se and tends to be extra “informal” (usually espresso rides with me), however when she does experience she desires technical equipment that’s fashionable and cozy. Whereas the RC903W is definitely a efficiency shoe, it’s additionally (for my spouse) a really comfy shoe (and bear in mind what I wrote in regards to the prior era RC902: “could be probably the most comfy biking footwear I’ve ever worn. ) So even in case you’re not using a ton of miles, consolation remains to be necessary and at a premium — and that could be value the price (plus some added incentive/motivation to experience). Meals for thought.

My spouse needed blue, however Shimano solely makes the RC903W in white

You don’t should be as quick as Lorena Wiebes (the present European Street Race champion) to experience the Shimano S-PHYRE RC903W. You simply should wish to experience in a pair of very comfy (and trendy IMHO) footwear.

All within the household

I do know this can be too cute, however …

Hubby-wifey completely matchy-matchy

• Discover a vendor close to you on the Shimano web site right here.

Notice: You probably have different experiences with gear or one thing so as to add, drop us a line. We don’t declare to know all the pieces (we simply suggest it at occasions). Give us a pat on the again in case you just like the evaluations or a slap within the head in case you really feel the necessity!

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