By Rick Schultz
- Notice the name SH-RC701 which has been updated from RC700.
- Ultegra R8000 level shoe, i.e., trickle-down down from Dura-Ace level shoe RC901.
- Note: Latest ‘Dura-Ace’ level shoe is SH-RC902.
- Carbon Fiber Composite Sole (will get to that later).
- DYNALAST which helps to reduce braking loss (will also get to that later)
- Perforated soft, supple high density synthetic leather.
- Dual ‘zone’ BOA L6 and lace guides, same as on RC901.
- Note: SH-902 has been updated to BOA Li2
- Slots for cleat nuts vs holes for expanded cleat adjustment range.
- Stiffness Level 10.
- Will accept most 3-holes cleats: Shimano SPD-SL, Look Keo, Look Delta
- Sizes (Standard & Wide): 38-47 in half sizes, 48, 49, 50 in full sizes
- (Currently, as with many other cycling products) Lack of Availability
- BOA’s only tighten.
Price MSRP: $225 (RC701 SHOES) + $25 (LOOK KEO CLEATS) AS TESTED
Source: Bike shops, Websites
How obtained: Purchased
Summary: 1) Great, light, and stiff high-end shoe for a moderately-low cost. 2) Dura-Ace to Ultegra trickle-down very evident here.
My old SH-R320’s are wearing out. I have been using them for indoor cycling ever since wearing out my SH-R321. For outdoor cycling, I still favor my Lake Cycling CX-332 in custom color day glow green (yes, I chose that color so the cars can see me better). My 320’s are completely soaking wet after a workout, and they never seem to dry completely. So, when I got notified by Shimano that a shipment of their shoes came in, I jumped at the chance to pick up a pair.
On the surface, they look to be well worth the $225 MSRP.
What I Look For In A Cycling Shoe
For my Peloton bike fit clients, I send them a bi-monthly newsletter of the latest products and ways to keep their workout and fitness even better. Last month I discussed shoes. Following is an excerpt.
Size: Width is more IMPORTANT than length, as long as the shoe is long enough, a little longer is acceptable but lass width is not.
Soles: There are (basically) 4 categories of soles, most use a high grade injection molded plastic such as Delrin or Zytel. There are some variations as to what manufacturers are doing now to save themselves a few dollars, but the basic categories are,
- non-filled plastic,
- (fiber) glass-filled plastic (i.e., fiberglass-flock filler),
- carbon-filled plastic (i.e., carbon fiber-flock filler),
- 100% carbon fiber sole – ultimately the best sole.
The RC701 is in category ‘c’ above which is better (i.e., lighter, harder, marginally stiffer than b above but heavier, not as hard, not as still as a 100% carbon fiber sole.
Holes or Slots for Cleat Nuts
I’ve discussed this in detail in several other articles, but the verdict is always the same, buy a shoe that has SLOTS not just a hole, in this case RC701 passes. Also, look for a shoe where the tri-bolt pattern is located a little further aft, not further forward, in this case RC701 passes as well.
Trying Them Out
First thing I do is to see if the shoe passes the first 3 tests above … Does it fit me? Is it at least a category c sole? Does it have slots for the cleat nuts?
Next, I do the twist test. I turn the shoe upside down and twist. A full carbon fiber soled shoe will NOT twist. This shoe twists just a tiny bit which confirms a category ‘c’ sole. This is good for most cyclists and spin bike riders. For the hard-core racer pushing 400w+, I recommend a full carbon-soled shoe.
Lastly, I look at the BOAs. Do they tighten AND loosen by turning? Sadly, for these shoes, the BOAs only tighten. To loosen, you will need to pull up, which disengages them, flex your foot then snap again. The BOAs on my Lake CX 332 rotate one way to tighten and rotate the other way to loosen.
After giving them the once-over, I mounted the cleats. The bike on my trainer as LOOK pedals so I mounted LOOK gray walkable cleats to the shoes. Prior to mounting, I removed the 2 red rubber spacers so I could move the cleats to 100% fit my stance, and, after changing the cleat bolts to stainless steel ones, I also applied a liberal amount of grease to the cleat nuts.
Note: Using a shoe with just holes, I cannot get my feet, nor have I ever been able to get any clients feet into 100% correct position since, I am relying on only the cleat for adjustment. With slots, I can use the cleat as well as the sole of the shoe to move the cleat.
I put them on and jumped on the bike. The right cleat was perfect, the left cleat I had to tweak slightly. Jumping back on the bike again, I did my ‘cleat-placement’ test, this time 100%.
Fired up Rouvy, I decided to give STELVIO a try. From Bormio, it’s a 12.5 mile climb which gains 4,751 feet! In other words, a beast of a climb. Averaging 3.8w/kg, 1 hour and 19 minutes later I was at the top. Shoes worked fine, completely soaked from training indoors.
- As stated earlier, the BOAs only work in one direction. I am used to cycling shoes where the BOAs work in both directions.
- Insoles. The supplied insoles are flimsy, non-supporting floppy pieces of foam. After the ride, I tossed them in the trash can. I replaced them with a pair of ICEBUG insoles, which can be found here. https://icebug.com/icebuginsoles
Other than the two negatives listed above, I couldn’t find any other issue with the shoes. Nowhere but here is the Shimano Dura-Ace to Ultegra trickle-down theory at work. Except for the piece of carbon fiber in the soles of the SH-R901, this shoe is basically the same.
Highly Recommended: 4 out of 5 stars! This is a product I’m keeping.
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist and Bike Fit 101: Your Toolset for a Great Bike Fit in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.