Along with the new GRX groupset, Shimano has added a few more items to round out their gravel offering. Part of that is the new Shimano RX8 Gravel Shoes. Built with stiff, carbon outsoles, BOA IP1’s and a race-oriented fit, the RX8’s made their debut in the 2019 Dirty Kanza. And, they made their debut on my feet later that year.
Shimano RX8 Features:
- Built for gravel or adventure riding
- Single BOA IP1 closure with Velcro lower
- Lightweight TPU lugs for traction
- SPD cleat compatible
- Available in wide widths
- Whole sizes only
- Carbon outsole stiffness 10 of 11
- MSRP: $250
Shimano RX8 are masters of gravel
Yes, Shimano has their hands in a ton of different pots. With that, some might suggest that they can’t really specialize and do well in so many areas. I mean, fishing reels and bike shoes? There’s not much in common there and both happen to be outstanding examples of their dedication to product quality and function — across a broad spectrum of products. Last year, I rode the Shimano XC5 lace-up gravel shoes and absolutely loved them. The fit was superb and the price-to-performance ratio is outstanding. My main gripe was that the outsoles weren’t as stiff as I’d like them to be.
Well, my wish was granted with the all-new Shimano RX8 gravel shoe that features a 10/11 stiffness ratio — BOOM! Translation: “they’re stiff enough for everyone but WorldTour sprinters.” That said, I’ll just go ahead and cover that aspect right now — power transfer is superb. These shoes deliver power in spades and nobody in their right mind would ever call them into question. Every pedal stroke is rewarded with immediate action and yet they remain walkable, thanks to their rubber lugs.
As far as the rubber outsoles go, the RX8’s are significantly more walkable than road shoes on dirt/gravel, but don’t confuse these with a proper MTB shoe — they’re not going to be good for extended hike-a-bike sections. But, for mixed roads and smooth trails, these grip well and walk smoothly. The forefoot treads did need a little artificial wear to allow proper float with the variety of pedals tested (LOOK X-Track Race, Time ATAC XC8 and Time Cyclo). I just stood on the sidewalk and twisted each foot on the ground to remove a little material until I got the proper pedal clearance. It was the easiest way to take off a little bit of material at a time and took me about a minute to fix. Depending on your tread/pedal clearance, you might have to do the same.
The uppers are wonderful. Shimano chose to go with a burrito wrap upper that cradles your feet with precision. With that, the shoe doesn’t just compress from the top or from both sides, but instead wraps your foot with even pressure across the top. Comfort level is superb and cinching duties are done by the BOA IP1 fit system (the best on the market). Dialing in the fit is a breeze. Removing the shoes is also a breeze, but re-entry requires that you pull the closure wide open (i.e. pull most of the BOA cables out) before slipping your feet in there. If you’re struggling getting them on, as I initially did, simply pull those cables on out and it’s much, much easier.
My feet are locked into these shoes for optimal pedaling over long distances. Both heels stay locked in place and my entire foot is cradled for hours in the saddle. The construction of the RX8 includes a molded heel cup, which adds to the fit and power transfer. I’ll add that there’s a generous toe bumper that protects the front of the shoes from damage or tire contact on tight terrain.
I’ve worn these without shoe covers in the 40’s just fine (I just wore thicker socks). And, I’ve worn them well into the upper 70’s with thinner socks. They breathe well and remain comfortable. Overall durability has been outstanding and these shoes are ready to rock the gravel for years to come. I did test these for MTB use as well and they aren’t my favorite for that purpose, due to the minimalist treads, but they can certainly serve double-duty.
Installing cleats securely is typically just a “tighten it really good” effort. There aren’t any torque settings here that I’m aware of and I just tightened them down as I would with all cleats and have had no issues. Both SPD and TIME cleats have stayed put without issue.s
Sizing: I typically wear a 44.5 road shoe and found the 45’s to be the perfect length and width.
- Excellent overall fit with burrito-style foot wrap
- Stiff carbon soles
- BOA IP1 fit system
- All-day comfort
- Power transfer in spades
- Gravel-friendly treads & walkability
- Lugs prevented proper float until worn down (could use cleat shims instead)
- Whole sizes only (size up)
The Bottom Line: Shimano RX8 Gravel Shoes
Shimano’s latest gravel shoes offer fantastic performance in a sensibly-priced package. With a single BOA IP1 fit system and a comfortable burrito-style wrap, you’ll enjoy all-day comfort for that next epic ride or gravel race. You can walk around in them comfortably and the smart silver camo color is fantastic.
Buy Now: Available at CompetitiveCyclist.com