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Shimano RC3 Review

An entry-level road shoe with a few finer features to get you over the hills
Shimano RC3
Photo: Shimano
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Price:  $120 List | $93.69 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Affordable, snug, lightweight
Cons:  Fit's not universal, can be warm, lower power transfer
Manufacturer:   Shimano
By Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 22, 2021
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54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 5
  • Weight - 15% 9
  • Power Transfer - 25% 5
  • Adjustability - 20% 4
  • Durability - 15% 5

Our Verdict

A solid entry-level shoe to get you up to speed out on the road or in the spin room, the Shimano RC3 is meant for the rider on a budget or the guy just getting into the sport. You'll get some of the finer features seen in Shimano's premium offerings, like the relaxed Dynalast design and fancy BOA dials for fastening, but you're still in the affordable realm of bargainers and beginner shoes. We spent a lot of time on the RC3s and set them against a handful of the best shoes on the market. Read on to see how they stack up and where they earn their keep.

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Price $93.69 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Affordable, snug, lightweightStylish, breathable, great adjustability, great power transfer, fits like a gloveLightweight, stiff, affordable, simpleStiff, large toe box, uses two-way BOA dialSolid comfort, durable, great for walking, stylish
Cons Fit's not universal, can be warm, lower power transferPricey, sole scuffs, may be narrow for some feetLimited comfort, one fastener, mid-range power transferLess comfortable, limited adjustability, upper can create hotspotsPremium price, can be too snug, toes hard to adjust, limited breathability
Bottom Line An entry-level road shoe with a few finer features to get you over the hillsA sleek, stylish, refined road shoe ready to lay down the wattsSturdy and simple, this is the right shoe for serious road riders on a budgetIf you’re looking for an affordable carbon sole and don’t mind sacrificing comfort, these are for youNice bike shoes with a lot of versatility for commuting, spinning, and even a little offroading if you don’t mind getting these pretty things dirty
Rating Categories Shimano RC3 Fizik R1 Infinito Fizik Tempo Overcur... Specialized Torch 2.0 Giro Republic R Knit
Comfort (25%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
8.0
Weight (15%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
Power Transfer (25%)
5.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
Adjustability (20%)
4.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Durability (15%)
5.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Specs Shimano RC3 Fizik R1 Infinito Fizik Tempo Overcur... Specialized Torch 2.0 Giro Republic R Knit
Measured Weight (Pair) 19.4 oz 20.0 oz 20.8 oz 21.4 oz 26.7 oz
Size Tested 45 44 45 45 45
Outsole Fiberglass reinforced Nylon Carbon Carbon reinforced nylon Carbon, rubber Co-molded nylon and rubber
Upper Material Synthetic leather Laser-perforated 1.2mm microtex PU laminate, mesh Mesh, TPU Xnetic Knit
Closure Boa L6 dial BOA BOA and hook and loop strap Boa IP1 Fit System Lace
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular, Wide Regular

Our Analysis and Test Results

We spent a lot of time outside and in on the trainer learning these shoes. We also researched the heck out of them and checked our notes against others to make sure we didn't miss anything. Those results are below.

Performance Comparison


The RC3s are a decent choice if you're on a tight budget and need to...
The RC3s are a decent choice if you're on a tight budget and need to get into a road shoe.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Comfort


The RC3 ends up doing a lot with a little under this measure. For an entry-level shoe, you really get a good product, so long as your foot fits the last shape and toe box and you like a tight fit. Shimano's Dynalast is a little more relaxed, so the load on your feet, calves, and quads is reduced, meaning you won't get as much ache and fatigue as the ride wears on.

The integrated seamless upper, meanwhile, is a padded synthetic leather that wraps over the foot and fastens from the center. The effect is a nice glove-like fit, but the tongue and upper can rub against the upper foot and ankle a little.

It turns out that this is not the kindest structure to your upper...
It turns out that this is not the kindest structure to your upper foot and ankle when you're locked in and cranking. It can rub pretty hard.
Photo: Ryan Baham

The fit can vary by foot. The toe box skews small, and there's not much that can be done about that if you need room to splay. The way the upper closes can be a little uncomfortable or leave you feeling like your foot might slip out at the ankle. That feeling somewhat goes away as the miles wear on and you become accustomed to the shoe's fit, but it's still not competitive with the fit and feel of premium models.

Weight


This is an area of surprise for these shoes. At 19.4 ounces in a pair of Men's size 45 (Euro sizing), they rank on the lighter side of the spectrum. For an entry shoe, that's pretty rare. It's even rarer for a road shoe with the RC3's level of padding. The weight savings likely comes from the fiberglass nylon sole, which isn't the stiffest in the world.

These are among the lightest shoes in our lineup, surprisingly.
These are among the lightest shoes in our lineup, surprisingly.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Power Transfer


We wish there were a little more to the sole here, but acknowledge that it's an entry shoe and works fine for riders on a budget, spin classes, and beginners just getting into the sport. The fiberglass nylon composite sole is light and durable but comes with a good deal of unwanted flex. You notice it mostly when trying to grind out watts on climbs and sprints. It's not ideal, but it doesn't seriously limit anything.

They use a fiberglass nylon composite sole. It's not especially...
They use a fiberglass nylon composite sole. It's not especially stiff, but it's just fine for new riders and those not especially interested in competitive riding.
Photo: Ryan Baham

It also uses the Shimano Dynalast, which is a relaxed design meant to improve range of motion and limit stress on the foot and upper and lower leg. This can be a tough sort of feature to measure, but the RC3 does generally feel more comfortable. Where we can positively weigh in is on their lower stack height, which definitely improves stability and efficiency over some of the other entry-level shoes with thicker soles.

Adjustability


This is a spot we feel needs a bit of a rethink. The design uses a single, one-way BOA L6 dial mounted in the middle of the upper flap, off to the side. It's not a bad idea, but because the upper is thicker and uses a healthy layer of padding, it's hard to get a good, uniform close with its configuration. That the toebox is a little too snug doesn't help here. It can be nice sometimes, but it's the only option, and any tightening of the fastener exacerbates the issue.

Trying to fasten a stiff upper with a single dial tightening from...
Trying to fasten a stiff upper with a single dial tightening from the center doesn't seem to work especially well in this model.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Durability


For most of their upper, they use a perforated synthetic leather composite, which is to say, a tough, abrasion-resistant material. For some reason, the back of the heel uses a different, skin-thin material in an area that tends to see a lot of nicking, kicking, and scraping. We still generally expect the upper to put up with a lot of interaction with the outside world. It also helps that the upper and midsole are seamless, as seams can sometimes be areas of weakness.

The sole may not be carbon fiber, but it has its strengths. It's a lightweight glass fiber nylon. That doesn't make for an immovable pillar of adamantium, but the nylon actually improves the tensile strength while the glass fiber adds rigidity (power transfer). The result is a good balance of performance to longevity. We expect the shoe to hold up for at least 3-5 seasons of regular use before there are any problems with mechanisms, upper, sole, or seams.

Value


This is definitely an entry-level shoe, and it's priced to that. Folks who like snug fits will have a better time. If you need more room to roam, you might look around.

Conclusion


You won't find the Shimano RC3 adorning the feet of Julian Alaphilippe as he crests Tourmalet or Alpe d'Huez in the Tour de France, but that doesn't mean they're not fine for the average rider just trying to get their feet into some affordable road bike shoes. They do, of course, share some designs with their premium cousin, the Shimano S-Phyre, which you will find on a lot of feet in the elite pelotons stomping through the Pyrenees and Alps on the pro circuits of Europe. And until you're chasing those marginal gains, these shoes will serve you just fine.

The RC3s aren't going to be the best shoes out there, but they're...
The RC3s aren't going to be the best shoes out there, but they're really pretty decent for what they are -- basic, entry-level shoes to get you on the bike and cranking.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Ryan Baham

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