Shimano RC3 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Affordable, snug, lightweight
Cons: Fit's not universal, can be warm, lower power transfer
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|Pros||Affordable, snug, lightweight||Stylish, breathable, great adjustability, great power transfer, fits like a glove||Lightweight, stiff, affordable, simple||Stiff, large toe box, uses two-way BOA dial||Solid comfort, durable, great for walking, stylish|
|Cons||Fit's not universal, can be warm, lower power transfer||Pricey, sole scuffs, may be narrow for some feet||Limited comfort, one fastener, mid-range power transfer||Less comfortable, limited adjustability, upper can create hotspots||Premium 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 hills||A sleek, stylish, refined road shoe ready to lay down the watts||Sturdy and simple, this is the right shoe for serious road riders on a budget||If you’re looking for an affordable carbon sole and don’t mind sacrificing comfort, these are for you||Nice 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|
|Power Transfer (25%)|
|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|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Ryan Baham
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