SH-XC9 S-PHYRE Cycling Shoe
If you glance the start line of a World Cup cyclocross or cross-country race, you'll most likely notice the electric green or bright blue Shimano SH-XC9 Cycling Shoes on the rider's feet, eagerly waiting to clip in when the whistle blows and head to the front to string the field out. It's for good reason too, because if you've ever gotten a pair of these shoes in your hands, or better yet, on your feet, you'll experience that world-class fit, low weight, and efficiency that the pros count on to earn a paycheck. No doubt, these shoes are designed to help you pedal at your best to get you across the finish line faster, however it means nothing if your feet are in agony. Shimano shoes are perineal favorites here in the office and these XC9s receive some light updates since Shimano first launched its S-Phyre lineup notably a more perforated upper that improves the fit and breathability and beefier armor at the toe box.
Shimano constructs the XC9 with a one-piece upper using a Teijin synthetic material that handles water resistance, while the more numerous perforations allow the feet to breathe. Dialing in the fit comes courtesy of the dual Boa IP1 dials offering independent and micro-adjustable tension across the top of the foot. Shimano believes that the fit's so refined that it didn't bestow the XC9 with the Custom Fit heat and vacuum system we have come to expect on its high-end shoes over the past decade. We'd have to agree that indeed the Boa and the soft upper simple melds the shoe around our foot and we're not sure if a better or more comfortable fit is achievable.
On the rear of the shoe, Shimano uses an external cup that covers the carbon sole and the back of the heel. This design supports the heel preventing twisting and rolling, stabilizing it for more efficiency. Inside the shoe at the heel, a cat tongue like gripping fabric further bolsters the foothold, providing a solid foundation for dishing out the big watts at the race start and on the pedaling upstroke while trying to maintain traction on a slippery surface. Shimano reached out to the French rubber wizards at Michelin to create a compound for the lugs and the surrounding cleat mounting area. The rubber provides excellent grip on terra firma when off the bike and if you botch the clip in on the remount, the middle of the sole offers a bit of grippy traction so your foot doesn't slip off the pedal. The ability to run toe spikes come in handy when scrambling up steep loose or muddy terrain.
The XC9 might not be the lightest shoe on the mountain bike market but Shimano is never known to skimp on performance to meet a certain weight and let's be honest, at 330g per shoe in a size 42, these shoes are still plenty light. Focusing again on fit, power transfer, comfort, and durability, the pros that count on these shoes aren't getting slowed down by a few grams here or there. The stiff Dynalast carbon fiber sole harnesses pedaling power while putting less stress on the metatarsal zone. It's also super thin and it helps lower the overall stack height of the sole and hits an impressive 11 out of 12 on the brand's sole stiffness scale. Paired with XTR pedals, you'll get a setup that's damn close to being as efficient and light as a road setup with the versatility to use it on any surface.
- Shimano's premiere cyclocross and XC race shoe
- Stiff, efficient carbon-reinforced sole for power transfer
- Increased perforation on the upper improves breathability and fit
- Dynalast construction increases pedaling efficiency
- Dual-density Michelin rubber outsole blends grip and durability
- Dual BOA IP1 dial buckle provides a customizable fit
- Beefier toe armor improves durability and saves toes
- Finished with reinforced toe spike mounts