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The RC7 shoe got a makeover and a new price tag, making it both a better shoe and one that creeps ever so slightly out of the mid-range category.
At $225, Shimano’s RC7 is balanced between being a high-end competition and mid-range do-it-all shoe. That’s a tough line to straddle, and the RC7s do it well. Shimano has turned the RC7 into a premium shoe at a price well below the high-end race models, and while it flirts with excellence, it doesn’t quite attain it.
This new model is $25 more than the previous RC7 shoes. What do you get for that extra money? The main change is an added Boa dial, which helps you tailor the forefoot fit.
The second Boa dial is a marked improvement over last year’s RC7 shoes. This allows you to adjust forefoot fit separately from the instep. The end result is a much more comfortable feel, consistently throughout the foot. We would have preferred Boa’s IP1 dial (featured on the previous version of the RC7, in conjunction with a Velcro forefoot strap) instead of the L6. The IP1 is micro-adjustable in both directions, while the L6 is micro-adjustable only in one direction. It is easy to tighten the shoe on the fly. However, it is not possible to loosen in small increments while riding. That said, the L6 works much better than a Velcro strap, and the addition of the Powerzone lace guide certainly tailors the fit far better than the previous RC7’s Velcro. Overall, the revised design is a big win.
As always, fit is a tricky question to address, since everyone’s foot is different. What remains consistent with Shimano shoes, however, is the spacious forefoot. This allows your foot to swell slightly as you ride, without pinching that can lead to numbness or discomfort. Wide is, of course, always relative. I have a narrow foot, so these shoes feel roomy. If you have a particularly wide foot, you might opt for Shimano’s Wide Sizing.
The carbon composite sole offers plenty of power transfer, but enough flex to maintain comfort. We’ve ridden some carbon soles that are so stiff they vibrate from road chatter; the RC7 shoes find the balance between stiffness for racing and training, and comfort for riding all day on even rough surfaces. These are good do-it-all carbon soles.
The upper features perforations throughout to allow venting and airflow. While the venting doesn’t seem standout here, it wasn’t problematic either. You won’t feel the breeze whip across your feet, but you’ll also probably avoid serious swamp foot.
One of the complaints we’ve mentioned with other Shimano shoes carries over to the new RC7: The material to which the upper Boa attaches wraps around the ankle at a fairly severe angle. If you don’t have a high ankle, this probably won’t matter to you, but it ended up digging into the skin between the top of the foot and the bottom of the shin. It didn’t seem to soften over time either.
This concern seems less noticeable on the updated RC7 shoes than it was on the previous version of the high-end S-Phyre shoes. Also, some testers in the VeloNews office don’t experience this discomfort. Bottom line: Try them on before you buy.
With all the fuss made over the S-Phyre’s heel retention cup — which was redesigned this year and looks and feels pretty incredible — it is worth noting that the heel retention on the RC7 is just okay. There’s no special fabric to keep the heel in place, nor is there any reinforcement on the shoe’s upper to plant your foot.
During out-of-the-saddle climbs, we could feel our heels creeping up slightly. It’s not a dramatic movement, but it’s movement nonetheless.
If you’re a Shimano devotee, you’ll love what you get with the RC7 for the price. While the fit of these shoes wasn’t right for me, Shimano’s shoes are popular in the VeloNews office precisely because of that fit, once again placing a spotlight on the importance of trying shoes on before you buy.
Fit preferences aside, the RC7 shoes look great and perform well for a do-everything shoe, despite a few drawbacks like the heel cup. And man, that swirly white finish looks super cool.