Have your feet been good to you? Want to treat them right? Then take a look at Shimano’s new S-Phyre XC9 shoes, some supremely sophisticated footwear from the big S, aimed squarely at the cross-country race market.
We’ve been huge fans of Shimano’s XC90 shoes (read our full review here) but having got our hands on the all-new S-Phyre XC9 (in very FLUORO yellow, no less), we can tell you these are a big leap forward in terms of construction refinement and weight savings.
The S-Phyre is remarkably sleek, with the kind of seamless look that’s akin to a high-end road shoe, using a very supple, one-piece synthetic leather upper that really moulds to the shape of your feet.
Speaking of moulding, the S-Phyre shoes do not have the custom-fit system which was previously found on Shimano’s top level shoes. Apparently the custom-fit system added a fair amount of weight, and with the new one-piece upper and BOA laces, Shimano are able to achieve the same level of comfort and conformance to your foot as was possible with the custom fit system. Interesting stuff.
A degree of customisation is still possible with three different levels of arch support, adjusted via simple inserts that slip into the insole itself. This is a smart solution, much cheaper than having to buy new insoles if you have higher arches.
BOA laces are so hot right now the S-Phyre are BOA equipped. In our experience, the BOA laces offer more precise adjustment than a ratchet strap with less susceptibility to damage or getting gummed up with mud too. Anyone who has had to fight their way out of muddy shoes with the ratchets seized up will appreciate the ‘instant release’ spools, no doubt.
As a race shoe, the S-Phyre XC9 offers better power transfer than a fork in an electrical socket. Full carbon soles ensure every precious caffeine fuelled Watt is delivered to your pedals, and a low stack height keeps your foot closer to the pedal axle which makes for a more stable pedal stroke.
Like the ME7 Enduro shoes we’ve been riding lately, the S-Phyre shoes also get a Michelin rubber tread, which is grippy and also lighter than the previous tread configuration found on the XC90 shoes. We weighed our size 43 shoes at 335g each.
If you’re not a fan of the blistering fluoro, there’s black, or the classic Shimano blue available too, which we’re sure will be popular. As an extra sweetener, every pair of S-Phyre shoes comes with matching socks too – #sockgamestrong as our roadie friends would put it!
Slightly down the pricing totem pole you’ll find the XC7 shoes, which get many of the features of the XC9s, just with one BOA dial, not two, and a slightly lower stiffness carbon sole. The XC9s also have more extensive ventilation too, for keeping your feet cool when you’re on the rivet.
Pricing on the S-Phyre XC9s is $449, and they should be here in Australia by October, while the XC7s come in at $259 with a November availability.