Shimano's new S-Phyre Insulated Shoe Covers are warm and waterproof, and they're stretchy enough to get on and off fairly easily even without a zip or Velcro closure.
Some neoprene is waterproof and some ain't. The material that Shimano uses here certainly is, helping to keep your feet comfortable even when rain is hoofing down.
Of course, water can soak into your tights and gradually seep downwards into your socks and shoes, the same as it can with any other overshoes, and a little spray can come upwards through the cleat opening, but none gets through the neoprene itself. What about the seams? They're sealed and no water leaks in there.
I've used these overshoes in all sorts of conditions over the past few weeks. I've found that my feet have stayed dry when the roads are wet but no rain is actually falling, and showers and even quite heavy rain have been kept out too. It's only when you're out in full-on rain for a while and the rest of your clothing gets wet that your feet start to get damp. Even then, the rate at which the water gets in is low so your feet rarely get cold.
The neoprene – Shimano calls it Metallic Thermal Tech-Ti neoprene – is 3mm thick and you get a tough, largely enclosed sole with just holes for the heel and cleat. This provides plenty of warmth.
Shimano says, 'The Metallic Thermal Tech's large surface area works to reflect infrared radiation released by the body. That radiation in turn warms up the layer of air between the fabric and the skin, helping to keep the temperature inside the clothing warm and comfortable.'
These overshoes have certainly done a good job of keeping my feet comfortably warm in temperatures right down to freezing point, and I tend to get cold quite easily.
The S-Phyre overshoes have no means of closure, you just pull them on and off a bit like a pair of socks. Okay, it's a bit more tricky than that because you have to negotiate the cleat and any buckles and dials on your shoe, but there's enough stretch here that it's not difficult and the neoprene is pretty tough so you won't put a fingernail through it in the process (I tried!). If it has been dry out and they don't need airing, I've tended to leave the overshoes half on my shoes between rides to make things easier next time around, just pushing them down far enough to get my feet in and out.
The neoprene's flexible and stretchy nature means there's no extra resistance to pedalling and I like the lack of fuss in this design. There's no chance of any Velcro catching on your clothing or of a zip gradually causing wear to your shoe upper. Shimano says this simplicity also makes for an aerodynamic fit, which makes sense although we're unable to test for that. It's really easy to adjust closure dials through the neoprene fabric too, and even some ratchet buckles, depending on the design.
One other advantage of not having a closure system is that there are no nooks and crannies where dirt can accumulate so the S-Phyre overshoes are easy to wipe keep clean with a cloth or sponge when they start to look dirty.
Shimano says that these overshoes are designed to work especially well with its RC9 (road) and XC9 (mountain bike) cycling shoes. I've used them with RC9s successfully, but they've been equally good with shoes from other brands.
If you're anything like me you'll usually bin a pair of overshoes when the sole fabric can't take any more and eventually gives up, most often in the toe section. I imagine that's going to be the case here but the whole of the sole is pretty tough and things are going well so far.
Exceptionally good overshoes that are warm and waterproof and don't restrict your pedalling
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano S-Phyre Insulated Shoe Covers
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for
Shimano says, "S-Phyre Insulated Shoe Covers take advantage of our Shimano Fusion Concept System Engineering and Anatomic 3D design knowledge to construct a cold-weather cover that interfaces perfectly with S-Phyre footwear. Flexible, one-piece, pull-on design delivers optimised waterproof protection and comfort in cold and wet training conditions. An added bonus of creating shoes and shoe covers as a system is that the Boa dials are readily accessible and adjustable without removing the covers, making mid-ride fine-tuning easy."
I've used these overshoes with Shimano's own shoes, but they work well with shoes from other brands too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Shimano lists these features:
* Anatomic construction
Anatomic 3D patterned low cut openings for stress-free pedalling comfort.
* Wet weather ready
Fully waterproof seam-sealed construction.
* Easy cleanup
Hydrophilic fabric for easy mud and debris clean up.
* Heat Retention
Metallic Thermal Tech-Ti Neoprene retains heat and provides insulation from the cold and elements.
* Designed for comfort
Highly-stretchable neoprene and zipper-free construction for comfortable aerodynamic fit.
* On-the-bike adjustability
Boa closure adjustment is accessible without removing shoe cover.
* System engineered
A shoe cover designed from the ground up to work with the shoe. System engineered for optimal interface with RC9 and XC9 cycling footwear.
They're really well made with waterproof seams.
The performance is exceptionally good.
With no Velcro or zip closure, there's not a great deal to go wrong here. Inevitably, the sole will eventually wear through – it always does – but it's made from quite a tough material so I don't anticipate that happening any time soon.
The stretchy neoprene will accommodate a range of different shoe sizes and shapes. I found the fit around the ankle to be bang on – tight enough to seal your foot away inside without feeling uncomfortable.
They're light – not that I'd get too excited either way about the weight of overshoes.
The neoprene is supple and doesn't affect your pedalling comfort at all.
These aren't cheap but they're not as expensive as the Q36.5 Termico Overshoes http://road.cc/content/review/213612-q365-termico-overshoes that we reviewed here on road.cc and they're the same price as the Sportful Fiandre WS Booties. http://road.cc/content/review/234147-sportful-fiandre-ws-bootie
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They're really easy to wipe clean when they get unacceptably dirty. You might want to give them the occasional dunk in a sink of soapy water.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I've really got on well with these. They're simple but they do a great job. Why overcomplicate things?
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
They really are waterproof and they offer a good level of warmth. They're comfortable too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These put in a performance that's definitely worth a 9. I guess the £60 price tag means they have to come down to an 8 overall, but these really are exceptionally good.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.