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The Shimano RC5 shoes offer a fair amount of stiffness, a good closure system, and come in at a decent price. They also have some excellent premium features that have trickled down from the RC9 and RC7 models.
The RC5s sit bang in the middle of Shimano's road shoes, below the range-topping RC9 and RC7s, and above the RC3 and RC1s.
They're compatible with three-bolt cleats and are simple to set up, with the ability to move the cleats fore and aft slightly (the 'wider cleat adjustment' Shimano lists as a feature). I set them up easily with both Speedplay cleats and Look Keos.
The cleats secure into a carbon fibre-reinforced nylon midsole, which finishes around 1cm from the edge of the sole, running from below the toe box to the middle of the arch. So although this doesn't feature throughout the whole sole, it adds stiffness underneath the ball of the foot.
Steve tested a previous version of this shoe in 2020 and the centre of the sole looks pretty much identical, and the stiffness is still rated as an 8, as it was in 2020. Basically, unless you're a sprinter or trying to get alpine KOMs on the regular, these will be more than stiff enough for the majority of rides.
A heel and toe buffer add a bit of extra grip when you're walking, and keep the less durable parts of the sole off the ground. I found these worked well, although it would be handy if these were replaceable so you wouldn't need to chuck out the shoes once these wear down.
The closure system on these consists of a single Velcro strap over the bottom of the toes and two flaps tightened by a single Boa L6 dial, one of the premium features that has trickled down from the more expensive models in the range. The design has changed slightly from the previous version, which Steve had some minor issues with, with the dial itself now positioned on the flap. I found pressure was exerted uniformly around the top of foot, and had no noticeable hotspots during the review period, so this appears to work well.
Although the Boa dial is easy to use, tightens well, and releases with ease, it would be good to be able to loosen the dial incrementally. I find, especially at this time of year in full finger gloves, that I tend to overtighten my shoes, and it would be handy if I could just dial it back by a couple of clicks rather than fully releasing the tension and then retightening.
The rest of the upper is made from mesh/TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) and synthetic leather material and looks really good – something else that has trickled down from more premium shoes in recent years. The material is fairly robust and, importantly, because I reviewed the white version, easy to wipe clean.
One element of the shoes that particularly impresses is the breathability from the large perforated areas around the shoe and the single large vent under the toe box.
A nice touch, whether by accident or design, is that toe warmers completely cover all the perforations, so although these shoe are designed to let air flow over your foot in warmer conditions, I used them in close to freezing conditions several times with just toe warmers without any issues.
The shoes hit the scales at a very respectable 490g, which is well below that of some road shoes within this price bracket such as the Scott Road Team Boas (558g, size 42), Bontrager Circuits (576g, 43), and the Northwave Mistrals (616g, though lace-ups, and that's for a size 45).
Overall I am impressed by the RC5s. They don't have the stiffest soles but I've found them more than good enough for most rides, and the fact that you get some premium level features at a mid-market price adds appeal. As does the fact they also look great.
Well-specced and light road shoes with trickled-down premium features at a mid-level price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano RC5 (RC502) SPD-SL Shoes
Size tested: 43
Tell us what the product is for
Shimano distributor Freewheel says: "Lightweight, high-performance road shoes with unparalleled power transfer, benefitting from S-PHYRE trickle-down technology"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Upgraded upper pattern and material improves fit and breathability, while reducing weight
Surround wrapping upper structure reduces overlap, providing a glove-like fit and eliminating hot-spots
Super low stack height helps stabilize foot, maximizes power transfer and efficiency
Integrated sole and upper construction sets a new level of fit, stability, rigidity and lightweight performance
Mesh/TPU/Synthetic leather composite upper provides comfortable fit and better breathability
Light carbon fibre reinforced nylon sole for power transfer
BOA® L6 skeleton dials ensure precise fit and comfort
Weight: 240g (size 42)
Stiffness rating: 8
They perform well. Not the stiffest-soled shoe around but more than adequate for the vast majority of rides, I'd say.
It would be good to have replaceable buffers on the sole, but everything is holding together and still looking neat and tidy after a month's use.
Very impressive; none of the other road shoes in this price bracket we've looked at recently even come close.
Very comfortable all-day shoes I was happy to wear, whether it was warm and sunny, or under shoe covers in the cold.
Good value compared with others around the same price, with some premium features and looks filtered down from the top levels.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They wipe clean very easily – good given that I tested the white version.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. They don't have the same performance as top-level shoes, but in terms of daily use and comfort, they do everything you need.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The breathability – very impressive.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It would be good to have some kind of ratchet micro-release in the Boa dial.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Scott Road Team Boa Shoes that Emma tested last year come in at the same price, while the Bontrager Circuits that Alex tested have gone up to £144.99.
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
They're very good, offering a fair amount of filtered-down premium-level features, and a premium look too.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.