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The Shimano RC7 Road Shoe (SH-R702) is an excellent all-rounder with a lot of features of Shimano's top-end shoes but at a much lower price. They cover the whole spectrum of road cycling easily, from rides to work, to races or weekend cafe rides, taking it all in their stride with their comfort and performance. Their predecessors earned a place in our best road cycling shoes buyer’s guide for being great value, and though these are £20 more, they're still well worth it.
These shoes really impressed on the comfort front. I wasn't looking forward to a couple of weeks of niggles trying to break in a new pair of shoes, but thankfully out of the box these were like slippers.
The uppers are made from one piece of high-density synthetic leather, with a wraparound structure to reduce overlap. As well as being very comfortable, it gives a seamless look that I like, with some mesh for flexibility and comfort near the two Boa dials.
These L6 dials allowed me to get the shoes as tight as I needed, but I did find the main 'strap', which is controlled by the top Boa, would be slightly loose after each ride, though I didn't notice this while riding.
The second Boa controls the mid and lower area of the shoe, and I found this really comfortable.
The Boas themselves work well but I did find it frustrating that this L6 model only enables you to make micro-adjustments one way, when tightening, so if you need to loosen the shoes off just a bit, you can't; you have to release all the tension and then tighten them back up.
Around the ankle there is plenty of padding and that area is quite flexible, so I didn't feel any discomfort at all.
Sole stiffness ratings vary among shoe makers, so they're limited in their usefulness, but here Shimano has given the carbon sole a stiffness rating of 10 (its top-end S-Phyre RC9 gets 12), and from the first time I stood up to pedal out of the saddle I noticed just how stiff they were. I was really impressed with how solid they felt; my usual shoes are around double the price of the RC7s (with a stiffness rating of 15) and I honestly couldn't tell the difference.
In the carbon sole there is a channel designed to allow airflow under the insole and to allow water to drain away. On warm days my feet never overheated, and you could really notice the air travelling through on colder days.
My only issue with a system that lets water drain out is that it also lets it back in. I found once my feet were wet that's how they stayed, but I guess if you had a downpour at the start of a ride it could help dry them out by the end.
Setting up the cleats is easy as there is a comprehensive grid and measurement system on the sole. It took me around 5 to 10 minutes to get fresh cleats on and lined up. (We have a guide on how to get your shoe cleats set up right if you need help.)
I gave these shoes a fairly hard time – cold, rainy weather; dirty roads; getting walked across gravel cafe paths, and contacting my mudguards multiple times while I attempted to be a seasoned commuter and trackstand at each set of traffic lights – and the wear is minimal. Some scuffs here and there but nothing to write home about. And the material around the heel is still perfect.
On the heel and the toe are hard rubberised plastic protectors that help prevent wear in those areas, but note that the heel pad is not replaceable, so take that into account.
You can get these shoes in three colours: black, white or red and blue. Shimano also offers a wide version as well as half sizes, so you can dial in your fit.
They're also pretty light; Shimano claims a weight of 255g for a size EU42, and the EU45 comes in at 277g.
The RC7 Road Shoes cost £189.99, which I think is a pretty good price for what you're getting. I own two pairs of S-Works 7s, which are between £369.99 and £244.99 depending on size and colour, which makes the RC7s pretty good value.
Overall, I think these are excellent whether you're new to cycling or you've been ticking off the miles for a while. They perform really well and are good value for money. I've already recommended them to a couple of friends, and can't stress how surprised I was by how much they felt like a far more expensive shoe.
Excellent all-rounders at a good price – very stiff, light and comfy enough to wear all day
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano RC7 (RC702) SPD-SL Shoes
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
Shimano describes the RC7 as its "Bestselling top-tier road shoe upgraded with S-PHYRE technology".
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Shimano's UK distributor Freewheel lists these features:
New synthetic upper material ensures glove-like fit, while reducing weight and increasing breathability
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
Newly developed midsole construction cuts stack height, significantly improves ventilation and water drainage
Full carbon outsole maximises power transfer and pedalling efficiency
Dual BOA® L6 dials ensure precise fit and comfort
Weight: 240g (size 42)
Stiffness rating: 10
Solid. No signs of wear across the whole shoe.
A really comfortable shoe from day one. Light and really stiff considering it's not the top of the range model.
All good so far. Despite being light, they have a feeling of quality.
I typically wear a EU45 (UK 10.5) and these came up a touch small but not enough to make me struggle to wear them on long rides.
Felt good from day one. No sore spots or numbness at all.
I didn't notice much difference in performance compared with my daily shoes, which are £360.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I had no issues keeping these clean: a damp cloth or a wet-wipe kept them looking fresh.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They're great! I was actually shocked at how well I got on with them considering they're nearly half the price of my usual shoes. I found their stiffness perfect, and I struggle to fault them.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
They were really easy to set my cleat position, and comfy from the first wear. They're also very stiff and light.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The Boa L6 dials don't allow you to loosen in increments, you have to remove all tension and then tighten them back up.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The RC7 Road Shoes cost £189.99, which I think is a pretty good price for what you're getting. I own two pairs of Specialized S-Works 7s, which are between £369.99 and £244.99 depending on size and colour.
The RC7s are a tenner more than dhb's Aeron Lab Carbon Road Shoe Dial, which Hollis reviewed last year, though he reckoned those only suit a narrow foot, and could be more vented.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, and I have done.
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're great shoes that do pretty much everything exceptionally well.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road Bike: Specialized Diverge to Work My best bike is: Specialized Allez Sprint for Racing/Training
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Track and Bike packing