SHI­MANO S-PHYRE XC9

Australian Mountain Bike - - Tested - WORDS: MIKE BLE­WITT PHOTOS: DAVE ACREE

Shi­mano are known for mak­ing long-last­ing and re­li­able moun­tain bike footwear, and their re­cent re­jig of their whole range of cy­cling shoes has brought up­dated tech­nol­ogy from the top of the range down to the bot­tom - from all-moun­tain shoes through to trail shoes and XC slip­pers like the S-Phyre XC9. More than just a ba­sic up­grade, Shi­mano have changed the whole shoe, on the up­per they moved from two vel­cro straps and a buckle to two BOA di­als in­stead. The full-car­bon mid­sole is thin­ner, which means you’re closer to the pedal axle, and the outer sole is Miche­lin rub­ber, com­ple­mented by ports for two toe studs on each shoe. The tread is all pretty low­pro­file, and the toes have a small bumper for ex­tra pro­tec­tion. The up­per is two piece, and wraps over your foot, with­out a nor­mal tongue. The BOA di­als cinch down on the two-piece up­per via six points and with the sim­ple re­lease func­tion they are quick to put on, quick to pull off.

TRIAL BY FIRE

I bought a set of the S-Phyre shoes to re­place my Shi­mano XC90 shoes. In a Euro­pean 44 (wide fit), with change­able arch support, they felt ex­actly as they should on my feet. I run the mid­dle arch support but the shoes come with op­tions for more or less support, a shoe bag, toe studs and match­ing socks to pro­mote the cool­ing ef­fect of the shoes. As they looked so flash the shoes stayed on the shelf un­til the re­cent Croc­o­dile Tro­phy, where I sub­jected them to eight days of in­tense use - from an XCO race at Smith­field, to four days of back-to-back 100km+ races with hike-a-bike and river cross­ings, all the way to a moun­tain bike time trial. In wet creek beds and over wet logs, the Miche­lin outer sole gripped ad­mirably – cer­tainly a lot bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous XC90 model. I didn’t get to use them in much mud, but the open tread should clear well in any­thing but heavy clay-based muck. Day in and day out the shoes were given lit­tle thought - which hap­pens when rac­ing. Easy to put on, easy to take off, they dried well after a clean (or dunk­ing) and I only had a slight sen­sa­tion of ‘hot foot’ on one day when rid­ing for over five hours in 30+ de­grees. With plenty of time off the bike on steep ter­rain, the heel cup played its role, es­pe­cially with the in­ner grip­ping so well. The front of the XC9 didn’t fare so well and both toe plugs rat­tled out. The car­bon is torn up and parts of the up­per are gouged in­side the arch and at the heel cup. 30+ hours of rac­ing and think­ing about for­ward progress on and off the bike, and not about pre­cise foot place­ment will do that. These are a race shoe and that’s what the test pe­riod in­volved. Com­ing home from the Croc­o­dile Tro­phy with a set of $449 shoes in use­able but very used con­di­tion leaves me with mixed emo­tions. The XC7 will give you a lot of the fea­tures of the XC9 for al­most half the price, and that’s prob­a­bly the choice if you’re do­ing more ad­ven­ture-based moun­tain bike events. But if you want the best, no-com­pro­mise footwear then I think you should try a set of the S-Phyre XC9 shoes on at your lo­cal Shi­mano footwear dealer. They were com­fort­able out of the box and at no point did I need to think about my shoes – they did their job flaw­lessly.

HITS

- Great fit and com­fort - Ex­cel­lent grip off the bike for

an XC shoe - Highly breath­able in

Aus­tralian con­di­tions

MISSES

- Lower tread height leaves some

of the up­per ex­posed - Ex­pen­sive – but sim­i­lar to

the com­pe­ti­tion.

RRP: FROM:

$449 shi­mano.com.au

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