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Shimano S-Phyre XC 9

Review: Shimano S-Phyre XC 9

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We Liked

To start this review, I really like the color of the Shimano XC9, Shimano sent us the sapphire blue, and I think they are eye catching & really look great! I almost hate getting them dirty! Ok I am joking about getting them dirty, but I think the S-Phyre’s look so cool that I am putting out and extra 10 watts since my review started. I know this merely coincidence, but I really have been putting an average of 10 to 15 watts per second, per workout since my review of period started, could bright blue, make me want to ride harder? Well the placebo effect can be strong… Considering blue is American’s favorite color, (numerous studies shows that 30% of Americans state their favorite color is blue) riders will love this color, but if sapphire blue is not your thing, Shimano S-Phyre’s also come in a bright yellow and classic black.

Dang these mountain bike shoes are feather light! The Shimano XC9 with its synthetic leather upper, dual BOA dials, partial carbon sole, stiff light external heel cup and proprietary Michelin outsole this is easily the lightest mountain bike shoe that I have ever worn. Our size 44 Shimano XC9 came in at 715 grams, over the past couple of years I have worn Louis Garneau T-Flex 300 for a couple of years, those size 44 shoes weighed in at 760 grams. The XC9 are marginally lighter than similar size Lake MX331 and Sidi Drako, but a hair heavier than Giro Empire VR90 with shoe lace (if you like so laces on cycling shoes.)


  • Great looking off-road shoes, love the sapphire blue
  • Super light-weight shoes the XC9 weighs in at 330g for a size 42 shoes
  • Super comfortable! The XC9 are like slippers, they are one most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.
  • Super stiff carbon sole and comfort translated into extra 10 to 15 watts compared to road shoes I had been using.

Dang these shoes are comfortable… The first time I tried on these slipper like XC9 shoes, I was cleaning up my drivetrain and overhauling my rear hub and freewheel. I was probably walking around for about 90 minutes when it dawned on me I was still wearing cycling shoes. Mind you typically I can’t stand wearing cycling shoes a second longer than I have to. Luckily that slipper like feel of the S-Phyre XC9 wasn’t limited to walking around the garage, I found the XC9’s to be exceptionally comfortable pedaling along down the road and the lake side trails. In fact I found the S-Phyre were so comfortable that I have strongly considering ditching my Specialized S-Works road shoes and Bont semi-custom road shoes. For over a year I have problems with excess friction on my right 5th metatarsal (pinky toe), to the point where I have begun to develop a painful bunion. On my 2nd ride with the XC9’s I went out for a 2 hour ride, and then a 2.5 hour ride the next day, and after all that and I did not have any of my usual metatarsal irritation that typically starts at about the 1.5 hour mark. I think the reason they were more comfortable than my road shoes, is the Shimano S-Phyre XC9s have a slightly larger toe box than the road both of my road shoes. Additionally the soft-supple synthetic upper on the S-Phyre’s seemed to make gentle contact with the versus the harsh carbon last Bont shoes. The Boa micro dial is another reason for the additional comfort, when I wanted to go hard on a Strava segment, I would wrench down the Boa’s fairly tight and then when I was done with my 5 or 10 minute effort, I would loosen them a couple clicks, and quickly feel optimum blood flow return to my feet within a few seconds.

As I mentioned in one of the earlier paragraphs above, I was surprised that from almost the very first ride with S-Phyre XC9’s, I was pulling extra 10 to 15 watts per second over the course of my rides. That translates to about 5% to 7.5% increase in power versus recent workouts. I am no expert, but I would find it very difficult to believe a different pair of shoes could translate into those kind of increases. What we know is Shimano S-Phyre XC9 have a super stiff carbon sole combined with lower stack height, asymmetric eyestay control and does an awesome job converting the rider’s physical energy into smooth kinetic energy. One more feature that might generate another watt or two is Shimano external heel cup, that was designed to prevent the foot from twisting and rolling when apply a lot of force on the pedals. For me this was very apparent with my left shoe, over the years anyone who rides with me will notice, I have a tendency to kick my left heel out when I start throwing out about 300 watts. With XC9s I physically could feel that my left heel was not kicking outward compared with my other shoes.

We Didn't Like

So far I really like nearly everything about Shimano S-Phyre XC9 shoes, they are easily the best mountain bike shoes I have ever worn: they are handsome looking, are incredibly comfortable, they do not irritate my right fifth metatarsal and transfer power. There is one thing that I have had a problem with so far but it is probably isolated to me and maybe a handful of other riders. I am somewhat unique in that I have a pretty broad forefoot, but it is countered by a narrower than normal Achilles tendon. With a narrow Achilles tendon, I noticed heel slippage when I was dismounting and running in these shoes. Mind you I have only done a few dismounts and run a couple hundred feet, so it a little too early say this will always be the case for me and a few other riders. Shimano does have a bit of a solution for this as they have created S-Phyre Tall Socks to help prevent heel slippage. The tall sock might be the answer to my problem, they have a woven in ankle guides to ensure efficient pedaling rotation, and the sock have a knitted anti-slip heel to prevent heal cup slippage. Unfortunately Shimano was out of S-Phyre Tall socks when they sent us the S-Phyre’s for review, so we will to re-evaluate heel slippage when they send us a pair of test.

The Final Say

Final Say: If you are in the market for a new pair of off roads shoes, you have to consider Shimano S-Phyre XC9! The S-Phyre XC9 are the complete cyclocross shoes: they look magnificent, are as comfortable as slipper (more adjustable then one too.), are as lightweight as cross shoes are manufactured and most importantly the stiff carbon efficiently transfer the riders power forward moving energy! Ultimately I liked Shimano S-Phyre XC9 shoes enough that I bought the road version!

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