I’ve had a lot of shoes. And I mean a lot. I’m practically the Imelda Marcos of cycling shoes. Though, in my defence, I don’t generally own them all at the same time. I’m great at up cycling as well. Buy something at a good price, look after it, sell it for a good price. And so on. It means I don’t really pay out much and get to wear some really good shoes.
So I feel well qualified to talk about shoes. I’ve had some great ones. The Rapha GT shoes. So lovely. Wonderful construction and based on one of the great shoes (the Giro Factor). But they needed to be cared for. A scratch on the front and in comes my OCD. Not a shoe for wet days. But neither is best bike. The Sidi Wire were great. Beautifully constructed, easy to adjust, light. And stiff. So very stiff. But Sidi fit is a personal thing. I could get into them. They didn’t kill me. But they never felt as comfortable as the Rapha ones. Then there is the Factor itself. A wonderful fit. Not sexy though. Not really. Though the new AAC versions make the Rapha look overpriced (and they are essentially the same thing). Then there were the Empires. Wow. Wonderful, lovely things. Laces. Laces are actually great. Easy to get a good fit. But not easy to adjust on the fly.
So, with all these shoes, why am I on a pair of R171’s? Why couldn’t I just be happy? Well, the explanation is a simple one. I wanted something cheap to wear between now and Summer. Cheap was key. I didn’t really care what it looked like. So I came across these R171’s on Wiggle at £75. I needed some other kit so, with a voucher code, they were effectively £60. Yes. £60 for a pair of full carbon soled, micro fibre upper, race shoes. Worth a punt. I mean, they looked glossy enough to be cleanable so fitted the bill of winter wear.
But, those looks. Let’s be clear. Batman wouldn’t wear them. No TWO FACE would wear them and Batman wouldn’t be seen dead in his nemesis’s cycle wear (though they do come in all black). The looks of the R171 are divisive.
Just look at them. Full white one side. Full black the other. Two faced. But do they really have a split personality?
Actually, when you get them, they’re really quite nice. Very well made as one would expect from Shimano. But, in a weird way, aesthetically pleasing. And is it actually such a bad idea having one half of your shoe being black? That’s where the chain is. That’s where the oil can be found. They will never look dirty. Never mess with your OCD. I do confess that I’m not a fan of the Shimano lettering. But, there we are.
There are two ways of looking at this. Are they a good cheap shoe for knocking around in? Or just a good shoe full stop. Indeed, the RRP is only around £129 anyway which is a reasonable price for a full carbon shoe that weighs next to nothing. (480g for a pair of 40’s if you’re interested, pretty much on par with a pair of Giro Factor with their Easton supplied carbon sole).
Construction is slightly different to the norm. The white section wraps over the foot inside the shoe in a sock like way. The black section fits over the top of it. The main fastening buckle is attached to the foot flap rather than the side of the shoe. The fastening strap is then attached to the side of the shoe and you thread it into the buckle rather than the other way around. A different approach. I don’t know why they did it. It works as well as the alternative, but not better. The velcro straps work perfectly well for the other anchor points. It’s interesting that Shimano continue to eschew any form of lace up or boa dial approach. I confess that the Empires were very comfortable. But hard to adjust on the fly. I do prefer some adjustment when you’re riding. But that’s a personal thing.
The fit is excellent. But, come on, these are shoes. They fitted me. I’m a 45. A 44 in every day shoes. I need a 45 in Shimano shoes, a 45 in Giro, a 45 in Sidi. I’m a freak in that respect.
Do I feel them when they are on? No. Not once did I feel any hot spot. Not once did I question whether I’d got the right size. The felt perfect. That’s not easy to achieve in a shoe. There’s often some trade off. So when you get something that works, stick with it.
I approached these shoes thinking they would do till Spring. Having worn them I actually think I’ve found the ones. For a shade over £60. Could they be bettered? Probably. I mean, the R321 must exist for some reason. I do quite fancy trying my hand at baking those bad boys. But I’m happy with my choice. Perhaps Batman would wear them. It’s all about function with him. But I do think he’d get the all black ones…………