With a super-stiff sole, an effective heel cup and an upper that’s firmly secure yet comfortable, Shimano’s R170 road shoe is perhaps the best we’ve ridden at this price point.
At first, there’s nothing extraordinary about it: two velcro straps plus a micro-adjust buckle are pretty standard fare. True to Shimano’s corporate aesthetic, there are no screaming color options, either - you can have black or white.
But some of the R170’s details set the shoe apart. The cleat bolts, for instance, have a slot of approximately 1cm for additional fore/aft adjustment beyond what your cleats themselves might offer.
The heel cup’s padding means the heel is secure, but it’s a comfortable fit hour after hour. And the rubber heel pad (although not replaceable) is a sensible piece for when you want to walk around.
Our sample size 45s weighed 295g per shoe. While not as light as, say, the 250g Specialized S-Works Road shoe, the R170 is half the price. It’s also Shimano’s top shoe that isn’t heat moldable.
The R170 is comfortable and efficient for riding and racing
While the majority of the R170 upper is super-easy to clean, the mesh is a bit less so, especially on the rearward parts that have padding underneath. The firm upper material doesn’t have any give, so it doesn’t stretch over the course of the ride the way some hyperlight shoes can. A teardrop hole in the sole under the toes, combined with gaps in the insole, provides a small amount of ventilation, especially at high speed.
Shimano tweaked the R170 last for a flatter sole, dropping about 5mm compared to past shoes. The company claims that many cycling lasts come from boot lasts, which are designed for toe roll-off in walking, and that its Dynalast design improves efficiency on the upstroke. Is this true? Who knows. All we can say is that the R170 proved to be a very comfortable road shoe, great for performance riding and racing.
The shoe is also available in wide versions.