On the back of the release of its GRX gravel groupset, Shimano has added a second gravel specific shoe to its line up, the RX8. So it’s probably safe to say this new category of footwear is here to stay.
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Joining the ranks of Specialized and Bont in offering a high performance gravel shoe, the RX8 is essentially the XC9 minus some of the aggressive protection on the carbon sole and around the toe and heel — though it does retain a bit of rubber under the midfoot for a traction when you accidentally unclip or miss your pedal.
Shimano’s current gravel multi-surface kicks, the XC5s, have a fibre-reinforced sole and laces, while the new XC8 gets a full carbon fibre plate, a BOA IP1 dial and a Velcro strap across the toe box. The upper appears to be heavily perforated and the inside of the shoe gets Silvadur technology to keep the shoes smelling fresh after creek crossings, mud bogs and dustbowls alike.
Claimed to weigh 265g in a size 42, Shimano says the RX8’s shave 60–65g off the XC9s and XC7 cross-country race shoes. This has been achieved, it claims, by using a smaller heel cup, replacing one BOA with Velcro and getting rid of the toe spike mounts.
The new RX8 will be available in black and a special-edition silver colourway. Men’s euro sizing will range from 40–50 and women’s from 36–43. Shimano Australia expects the gravel kicks to retail for around $359 — international pricing is TBC.