These winter shoes are useful whether you’re a racer out training in the cold, an enthusiast who doesn’t want to dirty their expensive Italian slippers or a hardcore commuter who adheres to the same adage as the US Postal Service: ‘Through rain, snow or sleet’.
The mid-level RW80 doesn’t have a carbon sole or heat mouldable options, but it’s warm and water resistant, and makes an ideal second set of shoes.
The upper is made of a combination of leather, Gore-Tex and thermal insulation. The Gore-Tex and perforated leather are meant to afford some level of breathability, without being drafty. The coated neoprene top cuff furthers the shoe’s goal of keeping cold and wet out and the warmth in.
The RW80’s glass reinforced polyamide sole is built onto a wide last. Three offset Velcro straps, sealed seams and reflective highlights finish the package.
It’s only available in whole sizes (40-48), and you should size up if you wear a half size – and maybe even if you don’t; that way there’s plenty of room for thicker winter socks, which definitely help when the mercury dips below freezing.
The RW80 has a comfortable range of about 55 to 25°F (13-4°C). That can be augmented by a thicker sock or with the addition of an overshoe. Even at 20°F (-6°C), without booties, our feet stayed comfortable for the better part of an hour.
The upper is well cut and without hot spots or chafing. The shoe is stiff enough to be comfortable but not dramatically so, like the flagship SH-R310. That’s understandable; we can’t imagine anyone using the RW80 for a sprint.
Once you’ve run a pair of cycling shoes through a road’s winter grime – a combination of silt, dirt, mag-chloride and/or road salt – they’re never the same, so the option of subbing in a winter shoe can be very appealing.
The RW80’s £139.99 (US$230) price seems reasonable, even considering it will be a second shoe for just about everyone. Mind you these babies won’t win you any fashion contest. Rather, when I look down at my rotating feet, they conjure up images of Frankenstein or Herman Munster as they clunk by.
In terms of durability, the RW80 seems to carry on Shimano’s tradition of quality in footwear, which is best measured in years rather than months.