We get a lot of questions from customers asking what the difference between your average road shoe and a high end road shoe. It is a great question, that I myself did not fully know the answer to until recently, when I made the switch to the Shimano R170 SPD-SL shoes. The following has been my expereience, and why I am not hooked on the R170.
With Race season coming up I decided I needed every advantage I could get to be as competitive as possible this year. So, after some deliberation, I decided to retire my old Shimano R078 shoes and take a big leap to the R170. I had heard that the increased stiffness and improved materials would make a huge difference in my riding, so I gave it a try in training for an upcoming race.
Upon slipping into these shoes for the first time, the first thing that I noticed was the outside texture of the shoe. The minimal fabric design design was tough and sexy, with great ventilation. Also, the textured material on the outside of the shoe will most certainly be more resistant to signs of wear than my previous shoes.
After a few rides, this shoes makes lesser models feel like slippers. The R170 hugs your foot as tight as you need it to, with the ratchet system, without ever feeling uncomfortable. It greatly differs from shoes I have worn in the past because the body is using less material and I feel like the shoe becomes a seamless part of my foot while riding. The lightness of the shoes is extremely apparent on long climbs and those training days when you just seem to have heavier legs than usual.
Over the Winter, I first started using these shoes on a stationary bike at spin class. I immediately noticed more accessibility to muscle groups that were otherwise hindered with my previous shoes from the need to focus too much on balancing on a small platform. The stiffness of these shoes, Shimano rating of 10 for stiffness, makes the whole sole of the shoe feel like a platform, instead of just focusing on the ball of my foot. This bigger platform feel has provided better balance, more power, and has decreased my fatigue while riding, making me faster and happier than ever before.
So, if you are looking to make the switch and try a newer stiffer shoe to up your game this season, give it a try. I guarantee you will see a huge difference and never looks back.
Until next time, keep training hard and enjoy the ride!
You can check out the incredible Shimano R170 shoes for yourself HERE