The most important contact point with your bike is arguably between your feet and pedals. While your handlebars and saddle are extremely important to achieving a comfortable position, the place your legs meet your bike are what allows to propel yourself forward as efficiently as possible. Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9100 pedals, SPD-SL road cleats and S-Phyre RC9 shoes are designed to work together to allow you to pedal your bike with unmatched efficiency. After months riding in the S-Phyre shoes paired with the Dura-Ace pedals they provide a confidence inspiring combination.
The new Dura-Ace pedals have undergone subtle changes while the S-Phyre are a striking, light and stiff high-end shoe which use Boa dials to achieve your preferred fit. While neither the shoes nor the pedals have introduced dramatic innovations, both get the job done with reliability. Shimano are the only company that offers the total package for the contact point between your legs and bike.
The SPD-SL carbon body Dura-Ace pedals weigh in at 228g being modestly lighter than the previous generation which were 248 g. The stainless steel surface plate is now modeled in place offering protection only in specific contact areas and the carbon body has been milled down for additional weight savings.
Another change is the subtle branding with the Dura-Ace logo being removed from the side of the pedal. The matte black finish is a safe match with any bike even if the gruppo isn’t Shimano. The S-Phyre shoes got the same subtle branding treatment with Shimano only appearing on the top of the upper Boa strap and S-Phyre appearing on the side close to the heal.
Clipping into the pedals requires hooking the toe area of the cleat into the front of the pedal body and pressing down. An audible click happens once you are securely in place. Twist the heel outwards and you unclip. The pedals come with a set of blue cleats with two degrees of float rather than the more common yellow cleats which have six degrees of float. It took me some time to adjust to having less float but once I had, I came to appreciate the firmer connection to the pedals especially with the S-Phyre shoes.
Shimano SPD-SL have been my personal preference for pedals since my early days of road cycling. Shimano’s durable pedals have always proved reliable, quick to get accustomed to clipping in and out of, they provide a stable platform, and hold the foot in place securely and comfortably. The cleats are long lasting, not to expensive and not too difficult to walk in as well.
Apart from the weight difference between the alloy and Ultegra SPD-SL pedals, the Dura-Ace have a one roller bushing that provides extra support and durability. The Dura-Ace pedal is also slightly easier to get into as the pedal falls into place extremely reliably. The stack height is also extremely low. Paired with the extremely small stack height of the S-Phyre it’s a platform that feels extremely solid and provides an immediacy in every pedal stroke. For those seeking a wider q-factor, the pedals are available in a +4 mm version.
A wide range of pedal tensions can be set using a single bolt that can be adjusted using a 2.5 mm Allen key. The 65 mm pedal body provides one of the largest cleat-to-pedal body surface areas available making it feel very stable.
All the characteristics of the Dura-Ace pedals are matched by the refined performance of the S-Phyre shoes. The Boa dials provide a range of tensions making it extremely easy to find the right fit. The stiff sole makes the connection to the pedals really solid and the heel cuff ensures when pedalling full-force your foot his held firmly in place. On long climbs, while sprinting out of the saddle and doing seat accelerations the shoe felt in place on my foot.
The S-Phyre are a really sleek performance oriented shoe that manages to achieve a good balance between providing the rider with a firm hold of the foot when pedalling hard while still maintaining all-day comfort. The dials also make it easy to make incremental adjustments to the shoe throughout the day.
I found it extremely easy to achieve the right cleat position on the shoes as well. While I often find myself fiddling with cleats on a new pair of shoes for a couple of days, I quickly found and had my position dialed with the S-Phyre. The shoes are lightweight, though like the pedals they are not the lightest available, but the few extra grams would only put of the strictest weight weenies.
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As a performance shoe, breathability was also an important factor and even on hot days while climbing I never felt my feet were overheating. In fact, you can even feel a bit of a breeze passing through the shoe. The shoe comes with the S-Phyre socks which have a tall cuff and padding that is suppose to help even further improve your pedalling efficiency. Shimano really has the whole solution covered.
The white pair I was wearing was also pleasingly very easy to clean. While some white shoes attract dirt and then are extremely difficult to get clean again, the S-Phyre continued to look great even after getting sloppy in the rain.
Shimano are the only company which offer pedals, cleats, and shoes. Their offerings even extend to apparel with the S-Phyre shoes coming with a pair of socks. It is a performance package that checks all the boxes. The shoes are stiff and light while the pedals are stable and smooth.