This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
With many in the Tour de France peloton wearing shoes with dial closures this summer, do ratchet straps mark Shimano's R171 shoes as things of antiquity?
- Pros: Very stiff, very comfortable, good heel protection, great cleat alignment range
- Cons: Ratchet isn't as accurate as a dial; not the airiest on the market
The R171 shoes are extremely similar in looks to the Japanese brand's top-end R321 offerings, and sit under these in Shimano's price scale – Ultegra to the R321's Dura-Ace. Despite being half the price of the pro-level shoes, the R171 gets just about all the same features except for custom moulding.
The Surround perforated upper is made from ultra-light Teijin Avail 100 synthetic material, which is designed to improve fit and increase support under power. The white section wraps from the outside of the foot almost to the inside arch, incorporating a padded tongue. The black section then covers this and is secured via two Velcro straps and one ratchet, which has two mounting points via a 2.5mm hex bolt for a more custom fit. It's a pretty smooth setup that looks a bit like you're wearing half an aero shoe cover.
The full carbon sole incorporates Shimano's Dynalast technology and is designed to be very stiff but with a bit of toe spring, which the company says offers smoother, more efficient pedalling with less energy loss. The shoes retain the longer fore-aft cleat adjustment slots of the R170s, which give around 1cm of extra movement beyond what your cleats offer.
There are also heel and toe bumpers to avoid damage to the carbon when walking. The heel protector is a chunky number that seems to have done its bit in protecting the sole, with only a few small scuffs and scratches in about 300 miles of riding despite this tester's gravel driveway.
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