When we glance at the starting line of a World Cup cyclocross or cross-country race, we often notice the flashing bright blue Shimano SH-XC902 S-Phyre on various rider's feet, eagerly awaiting the whistle. There is good reason too, if you've ever gotten a pair of these shoes in your hands, or better yet, on your feet, you'll experience that world-class fit, low weight, and efficiency that the pros count on to earn a paycheck.
The Shimano XC902 S-Phyre has received a few minor updates since Shimano first launched its S-Phyre lineup—notably a more perforated upper that improves the fit and breathability, and then beefier armor at the toe box.
On the rear of the shoe, Shimano uses an external cup that covers the carbon sole and the back of the heel. This design supports the heel, preventing twisting and rolling, stabilizing it for more efficiency. Inside the shoe at the heel a cat tongue-like gripping fabric further bolsters the foothold, providing a solid foundation for dishing out the big watts at the race start and on the pedaling upstroke while trying to maintain traction on a slippery surface.
Shimano tapped the folks at Michelin to create a grippy lug compound for off-bike traction, and we find it works well for quick dismounts and running sprints. The ability to run toe spikes comes in handy too when we're scrambling up steep, loose, or muddy terrain.