Shimano’s shoes have long been some of my favorites thanks to a wide toe box and comfortable fit while still delivering the performance needed from a mid- to top-level road or mountain bike shoe.
The new SH-R321 slots in above the rest as their “Pro Tour Racing” level shoe. It brings a second generation Dynalast and better custom fit materials to the table, plus a new “Surround” upper that wraps the foot to prevent hot spots or pressure points. It’s also insanely light. The claimed weight of 245g per shoe (size 40) doesn’t do it justice since others ring up lighter on the scale. But, holding these, they feel lighter, and they’re a full featured shoe with no skimps on comfort or performance to achieve that weight.
Strap in and step below for all the details plus a look at their shiny Metrea concept commuter group…
Sharing most of the design features of the R321 is the new R171 (left, and at bottom on the first pic). Both are available in white/black combos or all black, and both use the new Surround uppers. The differences are in the details and materials.
Both get an adaptable buckle with two mounting points to fit more feet.
The inside faces use a textured surface that might possibly have some aero benefits. The R321 uses a new material, Teijin Avail 100 Ultra, that’s finer than synthetic leather and more amenable to the heat molding custom fit process. But, once done, they say it’s less susceptible to stretch. The R171 uses standard synthetic leather and isn’t heat moldable…but it does keep the excellent Dynalast.
There’s plenty of padded overlap between the outer flap and tongue.
The R321 (left) gets toe vents on the front with a plastic bumper for protection. The R171 simply carries the syn leather all the way over.
The R321 has a softer material at the top of the heel, but both feature the directional anti-heel-lift fabric in that section to keep your foot securely in the shoe during sprints.
The R171 uses a UD carbon fiber sole, and the R321 gets a lighter, stiffer hollow channel woven carbon sole. Both offer a wide range of cleat adjustment, and both are available in half and wide sizes. Note the bottom air vent and rubberized heel and toe treads, too. Retail for the R321 is $380 in sizes up to 48. The R171 runs up to size 50, price is $200.
CONCEPT SHIMANO METREA COMMUTER BICYCLE GROUP
Shimano’s known for their due diligence before launching something. Fail fast may be a modern business mantra, but it’s not part of the Japanese giant’s M.O. However, they’re not above putting a concept out there ahead of its time to test the waters. Enter the Metrea group.
While the name suggests a city commuter, the bike pictured above has a decidedly more road and performance flair to it. If the drawing above has any meaning to it, we could be looking at a few interesting concepts. Namely, minimized brake rotor aesthetics and lean paired spoke wheels.
Sleek levers sit at the end of the bars. The ergonomics seem a bit off as shown, but bullhorn style bars with full feature levers have been seen in other concept bikes, too. You can’t see any cables, but they’re presumably there since this is not a Di2 concept.
Beyond that, the parts take on a much shinier, high end metro look and feel.
Even in the future, we may have to use cables. Sigh…