EB14: New Top Level Shimano SH-R321 Road Shoes, Plus Metrea Commuter Bicycle Group Concept

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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…

Shimano-SH-R321-and-R171-road-bike-shoes

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.

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Both get an adaptable buckle with two mounting points to fit more feet.

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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.

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There’s plenty of padded overlap between the outer flap and tongue.

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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.

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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.

Shimano-SH-R321-and-R171-road-bike-shoes

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

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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.

shimano-prototype-concept-metrea-commuter-bicycle-drivetrain-group

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.

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Beyond that, the parts take on a much shinier, high end metro look and feel.

shimano-prototype-concept-metrea-commuter-bicycle-drivetrain-group

Even in the future, we may have to use cables. Sigh…

Bike.Shimano.com

Comments

anyhoo - 09/02/14 - 9:27pm

That crank is a beauty.

His Highness Lord Wrinkle---- - 09/02/14 - 9:28pm

Soooo… From the side view drawing, it looks like they’re serious about that new disk mounting standard “Flat Mount”. Swell.

Bill - 09/02/14 - 10:54pm

Metrea is not a concept, its an actual product that is in production

Rider X - 09/03/14 - 12:28am

Wow a commuter bike with no room for fenders and no rack mounts. In the future I guess there will be no rain due to global warming and we won’t need to carry anything to work because of replicator machines.

dislivello - 09/03/14 - 1:31am

Flat mount for rear make sense.for front no becouse need 4 screw for fix the caliper.question is caliper flat m is free or is patent ?

EATRIDEGROW - 09/03/14 - 3:01am

Everytime I see another chainset with a proprietary bolt circle, a little part of me dies inside…

kitty - 09/03/14 - 5:26am

EATRIDEGROW- You might remember when 4-bolt 104 was a new proprietary standard from Shimano in the late nineties. You might even remember when ‘compact’ 58/94 MTB cranks were this annoying new standard Shimano insisted on putting on new mountainbikes in ’94-ish. Both of those BCDs solved existing issues, and both went on to be the new dominant standard for all manufacturers.
The important thing is that they keep getting used in new stuff and aren’t discontinued after one product cycles like the ’06 XTR BCD was. So far Shimano is using this new pattern on 4 road groups and 2 MTB ones – I bet it’s here to stay, and it’s only a matter of time until all the OEMs start making cranks in this pattern too.
Let’s also remember that this is a practical improvement too – why wouldn’t you want a crank that can fit any size ring from compact right up to huge TT sizes? that’s physically impossible with the multiple current solutions.

buriedundersnow - 09/03/14 - 8:42am

I like the new “flat-mount” standard. A lot about it proves advantageous. It looks cleaner, and if you don’t want to run discs on said frame, it hovers in the background. I’m sure the OEM’s like this.

On the rest of the parts, great job Shimano. You guys are killing it.

FrostByteVA - 09/03/14 - 8:47am

So those shifters, would they be a good second set of shifters for a tri bike? Living in a rather hilly area, I’m not always on the bars when I need to shift (climbing hills for example) and these could give options in either location.

Jose - 09/03/14 - 9:37am

Bill,

In production for 2015? 2016?

EATRIDEGROW - 09/03/14 - 10:08am

@kitty

Why is it in your interest to defend Shimano? Does the introduction of this new “standard” benefit anyone other than Shimano?

Chainrings exist in compact BCD sizes that go up to 56T and if you’re concerned about saving weight and want to eliminate the fifth spider arm (perfectly reasonable) then why not use an existing standard – like 104? Shimano’s persistance with this new standard does not speak to their strength of conviction in their design ideals but simply their desire to make money by forcing* people to buy their own chainrings when they wear out.

This also hurts the consumer because after market chainring producers have to redesign their products to fit around an expanding range of “standards” which pushes up prices. I don’t particularly want to open the box of “internet stores V LBS” but the average LBS cannot afford to stock every standard, so this does them no favours either.

*yes I’m aware, no one is forced to do anything with regards to consumer choice, but if you buy a new Shimano chainset you have no other choice when you need new rings.

Sorry, for the rant: No personal vitriole here.

Matt - 09/03/14 - 12:54pm

Man, the commenters here need a brief lesson on what the word ‘standards’ means.

“A standard can be defined as a set of technical definitions and guidelines, “how to” instructions for designers, manufacturers, and users. Standards promote safety, reliability, productivity, and efficiency in almost every industry that relies on engineering components or equipment.”
– ASME – https://www.asme.org/shop/standards/about-codes—standards

Standards do not mean everybody in an entire industry lock-steps to all use the same thing at the same time. That has never been the case and never will be the case despite what your memory is trying to tell you. For every VHS standard there was a Beta.

Developing new standards is required for any field that wishes to advance from the current bounds of the technology or processes being used. And just because something is ‘more common’ doesn’t mean that something else can’t be a ‘standard’.

Psi Squared - 09/03/14 - 2:12pm

So, Shimano’s new BCD spec is inconvenient for some. I guess that means customers of Shimano will have to do what customers of any other products have always done: weight the plusses and minuses of the product under consideration.

Interestingly, Campy crank users have been able to survive all these years with an odd BCD and a paucity of aftermarket chainrings.

The new group from Shimano looks good.

Psi Squared - 09/03/14 - 3:41pm

Weigh not weight.

hair - 09/03/14 - 4:42pm

That Metrea crank looks tons better than the 4 arm DA. Reminds me of my old Mavic starfish crank.

Jose - 09/04/14 - 7:20am

Would happily buy a Shimano ring set over an aftermarket one all day long.

They made the switch to ensure the use of their chainrings, which in turn ensure the user will have the shift quality that Shimano intended. You look at it like a corporate giant doing evil, which is true when it comes to pathetic FSA which doesn’t shift worth a shit to begin with, but if you’ve had time on a new D/A or Ult crankset you’d understand the difference in shift quality.

It is the same reason Fox requires their suspension to be serviced at a handful of authorized service centers or at their facility. It means that qualified people are working on the product which ensures the product is consistent and the ride quality is what was intended.

I couldn’t imagine how poor a 56t ring on a 110bcd would shift, so much unsupported chainring. Especially with a Di2 or a mechanical 11spd derailleur it would deflect so much unless you had a chainring built similar to 6700 or 7900.

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