SH-XC501 BICYCLES SHOES BLACK
The success of Shimano's S-Phyre top end cycling shoes has resulted in the carry over of many of the design features and technologies to mid range models that deliver excellent performance at much more accessible prices. The $160 retail SH-XC501 Mountain Shoe is a prime example. Yes, the materials are downgraded, but at less than half the price, you will truly appreciate the capabilities of this excellent shoe.
One of the similarities with it's S-Phyre sibling is the low stack height mid-sole, which serves to stabilize the foot closer to the pedal, which maximizes power transfer and overall pedaling efficiency while limiting foot fatigue. Instead of a very expensive carbon plate, Shimano uses their best glass-fiber reinforced composite material to create this mid-sole component. While not as stiff as the exceptional carbon version, the deflection in the sole is minimal. A Shimano exclusive Michelin tread rubber offers exceptional grip and traction, with excellent mud shedding properties so dismounts, walking and carrying are safer and surer. The low profile replaceable spikes that come with the XC501 are suitable for most XC race and trail use, but cyclocross riders or those who ride in softer or muddy locales may prefer the 18mm spikes Shimano offers separately.
The XC501 uses the Surround wrapping upper structure, which envelops the foot better, complementing the low stack mid-sole system. The synthetic leather upper features mesh panels and TPU material for mild stretch and better overall fit. The breathability is much improved over the shoe it replaces. Pulling the the upper together, and allowing for a micro-adjustability of the fit tension is a Boa L6 Dial set-up that uses a crossover pattern to tension the mid and upper sections evenly via low profile glide anchor mounts on both sides of the closure. The dial itself pops up for immediate release of all tension, while the dial action itself can micro adjust in both directions. For the toe box area the very effective hook and loop closure is simple and familiar to just about everyone.
Shimano has set standards for cycling shoes, and the Dynalast system is a great example. This foot last has a natural ergonomic shape for holding and supporting the foot while riding to best transfer power, reduce arch and forefoot fatigue, and reduce hot spots from friction. It is perhaps best known for it's "toe-spring" section, but that is a function of the overall design from heel to toe. This is complemented by their adaptable cup removable insole, standard heel cup design, and consistent width and length construction. Shimano has added their expanded cleat mounting range design to the XC501, with a full 20mm of fore-aft adjustment, which allows better cleat position optimization for those with more variable foot shape or personal preferences.