Saturday, March 23, 2024

Road Trail Ride: Shimano SH-RX801 Gravel Bike Shoes Review

Article by Jeff Valliere

Shimano SH-RX801 Gravel Bike Shoes ($275)

11.5oz/325 grams (with Shimamo SPD cleat) size 44eu/US 10

Available now including at our partner Backcountry HERE


The SH-RX801 blends the off road versatility of a top end mountain bike shoe with the lightweight, stiffness and rigidity of a high performance road racing shoe.  Aimed at the gravel riding/racing crowd, grand fondo riders, or anyone looking for a shoe that is walkable yet can perform at a very high level on the bike.  

The RX801 is light, stiff and very well built, with enough outsole and traction for easy off the bike walking and mildly technical hike-a-bike.  One of the top features that drew me to this shoe was the BOA Li2 dial that adjusts for easy and quick fit and fine tuning on the fly.

Pros: Light, stiff/efficient power transfer, secure upper with easy adjust Li2 BOA fit system, durable upper, well treaded outsole

Cons: Velcro strap over toe box is essentially useless, a second BOA dial would be preferable, outsole can feel a bit hard for hike a bike in rocky terrain

First impressions, Fit, Upper:

Out of the box, I am impressed by the sleek and modern design, yet simultaneously classic Shimano look of the Silver colorway.  For such a light shoe, the upper materials feel very rugged, durable and well constructed.  

Immediately notable is the BOA Li2 fit system which, from a single dial on either shoe, integrates nicely with the upper and middle midfoot overlays, with the toe box depending on a simple velcro strap.

The BOA Li2 dial is dual directional, wherein you can rotate it clockwise to tighten and counter clockwise to relieve pressure-without having to pop the dial loose and have to start over tightening.  I love this mechanism on trail running shoes, it is especially convenient on the bike to make quick, easy, on the fly adjustments with minimal attention or distraction.

The BOA Li2 system snugs down quite securely, providing very even pressure across the top of the foot.  While I have only tested during the winter months, the dual directional dial will be amazing for relieving any pressure from foot swell on hot summer days.  

Since it is so easy on any ride, keep the dial appropriately snugged down on the flats and downhills, but when I hit a big climb, it is super handy to crank the BOA down a few extra clicks for added pedaling efficiency.  

The velcro strap over the toe box provides little if any benefit, to the point where I do not even loosen or snug it, leaving it in a neutral position.  While I would prefer an extra BOA dial in place of the velcro strap, I find that the single dial design provides a very good secure fit.

The tongue is a wrap over burrito style tongue which is well padded, as is the heel collar, providing great comfort and good heel lockdown when pedaling or walking.

The perforated upper is thick, durable and well ventilated.


The RX801 features a carbon composite sole that is stiff and lightweight, optimized for increased pedaling power through the pedal stroke. The shoe is incredibly stiff and super efficient for any type of effort on the bike, be it casual rides, long climbs or all out efforts.

Compatible with SPD cleats, they are easy to set up and align, especially given  the hash marks.

The tread is made of a “high grip”, scratch resistant rubber outsole.  This is very helpful for general off the bike walking and light hike-a-bike, though overall the bottom of the shoe feels pretty hard under foot when walking on rocky terrain, so if you will be doing that a lot, then either expect a bit of a rough ride, or look for a more touring oriented model with more soft rubber underneath.

I have only done light walking in them and very minimal hike-a-bike, but they feel nice and stable overall but definitely more performance oriented on the bike though than off.


The RX801 is a great option for those looking for a reasonably lightweight, super stiff, high performance race ready gravel shoe that is also reasonably capable off the bike.  

The star of the show is the BOA Li2 fit system, that despite having just a single dial, provides very good lock down and is very quick/easy to tighten or loosen on the fly with hardly any attention neeeded.  Moving forward, I will be using the RX801 for all of my gravel bike and around town needs.

Available now including at our partner Backcountry HERE

Jeff Valliere has been around bikes his entire life, as a toddler following his dad to bike races and bike shops, BMX racing as a kid, working in bike shops as a mechanic for 14+ years (10 at U-Bikes in Boulder where he met John) and racing as a professional road cyclist for several years.  Jeff no longer races, but still loves to ride as he introduces his daughters to the joys of cycling.  In addition to being obsessed with cycling, he runs mountains daily and has been reviewing running shoes/gear/tech for RoadTrailRun since 2015 and for other publications/companies since 2005.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! 

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