Shimano footwear commands an almost cult-like following among a strong cadre of supporters—and for good reason. For many, their first encounter with a pair of Shimanos is all it takes before they become the only shoe they’ll even consider sticking a foot in. Replacing the much-loved R315, the Shimano R320 picks up where the R315 design team left off, packing a host of new features in, while cutting a fair amount of weight out, now registering just 276 grams per shoe (in a size 44) on our trusty gram scale.
This comes as welcome news, as weight was one of the few areas one could even try and find fault with on Shimano’s higher-end footwear. As it now stands, the R320s pack a punch that proves to be a knockout blow for many other competitor’s top offerings.
When discussing fit in regard to shoes, it’s often a moot point. With so many different foot shapes out there, good fit is often in the eyes of the shoe-holder. However, that being said, Shimano’s last plays nice with a considerable variety of foot shapes. The shoes worked well for my slightly wider-than-average feet, without necessitating a switch to Shimano’s wide version of the shoe. Offering a good bit of toe room, the R320’s may not be ideally suited for those with low-volume feet, but with a wide adjustment range on the straps and buckles they should prove plenty comfortable for most. A heat-moldable upper and insole are highlights in the fit department, offering a nearly custom feel in an off-the-shelf shoe.
Sole: 10 / Upper: 10
Utilizing Shimano’s Dynalast technology, the carbon soles on the R320 increase efficiency and reduce the unwanted loss of power that occurs in the backspin direction of a pedal stroke. The Dynalast sole on the R320 reduces braking loss by promoting smoother, more efficient pedaling. It’s also plenty stiff so power transfer is optimized during the down stroke as well.
Up top, Shimano’s quality materials selection and design makes for a supremely comfortable and adjustable upper that offers just the right mix of breathability. Constructed out of Rovenica, a synthetic leather from the same manufacturer that invented the first ever synthetic leather back in the 1960s, the R320 uppers are plenty light, but also quite durable. Adjustment is handled by a no-nonsense upper buckle and two lower Velcro straps, all which perform with minimal fuss.
While these kicks from Shimano seem to tick all the right boxes, they do command a good bit of coin at the cash register. However, the feature list for the R320 is a long one, and when compared to similar offerings, the R320 is still a rather competitively priced shoe. But, if we could have our druthers, we’d like to see it priced a bit lower.
Overall Score: 9.5
The Pros: Fantastic fit and a diet make the Shimano R320 worth taking a serious look at.
The Cons: A touch heavy on the wallet.
The Verdict: Shimano has replaced their flagship with a worthy contender. It’s hard to improve on excellent, but it appears Shimano is up to the task.