Shimano R320

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 12:56am by Andy Shen

Shoemakers will sell you on all sorts of features, but for me it’s all about comfort and, sadly, aesthetics. Yeah, lightness and stiffness are nice, but at the end of the day all I want is to never think about my feet, and hopefully look a little less dorky.

The snappily named R241’s I got from 2011’s Shimano press junket were light and incredibly comfortable, but they were black and blue and whenever I saw them out of the corner of my eye I felt like a grownup in dress shoes (this is very disturbing to me). I didn't know how good I had it. I should've stuck with them but my vanity made me go searching for something better.

I snatched up some Bont’s on closeout, and they fit well, looked good, and were very light and stiff. Unfortunately they were so stiff that I got excruciating hot foot after two hours on the bike. Then I tried Scott’s GreenEdge shoes, which looked great, weren’t so light, and were only mildly uncomfortable.

I would’ve stuck with the R241‘s or the Scott’s but Shimano rolled back into town and bestowed this year’s R320’s on me, and what a godsend they have proven to be. The primary feature of Shimano’s top end shoes is their heat moldability – the uppers have inserts that conform to your feet. Last year’s shoes were molded on the spot, but this year the plan was to ride them as is for a few weeks, then have them molded so I could get a sense of the benefits of custom fitting.

Out of the box the shoes fit well enough, slightly tight across the widest part of my foot but totally acceptable. If they were any other shoes I’d consider it a good fit and live with it. They were super light at 591 grams, and while they didn’t feel as stiff as the Bont’s or Scott’s, they certainly weren’t flexy either. Best of all, they achieved ‘invisibility’: I went ride after ride without thinking about my feet.

Three weeks later I visited Will Alvarado of Toga Bikes for my custom fit.

First the insole is warmed and fitted. There are two inserts to choose from. (While we're here check out the black carbon reinforced heel cup on the shoe. More on that later.)

Next the shoes are baked and vacuum bagged. This is a shot from last year's fitting (and cankles! WTF?). The vacuum bagging is so painful that it ought to be in a murder mystery about a bike mechanic who offs the nasty shop owner by bagging his head and sucking the life out of him. Sorry, Dexter, no blood spatter evidence.

The first pedal strokes after the fitting were positively giddy – pressure was so evenly spread throughout that they felt like bunny slippers. The sensation went away as I got used to the fit, and now they're just shoes I don't think about. The only discomfort I've felt since was during long indoor rides, but to be fair, everything's uncomfortable after a couple of hours indoors.

Silicone dots in the lining, along with the aforementioned heel cup, keep your heel in place. Shoes without a grabby heel make me strap myself in more tightly, sometimes to the point where I feel like my metatarsals are being rearranged. Not so with these babies. Just pushing the strap into the ratchet gives me enough tension, I rarely have to crank the ratchet any more.

Nitpicks? As you can see in the shots, the white synthetic leather is discolored after 3 months of nasty winter riding. While the velcro/ratchet system works fine, I still prefer Boa lacing. And the exposed velcro really chews up the insides of my winter booties. They're pricey at $380 but not Sidi pricey. The R-241's, also heat moldable, are a smokin' deal for $200, and they come in white (yay!) as well as last year's black and blue scheme.


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Nothing ever melted. I'd set
By: Andy Shen
Wed, 04/17/2013 - 12:04pm

Nothing ever melted. I'd set the shoe down so only the cleat and the heel bumper touched metal.

oh good lord, april 1 was
By: Axel O-Ring
Wed, 04/17/2013 - 6:17am

oh good lord, april 1 was weeks ago

Lake and Bont
By: Gabriel Tubie
Mon, 04/15/2013 - 5:55pm

Hey Andy, did you just place the Lake and Bont on the oven with nothing protecting the soles? Just carbon to metal contact? Isn't there some type of rubber usually in these shoes (I know my Sidi does) and I'm afraid that will melt.


I've baked Lakes and Bonts
By: Andy Shen
Mon, 04/15/2013 - 12:09pm

I've baked Lakes and Bonts and have had no problems, didn't heat up these myself though.

Can you bake the shoes on your own?
By: Gabriel Tubie
Mon, 04/15/2013 - 6:08am


says 200C for 3 minutes.

Will Carbon Fiber melt if placed against metal? I've never done it before and neither don't want to destroy our oven.

I got a great deal on some 315s online and I'm looking to "fit" on my own. I can get a vacuum bag which does the same thing as the Shimano "fitters".

Have these on order. I wear a
By: Francesco Post
Tue, 03/26/2013 - 10:10pm

Have these on order. I wear a 44.5 in sidi, ordered 45 shimano. Sound right? Have always gotten hot foot from Shimano 44.5.

Shimano's Rock!
By: Goro Rim
Mon, 03/18/2013 - 5:12am

Yep add me to the list of Sidi devotees who switched to Shimano. I wont go back. Looking back the sidi's felt like wellington boots. Sure they last well but the fit is very basic. Shimano has a much better understanding of the human foot and crafting a shoe that gets maximum power to the drive train. My only beef is that the wide fitting in the Shimano shoes doesn't come in half sizes.

S-Works Shoes
By: Robin Brakepad
Fri, 03/01/2013 - 9:06pm


Kudos to Shimano
By: Noe Seattube
Fri, 03/01/2013 - 2:58am

I've been riding Shimano shoes for about 7 years now-going back to the 215 model. I thought Sidi'd were the best things in the world, probably b/c of their heritage. Even though I had sharp pains and numbness after 60 miles, I loved my Sidi's! Then I switched to Shimano b/c I heard and observed that their shoes were designed with the human foot in mind, instead of a mannequin's foot. I use the R300 model, had them molded, and I never felt so comfortable in a cycling shoe in over 20 years of racing. The 315's were so good i didn't even get them molded. Looking forward to upgrading to the 320's. Custom shoe molding is the only logical way to go!

sidi's for life
By: marvo larvo
Sat, 02/16/2013 - 3:42pm

sidi's for life

lucky me
By: Mathieu Tarmac
Thu, 02/14/2013 - 8:21pm

My feet don't complain in my Sidi Genius, so I sick with them. They also come in a plain black color, which I prefer to other colors. I can't see how it is possible to keep white shoes looking good if you ride them outdoors.

Damn those look hot. Full
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 02/14/2013 - 6:34pm

Damn those look hot. Full custom shoes usually look way too crude and handmade.

By: Romain Skidmark
Thu, 02/14/2013 - 5:21pm

I wear size 13AAA shoe. My feet are like x-country skis - long and narrow. I struggle for years and could never find a shoe narrow enough. Sidi Narrow were pretty good, but only the Genius 5 come in narrow width and they are pretty soft in the upper.

I've tried Diadora, Sidi Genius/Ergo, Specialized (also come narrow and were decent, but pedal angle was so bad I need two sets of Lemond wedges) and on it went.

Last spring I sprung for Bont's hoping the moldability would work. I got the narrows, which were wider than the backside of a MTA bus. I baked them in the over so many times my wife wanted to know when I was going on Cupcake Wars or The Next Great Baker. I melted them and use vises to tighten them to my feet...and, they were still a poor fit.

Then, last June I bit the bullet and went custom. The price made me throw up in my mouth like an hard interval workout with a hangover, but I was desperate. I research several companies, and was particularly intrigued with the guys who moved into cycling shoes from the on-line skating world. It came down to Simmons and Riivo. The Simmons were super cool space age looking, but seemed just a little too much over the top. I went Riivo and couldn't be happier.

For the first time in my life I feel like I am in my own shoes...the fit is perfect. They were made from a cast mold of my feet and fine tuned for my riding style. The fit is so good that I am sure I can produce my sustain power over a longer time and can just plain ride more given the comfort.

While the price is insane, if I were to add up the cost of the last 5 pairs of shoes I had to throw away or sell at a loss on eBay, that amount would more than cover the top of the line Riivo. They seem really durable and so I am hoping that I would leave one at a race and have them for awhile.

Highly recommend if you're seeking the perfect fit or have crazy shaped feet.


I used my old Sole insoles,
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 02/14/2013 - 12:47pm

I used my old Sole insoles, still hurt. One friend had the same issue with Bonts, others had no problem.

By: Tubasti
Thu, 02/14/2013 - 5:44am

Bonts are a lot more comfortable if you use somebody else's footbeds, Specialized or Giro, f'rinstance. Our Bont rep told us that.

By: Monorchid Conconi
Thu, 02/14/2013 - 3:44am

white shoes are scientifically proven to add 40 watts per upstroke.

I've had Sidi, DMT, Diadora,
By: Andy Shen
Wed, 02/13/2013 - 7:25pm

I've had Sidi, DMT, Diadora, Lake, but never Specialized. Loved the Lakes but they were Speedplay drilling and I switched from Speedplays.

I ordered these 2 weeks ago
By: yack
Wed, 02/13/2013 - 7:16pm

I ordered these 2 weeks ago to replace my 6 year old Shimano R-300's (their original vacuum/heat moldable shoe). The wide version of the shoe will not be available until mid March...so I wait. The idea of having a speedplay specific sole is enticing...but the perfect fitting shoe trumps all.

By: Julien Ziptie
Wed, 02/13/2013 - 6:18pm

I switched to S-Works from Lake CX400's and have to say that I prefer the Lake's moldable heel area as it provides a more secure "grip".

yeah i tried s-works, and
By: Chucky Sheen
Wed, 02/13/2013 - 5:58pm

yeah i tried s-works, and they sucked & hurt like hell, just like last night's escort.

and that
By: deleted
Wed, 02/13/2013 - 5:11pm

is a cool story, bro

Tried S-Works Road shoes?
By: Yanis Brazeon
Wed, 02/13/2013 - 5:04pm

Just curious how they compare. I find them to be ridiculously comfortable. They seem to fit my foot, out of the box, like nothing I've ever tried.

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