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Comparing Shimano SH-R260 to SH-R320

 

SHIMANO SH-R260

Last year, I was asked to test the new SH-R320 – Shimano’s newest flagship road racing shoe. {REVIEW IS HERE} Even before the first ride, I was thoroughly impressed with the quality as well as the fact that someone from Shimano had taken the time to look at the shoe as an entire system. Everything about this shoe is perfect including the best manufacturer supplied insole I have seen. I have high arches which places a lot of the load on the balls of my feet. The remedy for anyone with high arches is to get an insole that is thin enough to fit comfortably inside of a cycling shoe but with an arch support that lifts the arch high enough to take the pressure off of the balls of the feet and onto the middle of the foot where it belongs.

Prior to the R320’s, I searched for pain relief in the form of semi-custom insoles and finally found a great little company in Australia with fantastic insoles. Check out http://g8performance.com.au for the best affordable semi-custom insoles. Look at the Ignites and 2600PRO’s. I’ve spoken to David Lee of G8 several times and with his help and his insoles I was able to reduce the inflammation to about 10% of what it used to be. This made cycling fun again and it says A LOT for G8’s great products!

SH-R320 – The first thing I noticed was their semi-custom insoles with the ability to adjust the arches in 4 height levels using 2 thermo-foam arch pad inserts; none, medium (yellow), high (red), and extra high (using both yellow and red). Using the red inserts, all pressure has been removed from the balls of my feet and I am experiencing no more pain or discomfort. I am again enjoying cycling.

A month ago, a pair of R260’s showed up in the mail with a note asking me to try out these new shoes and compare them to the R320’s. Opening the box I was surprised that these shoes appear to be about 90% of what the R320’s are. Both use the same great insoles and both shoes are a complete redesign from their predecessors. With a price $80 less than the R320’s, I was excited to give these a try.

THE DIFFERENCES;

WEIGHT:

But first, I wanted to weigh the shoes to start figuring out what the differences are. A pair of R320 shoes weighs 70 grams less than a pair of R260 shoes. Doesn’t seem like much, but picking up the shoes, you can tell that the R320’s are lighter than the R260’s.

   

UPPER:

Just like the R320, the R260’s uses synthetic leather upper, but, it’s a different leather than the Rovenica® of the R320. Rovenica® is a very supple synthetic leather that stretches less than the synthetic leather used on the R260. Because of this, the upper on the R260 is slightly thicker than the R320. This translates into (a) the R260 will be slightly heavier, (b) feel slightly stiffer, (c) feel slightly smaller, and (d) feel slightly hotter. I say slightly since you can only feel a slight difference when compared to the R320. With that said, these differences can ONLY be felt after you put some serious miles in with the R320’s, then, jump right into the R260’s. If you jump out of any other shoe, the R260 will feel like an upgrade.

Along with the R320, the R260 has been completely redesigned and is the top of the R200 line.

   

Same Offset straps, different ventilation

Different Heel Liners (top of heel)

Different Heel Caps (rear of shoe)

HEEL LINER AND HEEL CAP:

Other differences include a different heel liner and heel cap. The R260 has a standard cloth heel liner; the R320 uses a silicon bonded anti-slip heel-gripping liner. There is more heel grip on the R320, but, this is only noticeable when putting out high wattage through the shoe and into the pedal. You won’t feel any difference between the heels under 400-500 watts. But there again, the R320 is built for the pro-level cyclist, while the R260 is built for club racers.

HEEL CAP:

The R320 uses a single-piece carbon reinforced ergonomic heel cap while the R260 utilizes a 2-piece design – the top piece being the same carbon reinforced ergonomic technology, while the bottom piece is a heavy duty plastic that is [art of the actual heel.

OFFSET STRAPS:

Both shoes use Shimano’s new OFFSET strap technology which is designed to relieve the tension at the highest point of the foot where pressure tends to be the greatest.Typical non-offset straps will ‘pinch’ the top of the foot which restricts the blood flow to the toes as well as pinches the nerves at the top of the foot. Shimano’s OFFSET straps cinch-down to the left and right of this critical area.

 

 

 

LAST:

Both shoes use the new Shimano DynaLast technology which utilizes an optimized shape for where the bottom of your foot comes into contact with the shoe.

 

DynaLast optimizes your pedaling efficiency by placing your toes and heel in a slightly lower position. This causes less tension in the hamstrings, calves and plantar.

SOLE:

Both shoes utilize the new +11mm wider cleat-adjustment range (front to back) which allows the rider more optimum foot to shoe to pedal adjustment.

More cyclists now a day are placing the shoe more forward in the pedal which takes pressure off the calf muscle and places it onto the quadriceps.

   

HOLLOW CHANNEL CARBON SOLE TECHNOLOGY:

Even though both shoes utilize a carbon fiber sole, the fabrication of these two shoes soles is completely different. The R320 uses the new hollow channel carbon sole technology where the sole is created like a carbon fiber frame. Polyurethane foam is filled into hollow channels then wrapped in carbon fiber. This increases the overall surface area of the sole adding strength and rigidity without adding weight. The R260 is a solid piece of carbon fiber. This adds a little weight to the R260 and gives it a stiffness of 11 out of 12 while the R320 has a stiffness rating of 12 out of 12. For the average rider and club racer, you won’t be able to feel any difference – I sure couldn’t.

CUSTOM FIT:

Both shoes utilize materials that can (and should) be custom-fitted to your feet. Both the insoles and the shoes can be custom fit.

  • The shoes are heated in an oven then placed on your feet. A vacuum bag is placed over the shoes causing the shoes to conform to the exact shape of your feet.
  • The insoles are heat-moldable as well. They also include 2 arch pads (low, high) that can inserted into the insole thereby placing the arch at the perfect height.
  For the SH-R320’s, I highly recommend you get a custom fit done. For the SH-R260, they fit great right out of the box but can be optimized with a custom fitting. Many bike shops that sell these shoes will do a custom fitting for free if you buy the shoes from them.

 

 

LESS FRICTION REDUCES STRESS

Shimano’s Custom-Fit uppers are designed to afford a more comfortable fit during riding. Independent experimental testing* has shown that reduced friction between the upper and the foot leads to a 13% reduction in the instep temperature compared to non-Custom-Fit uppers. Less friction = less heat = more comfort.

*Tested by Unitika Garments Technology & Research Laboratories Ltd.
Exercise method: 200 W at 90 RPM for 10 minutes.

 

 

PRESSURE MAP OF
CUSTOM-FIT INSOLE

This pressure map compares a typical insole with Shimano’s Custom-Fit insole. As you can see, the red areas have the highest pressure.

As described earlier, without a custom fit insole, the lack of support on the arch puts the high pressure point at the ball girth area of the foot. This high pressure ends up causing severe pain in the ball of the foot. After custom fit, the pressure is dispersed evenly, and supported by the broader area of the arch.

Also with custom fit, the heel bone angle is optimized, and the feet do not move around in the shoes.

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

Did you know that both of these lines of shoes are essentially all hand-made!

In order to get these shoes configured quickly, I pulled out the insole and added the red inserts. I then attached the SM-SH12 blue cleats. Wayne Stetina of Shimano showed me a quick trick to getting cleats adjusted quickly and accurately – this is assuming that the old shoes are aligned correctly.

  1. Take the old right shoe and the new left shoe, place the bottom rear corners of the cleats together then press the heels together and angle the new shoe’s cleats so that its heel cup is directly in line with the old shoes heel cup.
  2. Tighten the new shoes cleat screws.
  3. Do the same for the other pair.
  4. Check new shoe to new shoe and ensure that the cleats and heel cups line up.
  5. Tighten down the cleats.
  6. Let sit overnight and retighten cleats once more before riding.

HOW DO THEY FIT? HOW DO THEY FEEL?

Trying on the R260’s for the first time they felt real good. Due to using a slightly thicker upper, they felt a little snugger than the R320’s. Not tight, but comfortably snug. Due to the OFF SET straps, at no time during any ride have I had ‘hot-feet’ or feet/toes that felt as if they were going to sleep.

Although there are an adequate number of vents built into the R260’s, with the shoes being black, coupled with using a slightly thicker upper, the R260’s felt slightly hotter than the R320’s. Not too noticeable on a cooler day, but as we move into summer, there will be a difference felt.

The R260’s were stable while time trialing, climbing and sprinting. They are comfortable for Long Slow Distance rides as well as doing a Chat and Spin.

Even though the R260 is rated an 11/12 in stiffness, I could not tell any difference in stiffness compared to the R320. Both shoes come with the same high-quality insole and both shoes feel very close to each other in terms of performance. Both shoes can be custom fit and my belief is that if you got the custom fitting done, you would be hard pressed to tell which shoe is which.

TRICKLE DOWN TECHNOLOGY:

Shimano is known for using trickle-down technology with their components and wheels, and I applaud them for using this same technique with their new shoes. The R260 is a completely redesigned shoe that takes its cues from the R320 and not from the previous R240.

The R260 fits very well, is stiff, secure and rock-solid. I never experienced any hot-spots or numbness and at $80 less than the R320, you are getting a lot of hand-built shoe for the money.

SUMMARY:

If you are in the market for new cycling shoes, the SH-R260 will more than fill the bill. Racers who want a very high quality shoe at a lower price than the top of the line SH-R320 will like this shoe, in fact, anyone that wants to step up to a reasonably priced high quality shoe should consider the SH-R260.

 

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