“Well they certainly are blue” – those were the first words we uttered when we saw the TR9s up close. At the time, we were standing inside the Shimano tent at Interbike and had spotted the then brand new TR9 in the distance. Our next thought was that these were going to look amazing next to our AeroGeeks green Trek Speed Concept (what can we say, we are suckers for proper color coordination). But then we finally got to checking out the details that Shimano had put into these shoes, and we realized that our first two thoughts did not do these shoes justice – Shimano really had something special on their hands.
The Shimano SH-TR9 Triathlon Shoe
Shimano has been making dedicated triathlon footwear for 13 years, and you can see all that they have learned in the TR9. The TR9 starts with a lightweight, stiff carbon fiber composite sole and a stability-enhancing dual-density, cupped insole. The result is 10/12 stiffness rating for optimum power transfer and a cushioning effect to prepare feet for the final punishing leg of any triathlon.
The upper part of the shoe is made from synthetic leather, which makes the shoe durable and stretch-resistant, at 502 g (size 40). Perforations in upper provide an air intake and exhaust system. This, along with a three-layer ventilation mesh on the upper, allow feet to breathe and dry post-swim. The anatomical toe cap also allows air intake whilst maintaining rigidity and durability.
Combined with 11mm of SPD-SL cleat adjustability, the sole construction offers an additional 11mm of adjustment, doubling the standard fore and aft cleat setting range to help you find the ideal shoe-to-pedal fit.
New for Shimano’s high-end triathlon footwear is the addition of a second Velcro strap on the front of the shoe, offering a more customized fit. An added feature on the top inward-facing strap is a sectioned construction of the end piece, giving the rider the option to neatly trim the strap to match his or her foot size and aerodynamic preferences.
To help riders make time gains in those all-important transitions, the TR9 features a hook-and-loop Velcro Quick Strap, extra-wide collar, and off-set Quick Loop on the heel, all of which simplify foot entry and quicken the rider’s transition onto and off the bike.
The TR9 retails for $199, which is a bit lower than some of the other top-end footwear available on the market. Also available is a women’s specific version in White.
If you had caught our updates on the TR9 in our WiR, you will have noticed that there was a consistent trend in our comments about the TR9 – these are easily the most comfortable triathlon shoes that we have worn to date. The inner is clearly made for sockless riding. Perforations along the entire outside of the shoe, along with ventilation located at your toes, help to keep your feet cool when mother nature turns up the heat.
And when things get wet – and in this sport, that’s just about every ride – the TR9 has a smart trick up its sleeve. The insole is perforated under the toes and arch, allowing for water to more easily get to the vent located under your toes.
The heel loop is another smart piece of work. Up top is plenty big enough for you to reach down and pull your shoe on as you pedal out of T1. Underneath the main loop is a smaller loop for you to rubber band your shoe to your bike.
The main strap has the fairly standard notch to keep it open as it waits for you in transition. But what is really cool is a small piece of Velcro on the strap (and a matching piece of Velcro on the top of the shoe) that helps hold the shoe open wider when the strap is in the open position. This makes getting your foot into the shoe during a flying mount even simpler.
Our only real gripe with the shoe is that the strap closes to the inside, which we have found leads to the strap sometimes brushing against the crank (and yes, we know some of you will tell us that is exactly how a strap is supposed to go—call it a personal preference thing). Shimano has considered this, and intentionally made the end of the strap trim-able to both keep it from rubbing while making it lighter and even a little bit more aero.
Speaking of aero, the golf ball dimpling around the shoes is meant to provide you that extra bit of aero advantage. However, we would like to see some specific data to back that up.
Our only other thought is that while Shimano ranks this a 10 of 12 stiffness rating, we did find these had a touch of give to them. Nothing most will notice, but when worn back-to-back with some of its (albeit more expensive) competitors, we did notice it.
We are fans of the TR9. It’s a lot of good ideas in an extremely comfortable shoe for a very reasonable price. We would say these are a good option for both those looking for an upgrade as well as those looking to make a smart investment in their first tri-specific shoe. As long as you like the color blue, that is.