Shimano XC903 MTB Shoes Podium at Sea Otter

Shimano XC903 MTB Shoes Podium at Sea Otter

Hannah Otto and Bradyn Lange Showcase New S-PHYRE Footwear

Endurance mountain bike racing took another leap forward in 2024 at the Sea Otter Classic, kicking the season off with stacked professional fields and fierce racing over the 100-kilometer course. As the first stop of the Lifetime Grand Prix, it was a key race for many top athletes looking to set the stage for a solid MTB and gravel campaign this year.

Hannah Otto racing at the Sea Otter Classic wearing shimano's new SH-XC903 MTB shoes

For Shimano-sponsored pro racers, Hannah Otto and Bradyn Lange, Sea Otter also presented an opportunity to test the new S-PHYRE XC903 mountain bike shoes in a race format. While Lange suffered a mechanical mid-race that took him out of the running for a podium, Otto went on to secure a hard-fought third place in what was a grueling day of tactics and speed.

"I'm so excited to give my brand new Shimano S-PHYRE shoes their first podium experience in their debut race at Sea Otter Classic,” Otto shares. “There's just something about the all-white shoes that gives you extra watts!"

white pair of Shimano SH-XC903 SPD 2-bolt clipin mountain bike shoes

Since its debut in 2016, Shimano's top-of-the-line XC9 shoes have been the go-to choice for countless elite-level pros. In its third generation, the latest XC903 model features a lighter and more breathable surround-wrapping upper made from a unique microfiber leather that's more elastic and supple but also extremely durable.

“The biggest thing I noticed right away was how much nicer the fit is,” Lange shared about his XC903 shoes. “I can get the shoes much tighter on my foot than the previous version. Sometimes overly tightened shoes can cause hot spots and discomfort, but I have not experienced this in the 30+ hours I’ve spent in the new shoes.”

Shimano Gravel athlete Bradyn Lang at Sea Otter Classic

Optimizing foot security and position during intense accelerations and high cadence efforts, the new XC903 incorporates the same anti-twist stabilization functionality found on Shimano’s top-of-the-line road shoe, the S-PHYRE RC903. “It almost feels like there’s a suction cup around your heel when you have these shoes on,” explains Shimano lifestyle and gear product manager Jessie Gascon.

Both Otto and Lange appreciated this comfortable yet secure fit on Sea Otter's punchy singletrack climbs and over the crux of the race, which takes racers up Lookout Ridge and pushes riders to the limit with extended periods of over 10% in gradient.

Hannah Otto racing the Sea Otter Classic Life Time grand prix in Shimano SH-XC903 mtb shoes

Foot stabilization is further enhanced thanks to the low-profile dual-direction BOA Li2 closure dials that allow precise micro-adjustment for a customized fit without fear of de-tensioning, no matter how hard you're pedaling. There's also a small shield below the bottom BOA dial to protect against accidental releases from impacts. And Shimano replaced the plastic power zone cable guides with softer mesh guides that are sleeker, more comfortable, and lighter than those on the previous XC9 model.

“I've typically leaned towards racing in road shoes for endurance MTB races for the feeling of the shoes "hugging" your feet and having more power transfer to the pedals,” Lange goes on to share. “The new XC903s give me that exact feeling I'm searching for, so the days of using road shoes in a MTB race are over for me.”

White pair of Shimano SH-XC903 S-PHYRE MTB cross country race shoes SPD

The new S-PHYRE Shoes seamlessly combine a snug but adjustable fit with a low stack height carbon midsole that stabilizes the foot for optimal power transfer efficiency. Shimano’s durable and lightweight ULTREAD XC rubber outsole and specially designed tread pattern also deliver exceptional off-bike grip even in the slickest racing conditions.

Shimano White SH-XC903 S-PHYRE SPD 2 bolt MTB cross country race shoes

Whether racing for the podium at North America’s top endurance mountain bike races or hitting some hot laps on the local trails with friends, the new S-PHYRE XC903 deliver a purpose-built shoe to meet the exacting needs of Shimano’s top athletes—or anyone looking for the ultimate off-road racing shoe.