Stiff power transfer and light weight are the primary focus for any XC mountain bike racing shoe, often leaving the price, durability, protection, and comfort as secondary variables. Scott and Carbitex teamed up to create a tougher fabric that’s ready to endure more of a beating and protect riders’ feet without increasing the shoe’s weight. The result of their efforts is the Scott MTB RC SL shoe, made specifically for the demands of modern XC racing.
Carbitex claims that “Carbon fiber has the highest tensile strength of any commercially available fiber. And within its operating limits, it doesn’t stretch. Carbitex CX6 harnesses these key characteristics in an exceptionally flexible form – enabling carbon fiber performance in soft applications.” The materials company is collaborating with a variety of brands who deal in footwear, sports equipment, and travel products.
In terms of weight, these are not the lightest XC shoes around at 409g in size 43 with a Shimano cleat attached. They also aren’t heavy, and that’s a reasonable weight for such a tough shoe, particularly considering the sticky, rubberized sole. Much of their girth lies in the soft rubber that sticks to rocks and coffeeshop floors far better than most other carbon-soled kicks, and makes these stand out beyond their carbon fiber uppers. That added grip has come in handy numerous times when I needed to clip out and set my foot on a stone, where other XC shoes would have slid off and caused me to do the splits.
Any marks they lose on the scale are undoubtedly made up for in the durability and protection measurements. You can whack your foot pretty darn hard with these shoes without breaking any toes or ending up with much more than a bruise. That’s not true for a lot of the XC shoes I have tested. The heal cup holds tight, and it’s sturdy enough to deflect a lot of impacts. The toe cap is similarly bolstered, with no seams to peel free after that first season of riding and racing.
The carbon fiber section of the uppers connects between the sole and the two BOA ratchets, and its non-stretch properties allow for a precise tautness adjustment. Even once the breathable material that’s spaced between the carbon wears out the shoe should tighten and function as intended. That non-carbon-fiber breaths very nicely, letting more wind through these shoes than many leather and synthetic uppers can.
The upper ankle opening on my usual size 43 pair sits quite high on the ankle, causing some discomfort at the front of my ankle where it bends to let my toes pull upward. We all have different bodies, and this won’t be an issue for everyone, but it’s frustrating enough that I would recommend trying these on and walking around in them a bit before dropping €350 ($499USD at Backcountry) on a pair.
On that same “we all grow differently” note, carbon soles often cause foot muscles to cramp, and these are no exception. After pedaling for more than an hour in the MTB RC Sl shoes I can feel tightness in my feet, and after three hours they will painfully cramp up. I though this was something my feet would adjust to, but they never did. I may need shoes with a little more give in the sole than these, but for racing XC that extreme stiffness and efficient power transfer is precisely the goal. They have certainly reached that maximum efficiency/stiffness quotient.
The cleat channel beneath these shoes is as long as most XC options, with no need to drop the cleat as far back as a lot of gravity riders prefer it. Inside, the insoles can be swapped out to make a variety of foot shapes happy.
In conclusion, the Scott RC SL shoes are everything one could want for racing on rocky modern trails, provided they fit properly with your feet. The sticky soles will be a welcome change for anyone who likes stiff carbon soles but doesn’t love what happens when their foot touches the ground.
- Lightweight and stiff
- Fit works with narrow feet
- Grippy lugs
Pros and cons of the Scott RC SL mountain bike shoes.
- Could be too stiff
- Stiffer upper isn’t the most comfortable