Rigid power transfer and light weight are the primary focus of any XC mountain bike racing shoe, often leaving price, durability, protection, and comfort as secondary variables. Scott and Carbitex have teamed up to create a stronger fabric that’s ready to take more hits and protect riders’ feet without increasing the weight of the shoe. The result of their efforts is the Scott MTB RC SL shoe, specially designed 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 does not stretch. Carbitex CX6 harnesses these key characteristics in an exceptionally flexible form, enabling carbon fiber performance in soft applications. The materials company works with a variety of brands that sell footwear, sports equipment and travel products.
In terms of weight, this is not the lightest XC shoe at 409g in size 43 with a Shimano cleat attached. They aren’t heavy either, and that’s a reasonable weight for such a tough shoe, especially given the sticky, rubberized sole. Much of their girth is in the soft rubber which grips rocks and coffee grounds much better than most other carbon sole kicks, and makes them stand out beyond their carbon fiber uppers. . This extra grip came in handy on several occasions when I had to pull away and put my foot on a rock, where other XC shoes would have slipped and made me do the splits.
Any marks they lose on the scale are undoubtedly outweighed by the measures of durability and protection. You can hit your foot really hard with these shoes without breaking your toes or ending up with more than a bruise. This is not true for a lot of the XC shoes that I have tested. The healing cup holds firmly and is strong enough to deflect many impacts. The tip is also reinforced, without seams to take off after this first season of driving and racing.
The carbon fiber section of the upper connects between the sole and the two BOA pawls, and its non-stretch properties allow for precise tension adjustment. Even after the breathable material that is spaced between the carbon wears out, the shoe should tighten up and perform as intended. This non-carbon fiber breathes great, letting more wind through these shoes than many leather and synthetic uppers.
The upper ankle opening on my usual size 43 pair is quite high on the ankle causing some discomfort in the front of my ankle where it flexes to let my toes pull up. We all have different bodies, and that won’t be a problem for everyone, but it’s frustrating enough that I recommend trying them out and walking in them for a bit before dropping $ 350 ($ 499 at Backcountry) on a pair.
On that same “we all grow differently” note, carbon soles often cramp the muscles of the foot, and these are no exception. After pedaling for over an hour in the MTB RC Sl shoes, I can feel a feeling of tension in my feet and after three hours they will have painful cramps. I thought it was something my feet would adapt to, but they never did. I might need shoes with a slightly softer sole than these, but for XC racing that extreme stiffness and efficient power transfer is precisely the goal. They have certainly reached this maximum efficiency / stiffness ratio.
The wedge channel under these shoes is as long as most XC options, without the need to drop the wedge as far as many gravity runners prefer. Inside, the insoles can be swapped out to please a variety of foot shapes.
In conclusion, the Scott RC SL shoes are all you could want for running on modern rocky trails, as long as they fit your feet well. Sticky soles will be a welcome change for anyone who likes stiff carbon soles but doesn’t like what happens when their foot hits the ground.
⭐️ Scott RC SL MTB shoes are available at Backcountry and Competitive Cyclist.
- Light and stiff
- Fit works with narrow feet
- Adherent pods
Advantages and disadvantages of Scott RC SL MTB shoes.
- May be too stiff
- Stiffer upper is not the most comfortable