by Marc Basiliere
January 25, 2014
Shimano shoes- but not as we know them
While we have long known about Shimano’s strong fishing reel business, it was only recently that the company’s expansion into rowing came to our attention. Unsurprisingly building on Shimano’s clipless pedal and cycling shoe experience, the SRD (Shimano Rowing Dynamics) system is at once familiar and strange, with its own aesthetics and terminology (kind of like road bikes).
In rowing, the “Stretcher” is analogous to bicycle pedals. The platforms (and SPD-esque retention mechanism) are allowed to swing about a “Virtual Pivot” axis that runs through the rower’s foot. Rather than a twisting to release, the mechanism is designed to let go on heel lift: a major improvement in a sport where shoes are often fixed to the vehicle.
Not everyone gets to steer, but for those who do, a steering mechanism is located under the right foot. An adjustable-force centering mechanism allows the neutral rudder position to be held easily or found by feel.
As with cycling, stiff soles allow the rower to translate as much force as possible into forward movement. Shimano’s “toes up” is used here as well to make the most of every piggy’s contribution. The rowing shoe range has clear cousins on the cycling side, with models looking very much like their road and indoor cycling (Spin) counterparts. One notable addition is the grab handle that releases both straps simultaneously- no doubt a nice feature to have in an overturned boat. Treads are designed for slippery docks rather than slippery rocks.
Ultimately, we just thought that Shimano’s foray into another world was interesting. While the cycling influence on rowing product is clear, perhaps our side will see benefits in terms of quick-drying or anti-odour materials? Or maybe just knowing that our baseline isn’t sharing shoes is enough:
Not only is SRD safer than conventional systems, it is far more hygienic. Each rower can have their own individually fitted shoes which easily clip in and out of each of the SRD Foot Stretcher. Other than rowing, in what sport must an athlete share his/her shoes with another athlete?