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The Trek RSL Knit delivers the best power transfer, fit, and comfort I've found in a road bike shoe. They do this in a coordinated way that non-woven shoes and even modern woven ones cannot match.

With the right aftermarket insole, I can really feel the difference in how these shoes help me ride better, faster, and longer than my other high-end shoes.

Trek's take on integrated cycling shoes varies in fashion and function in some woven or woven looks. They look and feel special and expensive, and both.

If the white pair of Trek RSL Knit I tested didn't take much care to keep clean and their multi-season durability wasn't an open question, I'd willingly spend the US$500, £400, €450 king's ransom they command. . It would be my first choice whenever it's dry and above 50F/10C outside.

They are just beautiful like that.

As it is, I can almost justify buying and saving them for those nice, long, spring and summer days that want to be in the hall when I want to ride in my best kit.


Almost all dual-purpose, performance-grade road shoes these days have a solid outsole. The Trek RSL Knit is no different.

However, power transfer is all about how well the shoes move with your feet and the firm outsole to get the power from your legs to the pedals during your pedal stroke. And the better your feet fit in the shoes, the better they will move.

In the pair I tested, the Trek RSL Knit incorporated a heel cup that seemed to fit my heel shape from top to bottom.

The balls of my feet were perfectly positioned in the stretchy mesh that Trek called METNET, which is a wonky name for metatarsal net.

Then there's the woven upper, which runs from the toes to the middle of the front of your ankle. It fits like a support sock from your front foot back.

Thin and thin synthetic straps hold BOA dials and lace guides. They attach to the edges of the shoe and rest on top of the knitting when you dial in your shoe, so they don't interfere with the supportive sock feeling you get on the upper.

The metatarsal mesh (left) molds to the balls of your feet, while the closure straps don't interfere with the feel of the knitted sock.

Together, the durable outsole, customized heel cup, stretchy METNET, and supportive sock create a sense of perfect fit with the unique contours of my feet. That gave me a more direct relationship with my pedals than before.

That's what effective power transmission is all about.


The sock-like feel of the Trek RSL Knit wraps around the top of my feet, eliminating any potential hot spots. They are more comfortable than most of my work and dress shoes, so again, I don't have a US$500 pair of work or dress shoes, and I don't train in the ones I have.

In the front of the RSL knit, there is plenty of room for my toes to move around without feeling cut off from the snug feeling I get from these shoes all over my feet.

A regular-sized, sturdy bumper surrounds the front of the toes and the large and small sides. And there are ample, non-reversible pads in the front and back of the outsole.


Of course, the surface area is very breathable with all that space recruited. Combining that with two relatively large openings under your toes makes the Trek RSL Knit a great summer, late spring, and early fall road when the temperature is 50F/10C or higher. I wore them in March when it was a few degrees below that, but my feet were cool even with Merino wool socks.


When I first tried on the Trek RSL Knit shoes, I had two reactions: Where's my shoehorn, and do we have Scotchgard in the house?

Until the knit over the middle of my foot loosened, I had to use a shoe horn to get into these Treks. After wearing them a dozen times, I could pull off one, thanks in part to what looks like a ramp to slide the bottom of your heel into the shoe.

That on the ramp it's a smart solution, but the need for one got me thinking – will the knit top continue to stretch when the feeling of the support sock turns into a worn out sock? After three months and a few dozen times wearing them, they don't seem to be stretching anymore, but we'll see.

While I didn't find Scotchgard or any other stain-repellant fabric spray, Trek assured me that the premium RSL Knit cleans up with soap and water. So far, they have, but I also haven't taken them on any dirty rides.

Every white shoe I've ever worn requires extra care to keep it clean. Most of those with synthetic uppers will clean dirt well, less from scuffs. Wearing white is a fashion statement. Given my choice, I'll go with the nice looking Trek RSL Knit option in black.

An additional unknown function is how the lace guides will hold and maintain their shape over time. They are made of a soft nylon similar to that found in other woven shoes rather than the hard plastic used in most road cycling shoes.

When you tighten the RSL Knit dial, the tension of the yarn is about half the width of the guides, reducing the space between the yarns that cross the top of your feet. While this hasn't done it for hot spots yet, I don't know how the guides will hold up to the ropes after a season or two of tightening and loosening.

Like most cycling shoes, the insoles included with the Trek RSL Knit don't provide enough support for my feet. Shoes from Shimano, Northwave, and others come with many arch wedge or insole options, but these Treks do not. For the price RSL Knit sells for, it should.


Before reviewing the Trek RSL Knit shoes, I had previously worn or tested the DMT SH10 knitted or crocheted shoes, the Specialized S-Works Ares, and the Rapha Pro Team road shoes.

DMT and Specialized material shoes have a lot of material woven into the upper, but they are very dependent on other materials of the shoe.

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From left: DMT SH10, Specialized S-Works Ares, and Trek RSL Knit

DMT uses a hard coat on the outside of the bottom part of its weave to protect the shoe. There is also closed cell line equipment on the large inner surface. The only place where the knit is not covered and lined is above your middle three toes.

The Specialized S-Works Ares has a more compact surface area than the DMT SH10 but covers about 2/3rds of the weave with the sturdy screws that support its dials, cables, and guides. The dials are also closer to the centers of your feet than most road bike shoes I've tested or seen.

The Ares has a very heavy seam that is uncomfortable to rub in the open and down in the combined area.

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Large seams around the opening and bottom of the Specialized Ares

While both shoes have ample room for the toe boxes, they are comfortable in the front, and there is no knit or mesh to provide any give inside or outside the balls of my feet. While I like the comfortable fit, both of these models run smaller than most of their predecessors.

The Rapha Pro Team is a functional, stylish, and visually appealing shoe that utilizes a woven polyester upper.

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Rapha Pro Team road shoes

Compared to the Trek RSL Knit, none of these shoes take full advantage of having a knit upper or combine in construction the way Trek shoes do. The main purpose of knit seems to be breathability and attractiveness.

Indeed, DMT and specialized footwear seem to compensate for their use of synthetic materials by covering, lining, or covering most of them.

It seems that Trek has learned that woven shoes not only provide better ventilation but also improve power transfer and comfort.

You can buy the Trek RSL Knit cycling shoes using these links to A journey again Sigma Sports.

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In my review of the best road cycling shoes, you can compare our reviews and ratings of these shoes and competing models.

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