A little while ago, Shimano announced a new range of cycling shoes designed for the grand fondo and sportive rider. These new shoes, according to Shimano, “bring the optimum balance of speed, rigidity and all-day comfort to the power-transmitting platform”. Three models were launched: the RP2, RP5 and the top of the range RP9. Also launched were new women’s shoes, the RP5W, RP3W, RP2W and the WR84.
Conceptually this made a lot of sense to me, as for long or fast recreational riders, I don’t necessarily want the same things from my shoes as a racer. But I do want something high performance, comfortable and fit for purpose.
I’m currently trying a set of the top of the range RP9 shoes and first impressions are very positive indeed. The RP9 brings the same heat molded custom fit tech from the higher end race shoes. The look is clean and also mimics the more aerodynamic outer design as seen in the R321 and R171 as the fastenings pull the shoe closed into a shape that seeks to smooth airflow over the shoes, which also makes for a very uncluttered aesthetic. The lower two straps are Velcro and a reverse ratchet strap at the ankle allows for more fine tuning of fit. The shoe has a sort of a clam shell fit that wraps around your foot as you put them on. It’s a little unusual but it works well and is how the aerodynamic shaping is achieved.
The carbon weave Dynalast sole, is rated 11/12 for stiffness, which is only slightly less than the top of the range R321 race shoes. It also looks good, has vents at the front of the toe and under the toes as well as the obligatory 3 point SPD/Look cleat fittings. There are further exhaust ports for air flow on the upper to let air pass through the shoe from the inlet under the toes.
The syntethic upper is marketed as being durable and it has a pleasing lack of obvious branding and logos. It’s available in two colour choices – white or black. Out of the box, they feel like durable shoes and in fairness, my other pair of Shimano shoes have lasted very well, so I’m optimistic that these should too.
As a higher end model in the Shimano road shoes range, the RP9 also feature custom fit insoles which can be heat treated by your dealer to fit you even better. I’ve not taken that step, rather just put on my cleats and got out on the road.
In what was a perfect way to begin with these shoes, I took them with me on a trip to the Ardennes in Belgium this week. I’ve put in around 100km in them and climbed a couple of thousand metres.
My first impressions are that these are the most comfortable shoes right out of the box I’ve ever ridden in. For me, there was no “wear in” period at all. Once the cleats were in the right spot, I felt very comfortable from the first kilometre. The first ride took 4-5 hours and I was totally comfortable throughout, which is exactly what the shoes are intended to deliver. The fit of the shoes is excellent and to me they felt just slightly wider than my other Shimano shoes. The reverse buckle and Velcro straps gave a perfect fit. Power transfer was good. The overriding sensation was simply of comfort. I think they look good too, but that’s a personal thing.
I intend to keep riding the shoes over the next month or so and will update this review to see how they cope with a range of conditions and temperatures. First impressions are excellent. Right now I can’t think of a reason not to recommend Shimano’s RP9 road shoes. They look good, fit well, are easy to adjust and extremely comfortable. If you’re after shoes that help you stay comfortable for long rides, definitely put these on your short list.
The Shimano RP9 shoes retail for £174.99 which I feel is very good value for the quality of the product, but as always, you can find even lower prices if you shop around. Included in the price is a simple bag for keeping the shoes in when you’re not wearing them, which is a welcome addition.
You can find more information here: http://www.shimano-lifestylegear.com/gl/fw/products/road/022sh_rp9.php
Thanks for reading
Updated August 2016: I’ve now posted my final thoughts on these shoes here: http://girodilento.com/shimano-rp9-road-cycling-shoes-review/
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