Back in July, Shimano announced an impressive overhaul of its shoe range, with new models for both male and female mountain bikers, road cyclists, adventurers and triathletes. We have now received early samples of the all-new RP9 and cheaper RP2 road shoes.
Standing for ‘Road Performance’, the RP range are Shimano’s latest road-offerings aimed at the everyday road cyclist or long-distance sportive (Gran Fondo) rider. Shimano claims these new models balance the requirements of efficiency and comfort. The competition-focused R321 and R171 shoes will remain in Shimano's road footwear range.
The new range consists of the RP9, RP5, RP3 and entry-level RP2. All RP models feature Shimano’s Dynalast shape, which is claimed to provide a more natural platform for the foot and leads to increased pedaling efficiency, less fatigue and reduced chance of overuse injury.
There will also be women’s specific versions of the RP5, RP3 and RP2. There is no RP9, as that position will be taken by the new WR-84 performance shoe.
RP9 – pro-like features
The Shimano RP9
Superseding the R241, the RP9 (AU$329) sits at the top of the new range at roughly the level of Shimano Ultegra. There are many features borrowed from the R321, including a heat-malleable custom fit upper and insole; ‘Surround’ upper that pulls the shoe upper over the foot; and the twin Velcro and reverse buckle fastening system.
Beneath, the RP9’s full-carbon sole offers a claimed 11/12 sole stiffness rating. It’s compatible with all three-bolt road pedal systems and offers adjustable threads for plenty of fore-aft adjustment.
The RP9 shoes offer a premium footbed
Large exhaust ports at the toe work together with an anti-bacterial, ‘mint aroma’ footbed to fight off the funk. The custom fit system also offers interchangeable arch support, a feature previously only available on more expensive models.
Generous, but non-replaceable heel and toe grippers complete the shoe. We weighed our size EU43 sample pair at a competitive 575g.
The RP9 will be available in black (some markets) or white and with sizes ranging from 36-50 (optional wide-fit available in most sizes too).
RP5, RP3 and RP2 – for those on a budget
We received the RP2 for review
From the top, to the bottom, the RP2 drops a few of the performance features found on the RP9. With this, a glass-reinforced nylon sole is noticeably flexier than that of the RP9’s carbon, but does remain lightweight. If the RP9s are equivalent to Ultegra, these could be viewed as a Tiagra-level shoe. That said, the R065 will remain in the range for those wanting the very cheapest.
We’re yet to see the RP5 (AU$199), but it appears similar to the RP3, with the addition of a carbon plate to stiffen its glass-reinforced nylon sole.
Where the RP3 (not pictured) offers a buckle for retention, the RP2 saves a little cost and weight with a triple Velcro strap layout. This is slightly offset over the foot to help spread the tightening force.
The RP5, RP3 and RP2 shoes will work with just about any pedal system
Beyond the addition of a buckle, the RP3 (AU$152) and RP2 (AU$139) are the same. With this, both models feature a sole that accepts both two and three-bolt cleats, meaning widespread compatibility with just about any pedal system. If you do decide to use a SPD-style (two-bolt) cleat, you’ll likely want to use a SM-SH40 adaptor or similar to prevent sliding around on a bare cleat.
What’s most intriguing about the RP2’s sole is how ventilated it is. In addition to a common metal-mesh covered toe port, there are also vents running the length of the mid-foot. These vents line up with a breathable and well-padded insole.
Our EU43-size sample RP2s weigh 569g.
All models are expected to be available from October. UK and US pricing is to be confirmed.