Japanese manufacturer Shimano have been pioneers in producing cycle components and footwear for decades. Continuously developing new technology across their product range to help cyclists improve the way they ride. For 2016 Shimano has revamped their footwear and introduces an new range aimed to close the gap between professional and recreational cycle shoes. We have been testing the Shimano RP5 road shoes for the last few months.
At a first glance, the Shimano RP5 road shoes ironically stand out for their understated, simplistic looks and lack of colours and details. Opting for a solid black or white finish, they adopt some of the advanced technology used in Shimano’s Road Competition range, including their Dynalast system. This is designed to increase pedaling efficiency and power by securing the foot in an ‘optimal position’ for the full revolution of the pedals – thus producing a more fluid pedal stroke with less power-loss as the ride pulls their foot up. Another unique piece of Shimano technology is the synthetic ‘surround’ upper. This moves the shoes away from the traditional ‘tongue’ fitting and is designed to wrap around the foot – holding it comfortably and securely in place. The upper is well ventilated, covered in perforations around the foot and heel and an additional mesh toe vent.
The surround upper is fastened with Shimano’s Adaptable Closure System. This is made up of two wide Velcro fastening straps which are off-set to reduce the pressure across the top of the foot. Shimano’s reverse ratchet fastening system is the main closure point and is the same system that is used on their performance and competition shoes. This system is also designed to offer the maximum comfort whilst holding the foot securely, but putting less pressure across the instep and top of the foot during each pedal stroke. The ratchet is easy for fasten and tighten – although I found the button to loosen the buckle was a bit fiddly and seemed to have moments where it didn’t want to work. This could just have been down to the pair being tested. One thing that I really liked about Shimano’s closure system was the fact that the position of the strap is adjustable. Having quite a high instep could simply move the fastening strap using a hex (Allen) key.
On first inspection, the heel cup felt soft and flexible compared to some shoes that fall into this bracket, but in actual fact this cradled the nicely once the shoe was on and during riding. The heel cup is designed to support the heel from the base of the foot up to the Achilles from the outside of the shoe.
The sole of the Shimano RP5 road shoes is Glass-Fibre Nylon reinforcement and a carbon fibre plate at the cleat point. The combination provides a good, stiff platform (rated 7 on the Shimano stiffness index) and there is little flex when putting the power through the pedals or riding out of the saddle on a climb. The shoes will accommodate both two and three bolt cleats, or in Shimao’s world – SPD and SPD-SL cleats. The sole offers good ventilation with a large exhaust at the toe and smaller vents further down the foot. As is common with most road shoes, there is a rubber toes grip at the from of the shoe and a fixed, non replaceable heel grip at the rear.
The inside of the shoe is very comfortable but sizing proved to be a little tricky. The shoes we tested are a size 46 (UK 10.5) which has always been a good fit. However, the Shimano RP5 feel a bit tighter than expected in this size and a 47 too big. After making all of the relevant adjustments it came down to the very well padded Shimano insoles. These offer great cushioning and ventilation and almost feel like they mold to the shape of your foot.
Shimano RP5 Road Shoe Review Conclusion
The Shimano RP5 is built for comfort as much as performance and is designed to provide the maximum level of both on long and shorter rides. Having worn these shoes for some time now and testing them on a range of ride distances up to a 4, I can confirm that these shoes achieve both. The sole is impressively stiff and when changing from an steady to a sprint pace, they showed very little flex under my 96kg weight. The surround upper design holds the foot nicely in place throughout each pedal rotation. I really like the fact that you can adjust the position of the buckle and whilst the reverse buckle idea may seem a little bit of a gimmick, it works well. The shoes looks may not suit everyone and one comment received suggested they look like a (tap) dancing shoes, but we really like the low key, understated looks. The shoes are priced with an £89.99rrp which for a shoe of this quality is very reasonable but at the time of this review both Evans Cycles and Wiggle have between 10-15% off.
Very good road cycling shoe with some nice little features including an adjustable closure system. Really like the understated design and if you are brave enough, the white version looks very professional. Good stiff sole and well ventilated.