You don't get Boa dials on the Shimano RP9 cycling shoes, but they are heat-mouldable with a stiff carbon sole
Shimano has made a big splash in the cycling shoe market this year with its £320 S-Phyre RC9, its first shoe with Boa closures. However, the company had already been making nice cycling footwear for years using ratchets and Velcro to keep the uppers closed and its top non-Boa shoe is the Shimano RP9. You save yourself £100 over the price of the S-Phyre RC9 but still get a really comfortable fit and a lot of adjustability.
The shoe’s cross-weave carbon sole is rated at stiffness 11 by Shimano, one down from the RC9. There’s a large vent hole under the forefoot to help keep the soles of your feet cool. Wide heel and toe bumpers make walking easy.
The insole has venting holes aligned with the sole vent. It also contains a slot into which you can slide different height arch supports to match the height of your instep. Added to this, both the insole and the shoe’s upper are heat mouldable. Pop them in the oven then put them on and the uppers and insole will shape to your feet.
The uppers have a surround design without a separate tongue. They’re closed by two Velcro straps, offset to avoid pressure over the apex of the foot. The top closure is a ratchet, inverted so that the mechanism is attached to the closure rather than the shoe. The ratchet’s plastic strap can be fixed in one of two different positions to ensure a comfortable fit.
At the rear, there’s a very soft, flexible top to the heel cup. There’s enough rigidity lower down the cup to ensure the heel doesn’t slip around, with the top adding plenty of heel comfort.
Apart from the sole vent, there’s a mesh vent over the outside of the toes and small perforations up both sides of the uppers. Shimano also uses a rigid plastic toe cap with an array of vents to channel air into the shoe from the front.
This all adds up to a lot of foot comfort when out riding, with the foot feeling well supported and surrounded by the sole. I’ve found the Shimano RP9 shoes very comfortable for longer rides. I like the uncluttered design; it looks businesslike and functional. The white does show the dirt quite quickly, though. Fortunately Shimano offers a black option and they can be machine washed.
Like many of Shimano’s other high-end shoes the RP9s come in a huge range of sizes too: from 36 to 50 including 37 to 47 in half sizes. There are also wide fit options for all sizes up to 48.
They may have been overshadowed by Shimano’s newer Boa shoes, but these top-end ratchet-closed shoes deserve consideration if you are looking for a quality pair of cycling shoes. They’re comfortable, heat-mouldable, have a low stack height and look the part. And they’re £100 cheaper than the Boa dialled S-Phyre RC9s too.