Shimano have been perfecting the art of cycling footwear through the years to complement its extensive range of componentry and offer a product that goes hand-in-hand with its market-dominating clipless pedals. For 2018, the industry giant has set its sights on the cycling enthusiast, as opposed to the racers, revamping the popular RP range of footwear to include both unisex and women's specific models.
So with this in mind, I buckled (or BOA’d up) some Shimano’s RP7 Womens specific-road shoes and set about seeing if they indeed deliver as an all-day, performance shoe as claimed.
Who's it For?: The female cycling enthusiast wanting a lightweight and comfortable road shoe capable of an all-day adventure
What we liked: The instant slip-on comfort, subtle reflective detail, and BOA closure system
What we didn’t: Limited colour options could be a deal-breaker
The Detail's are in the Design
The Shimano RP7W is a carbon-soled, performance road shoe designed as an ‘endurance’ shoe for women. With sizes being offered from 36-43, the shoe already outdoes the ‘men's/unisex’ version by widening its size range for a broader appeal. It is the female answer to the unisex RP9, which is the same on all accounts except for the sole, with the stiffness rating on the RP9 one notch higher.
The shoe comes in just one appealing, yet controversial colourway, grey with pink accents. The grey is classy and neat, and the reflective detail on the back of the heel is a welcome addition.
Now, I like a neutral coloured shoe as much as the next person. The presence of pink doesn’t make me feel like its cornering me into my performed gender, but I feel Shimano would have done well here to select a more, gender-neutral colour to both appease those against overly feminine tones and provide another option for males with small feet.
All Day Comfort
When it comes to functionality Shimano have ticked all the right boxes. I found the shoe instantly comfortable and easy to ride in all day, but not jarringly stiff, once again thanks to a carbon sole.
The shoe actually comes in at a lighter weight than my more race-ready Shimano S-Phyre's, tipping the scales at a claimed 217g for a size EU40. The shoe itself features a perforated synthetic upper construction and Dynalast carbon sole, both of which contribute to its svelte nature. The sole features a 9/12 on Shimano's stiffness scale too.
The breathability of the shoe is commendable thanks to this perforated upper. I am yet to experience any notable pressure points or hot spots, but I typically run the adjustments quite loose for comfort's sake.
When it came to initial set-up, I found it easy enough to replicate my cleat position from my other shoes. This was aided somewhat by the lines in the sole to indicate cleat position, but it's not to the same detailed level of the flagship S-Phyre’s.
Fitting and Fastening
The shoes feature two fastening systems, the main one around the middle and upper is the ever-popular BOA, which allows for micro adjustments, easy release, and durability. Across the toe is a simple velcro strap, which although functions as expected, when fastened all the way across has a tendency to bunch the material and make the toebox uncomfortably tight. Not a large issue but something that may irk perfectionists and disrupt aesthetic.
Perhaps contributing most to the overall fit and comfort is the external heel cup, which gently grips the heel as to prevent slipping and movement when moving through the pedal stroke. Shimano claims the heel cup suppresses foot twist and roll, securing the foot and lessening movement.
Compared to other shoes of a similar calibre, the heel cup doesn’t rub or grip too tight, but provides the support where due.
Walking in the RP7’s is as expected with most road shoes, awkward and delicate. However, the rubber pad on the bottom of the heels is enough to instill confidence when shuffling up to the cafe counter for an espresso. The very tip of the shoe is also reinforced with rubber for a little more slip protection and to ease the clipping-in process when riding.
The RP7W offers up great value for money when you consider the list of positives the shoe's carry. They're light enough not to be a burden on long rides, stiff enough to handle competitive efforts in cyclo-sportifs or gran fondo's and breathable enough to keep your feet cool when the mercury rises. So whilst the design and aesthetic may limit its popularity when stacked against competitors, there's little denying the fact the RP7W has all the hallmarks one would look for in a good road shoe.