Shimano entered the cycling shoe market in 1990 when it unveiled its M100 shoe in conjunction with the M737 pedal for off-road riding. Twenty-six years later, Shimano’s shoe catalogue is stacked with almost 50 different shoes to suit a variety of riding disciplines (road, off-road, and touring).
There are four categories in Shimano’s current road shoe range: Road Competition, Road Performance, Triathlon, and Road Touring. Each category is self-explanatory but it’s worth noting that the major distinction between Road Competition and Road Performance shoes is that the latter are built for extra comfort.
The RP3 is one of Shimano’s lower-priced Road Performance shoes, and as such, aims to give entry-level riders access to some technology without blowing their budget. To this end, low-cost materials — synthetic uppers and glass-reinforced nylon soles — account for much of the shoe’s economy.
As for Shimano’s shoe tech, the RP3 utilises the company’s “Dynalast”, which marks a new direction in thinking for performance-oriented lasts. Where once Shimano’s shoes offered pronounced heel lift and a scoop for the toes, Dynalast offers very little of either so as to reduce tension on the forefoot, calf muscles and hamstrings.
A trio of straps is used to secure the shoes. The lower straps use hook-and-loop closures, while the upper strap has a ratchetting buckle. Shimano purposefully offset the closures in order to reduce the amount pressure on the high points of the foot.
The nylon sole of the RP3 rates a six on Shimano’s 12-point scale for stiffness, in keeping with the comfort-oriented focus of the shoe. There is one major vent at the front of the sole and another, longer vent under the midfoot. As for the cleats, buyers have the freedom to use two-bolt MTB cleats or three-bolt road cleats.
Australian buyers will find that sizing for the RP3 is limited to whole sizes 37-52 for men and 36-43 for women. For those that need a little extra room, there is a wide fit option for men sizes 40-52 that adds an extra 5-6% to the volume of the shoe.
For this review, I was sent a pair of standard men’s size 44 shoes, a size that normally suits my feet but I found the RP3 were a little short. Nevertheless, they were immediately comfortable with a toe box that was reasonably roomy and the heel cup was deep and secure.
The straps worked well to fasten the shoes. The buckle was easy to adjust — even while I was on the bike — and it offered meaningful increments in tension. Interestingly, I didn’t suffer any hotspots over the course of a two-hour ride despite the shoes being a little short, which I suspect had a lot to do with how pliable the uppers were.
The soles were reasonably flexible too. Under hand, the majority of this flex occurred at the rear of the shoe while the forefoot remained relatively sturdy. This flex is a nice match for the uppers making for a shoe that is prepared to move with the feet rather than forcing them to remain in one position for extended periods.
Clearly, the RP3 is not for buyers looking for a stiff and efficient shoe. Shimano has other models for this purpose, such as the R171 or R321 from their Road Competition range. Then there is the RP9, which sits at the top of the Road Performance Range, but all of these alternatives are more expensive than the RP3.
All told, the RP3 is a well-priced entry-level shoe that will suit new riders or those making the transition to road shoes. Colour choices are limited to black for men’s sizes and white for women with red as a limited edition colour for men.
For more information, visit Shimano.