Everybody knows Shimano make excellent groupsets. It’s not exactly a secret. It’s pretty much the opposite of a secret, in fact, seeing as you can walk into almost any bike shop and safely bet at least 85 per cent of the bikes they stock will be equipped with Shimano.

But the Japanese company’s shoe range has remained a better-kept secret, and that range has been steadily expanding with the addition this year of four new models to their road line: the RP2, RP3, RP5 and this, the RP9.

The RP in RP9 stands for Road Performance, which, Shimano say, is testament to the fact the RP range aim to bridge the gap between newbies and racers. Basically, for experienced riders looking for performance in a shoe but not necessarily with racing in mind. That’s why you’ll still find the R321 shoes sitting at the top of the tree: the RP range has come to complement – not replace – existing models.

RCUK100 - Shimano RP9 road shoes, ratchet lock

RCUK100 - Shimano RP9 road shoes

RCUK100 - Shimano RP9 road shoes, ratchet lock

RCUK100 - Shimano RP9 road shoes

RCUK100 - Shimano RP9 road shoes

RCUK100 - Shimano RP9 road shoes, sole

RCUK100 - Shimano RP9 road shoes

RCUK100 - Shimano RP9 road shoes, sole

The shoes score a 12 on Shimano's stiffness scale, which means they're stiff enough for all but the Kittel-thighed among us

That’s not to say there aren’t crossovers, though, as the aesthetic of the RP9s has been so evidently influenced by the R321s that you could be forgiven for thinking they’re simply a monotone version. But that’s not the case.

One big thing they have in common with the R321s is mouldability. Both the insoles and uppers of the RP9s are heat-mouldable, although not at home in the oven as with some other manufacturers. With Shimano’s process, the shoes are heated to the correct temperature, you put them on, and then you put your foot into a vacuum bag which basically ‘sucks’ the shoe onto your foot meaning the fit should match the contours of your feet almost exactly. But yeah, it’s not something you can easily do in your living room, that’s for sure.

The RP9s also use a cross-weave carbon sole which Shimano have given an 11/12 on their stiffness scale (a scale which runs from 5 to 13, by the way) meaning they’re stiff enough for everyone but the Kittel-thighed among us. And as if to prove our point, Marcel Kittel rode in the R321s last year, albeit not that much due to injury.

Looks-wise, Shimano have gone classic. There are two colourways – all black and all white – and the synthetic uppers have a subtle honeycomb-esque texture to go along with the matt finish, giving them a pleasing and clean look. Keep your eyes open for these in 2016, they’ll be big.