The Shimano ME7 shoes received a glowing report when we tested them last year, since then they have been updated and are as good as they ever were. 2019 sees the shoes get a wider last and a sealed cleat area, keeping them in the top spot as one of our favourite enduro and all-mountain shoes.
The Shimano ME7 shoe is the brand's ‘mountain enduro’ shoe (no prizes for where the name came from), which similarly to last year's shoe sees Shimano aim to combine the lightweight feel and good pedalling efficiency of a cross-country shoe with the durability, grip and build of an aggressive trail shoe.
The ME7s are suitably tough, the upper is rigid without being so stiff they are uncomfortable to put on or to spend long hours in. New for 2019 sees the ME7’s get a tad wider than shoes of old, the type of last used is Shimano’s Volume+ last which is described as working well with a wider range of feet. Whilst I found the width of these shoes roomier than previous Shimano shoes the length still comes out smaller than other brands. I’m usually a size 38 but wore a size 39 with ease, so if you are between sizes I would advise that you size up.
The sole uses the same Torbal shank as the last iteration of these shoes which scores a numerical rating of 8 out a possible 12 which means they are stiff but not super stiff. For comparison, the brands top flight cross-county shoes (XC9's) score an 11 whilst the GR7 flat shoes are down at a 3 for stiffness. Torbal stands for Torsional Balance meaning the heel section of the shoe allows some lateral movement whilst the part of the sole near the cleat offers less movement and optimises pedalling efficiency. There is enough flex in the shoes and sole to make hike-a-biking easy whilst the ME7’s still offer a good deal of efficiency when you want to get on the cranks.
This combined with tacky and chunky, well placed Michelin rubber along the length of the sole guarantees good grip wherever you happen to be treading. Staying with the sole, the cleat adjustment range is large and this year Shimano have sealed the cleat area so you won’t be subjected to moisture seeping up through the sole.
Shimano have kept the tried and tested closure sytem of the ME7’s much to my delight, the speed lacing and reverse mount buckles stays making putting on the shoes a speedy affair. Simply pull the lace loop taught, slide the gripper buckle down and feel the shoe tighten evenly over the top of the foot and then stick lace-end to the underside of the lace cover. This cover then Velcro's down to hides the laces, keeping them clean and out of harms way.
The ratchet buckle on ME7’s is reversed compared to other similar products, so, rather than being left with a protruding strap pointing towards the floor, the strap folds neatly over the top of the foot as the buckle slides down over the top. It’s a low profile and neat design, keeping the whole affair clean too, protecting the buckle from passing mud and trail debris through it.
Wearing the Shimano ME7’s is like slipping on a pair of well worn leather shoes, flexible yet stiff, they conform to the feet and are supremely comfortable for all day missions and racing short or long enduro’s. The ME7 are wider than other shoes I have on test at this time (Giro Chamber II’s being one such pair) and will suit riders with wider flippers than those with slim, narrow feet.
The brand has done away with the mesh toe covering, making the shoe more weatherproof and supposedly improving ventilation and durability from new perforated upper design, I still found the shoe rather warm but it's not insurmountable and I still pull them off the shelf mid-summer as well as on cooler days. The neoprene collar is unobtrusive and prevents dirt, stones, loam and other small trail debris from making its way into your shoe and under your foot, it’s a worthwhile addition.
With all the extra features on offer you’d think that the shoes might turn out to be quite heavy but at 818g for a pair of size 39’s they don’t do too badly at all, for reference my pair of Scott MTB AR Boa Clip shoes are 944g and the Giro Chamber II’s I mentioned earlier weigh in at 873g (both size 38).
At £170, the price of the ME7’s has risen by a tenner compared to last years shoes but with the inclusion of the sealed cleat and improvements to the fit for a wider range of foot sizes this could be cash well spent. It’s still not cheap though, the closest rival being the Giro Terraduro Mid shoes at £160. If you are looking for one shoe to fit the bill for all your riding activities, the ME7’s could well be the one. They won’t look out of place on a cross-country 'esque trail ride and will be equally at home at a gravity fed race, plus they are likely to last a lifetime too.
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