I’ve used nearly every incarnation of Shimano’s MTB shoes over the past decade, flats and clips alike, it’d be fair to say, I’m a fan. Durable, comfortable, ergonomic but at times almost a little overbuilt, they’ve always delivered the goods. Some I’ve liked more than others, some have had questionable looks and design flaws. So, based on the fact I’ve loved so many of their feet fondlers, the ME7’s have got a hell of a lot to live up to!
The ME7’s are Shimano’s flagship ‘enduro’ shoe which in Shimano’s words, ‘combine the lightweight and pedalling effectiveness of an XC shoe and the durability, grip and armour required by aggressive trail riders. There’s been a brand battle going on for some time now, each trying to trump one another when it comes to providing the best all mountain shoe, providing the on-bike efficiency and the hike-a-bike grip. Shimano may have just stamped a trump card, oooosh!
These shoes use the well established Torbal shank in the sole with a numerical rating of 8 out of 10, rendering it almost as stiff as a stiff thing, but with enough toe flex for on-foot excursions. It helps massively when stomping the cranks, aiding power delivery and reducing pressure points and foot sole fatigue on descents. The Michelin dual density rubber sole with angular lugs has been very well thought through. The grip when walking or climbing on nearly all surfaces is truly sublime, especially when you consider the amount of space taken up by a cleat and its recess. Equally inspiring is the grip offered when you inadvertently miss the ‘click’ and drop in resting on top. Speaking of cleat recesses, the ME7’s are long, I like having the cleats slammed back to spread the load when descending, helping with location and ease of access, however I didn’t need them all way back this time, a rarity but encouraging meaning they’ll cater for extreme set-ups should you require it.
The speed lacing system with gripper buckle and velcro lace-end is brilliant, slip on the shoe, pull laces and slide the gripper buckle down until desired tightness is achieved, stick lace-end to the underside of the ¾ length lace cover which then covers the laces and velcros down itself. It’s not new, the older ME200’s also used this design, but I still love it, so simple yet so very effective, adding protection from impacts and the elements as well as keeping your laces clean.
Whilst discussing retention systems, the ratchet buckle type design is always a bone of contention on any shoe, especially if you need to use the full range of adjustability which can often result in the tail end protruding down the outside of the shoe and getting snagged or bent over several rides. It also means the tail end gets covered in crap which then has to be run through the buckle on removal. Shimano have thought about this and delivered a fantastically straightforward answer - the ratchet strap sits fitted to the side of the shoe and the buckle to the cuff, which you then slide down over the strap and ratchet it down. The result is a very neat and tidy connection with no excess tail on show, so good!
Slipping the ME7 on is like sliding your feet into that old pair of house slippers, you know, the ones you often inadvertently wear to the supermarket because they’re so comfy you forget to take them off. Only with these, they don’t look horrendous and didn’t take 6 months of forcible bedding in to get them to that level of snugness! The toe box on the ME7 is substantially wider than I’ve found on other shoes meaning your toes have space to move and do what toes should do - aid balance and stability. Externally, its got a proper rubber toe bumper with a kevlar covering for abrasion resistance - I smashed my toes into the face of a large rock on a ride recently - pedalling when I shouldn’t have been - and the kevlar wasn’t even marked and most importantly, my toes were still intact, testament to their construction. The heel cup is solid too, you literally feel like you’re wearing an armoured boot that is an extension of your leg. Our size 45 shoes (with Shimano cleats) weighed 940g for the pair, so they're not too heavy either. They do, like nearly every other shoe of similar purpose, allow water through eventually but even with the extra cushioned insole, they’ve never got waterlogged and heavy. They dry remarkably quickly too and with none of the materials used being prone to ‘fluffing’, trail debris and gunk doesn’t get embedded, it simply brushes off when dry.
I have abnormally wide feet (flat and duck like really), yet the ME7’s fit perfectly with none of the arch ache I’ve got with so many other shoes over the years. If anything, and in the name of writing something constructive, the ME7’s are a little warm, but, I’ll take that for the added protection on offer. At £159.99 they’re not cheap either, that said, that’s still a more than a reasonable figure for a range topping shoe with this many well thought out features and construction quality.
I’ve now worn them for everything from hot and dry, to wet and chilly, for dirt jumps in the woods to long days in the saddle and clambering up hills with my bike on my back - the ME7’s have accomplished them all with absolute aplomb.
A self confessed bike geek, Adam has been riding bikes for over two decades and breaking things for nearly as long. With more facial hair than on his head, his appearance is one of a hard paper round! He's friendly, approachable, critical and fair - loves a good stoppie and a turnbar tuesday, real ale and long bikes.