The Shimano MW7 boots are the new incarnation of the popular MW5. These new SPD trail boots use Gore-Tex, are waterproof, warm and are super comfortable with performance akin to the fairer weather ME7 option. We found in the very wet they did get slightly damp inside though.
Shimano says the MW7s are built for ‘riders without an off-season’. With performance and looks akin to the all mountain/trail/enduro shoe the ME7 they are certainly a good option to keep you riding hard with dry (well, relatively, but I’ll get to that), warm feet throughout the winter months, something the Gore-Tex 'Insulated Comfort' liner sees too.
As per the ME7, the MW7’s are a tough pair of shoes with a pretty rigid toe and heel cups to protect the feet in more rock or root strewn terrain. The upper conforms well to the foot, it's supportive without being super rigid and it’s all reflective too if you plan on using these in the dark or on a commute.
The MW7’s have a high cuff that helps shield the rider from the wet, it also prevents dirt and mud running down into the boot. I mainly wore these boots with Madison waterproof trousers where this high cuff helps to seal you in against the elements.
The shoes fasten in a similar fashion to the ME7’s but the MW7’s use a Boa dial to tighten the thin wires securing the foot, these wires are then covered with a Velcro's flap to hide the laces, keeping them clean and out of harm's way. Up top, the cuff is also fastened by Velcro, the whole lot is secure and easy to live with, the fastening systems are well positioned to prevent any pressure build up too.
Inside the shoe is a GORE-TEX® Insulated Comfort liner and a fleece footbed for added warmth. The GORE-TEX liner surrounds the whole foot, effectively sealing the shoe from rain and ground spray. The shoes do a great job of keeping heat in, having ridden in these in the cold, my feet have stayed warm throughout rides where I would normally expect them to be cold and perhaps numb. In contrast, I’ve also worn them in more temperate conditions and sweated!
The sole uses a Torbal shank as the last iteration of these shoes which scores a numerical rating of 5 out a possible 12 meaning a middling stiffness rating. More flexible than the ME7’s (rating of 8), the extra stiffness wasn’t something I missed, the boots provide a good platform for pedalling and it’s not like you’ll be racing in them anyway. The outer sole uses Michelin rubber along the length of the sole, the chunky pattern guarantees good grip wherever you are walking or whatever you are walking over.
With regards to their waterproofness, I have mixed reports for the MW7’s. For the initial part of testing they did keep my feet dry and I was raving about them! I rode in the rain, I rode through plenty of puddles and hiked in lots of mud all with dry feet.
Prior to writing the review I wore the shoes on a 3-hour ride in the torrential rain and found the shoes breached after 2 hours. I was wearing waterproof trousers at the time so can be pretty sure the water didn't run down my leg and enter the boot. My socks were dry at the upper cuff and wet from the ankle down, the water appears to have either entered the shoe where the neoprene cuff meets the shoe and the Gore-Tex liner and consequentially made my socks damp. The alternative explanation is that with the shoes saturated the Gore-Tex liner no longer efficiently wicked sweat leaving me with damp feet.
"the entire of the inside of the shoe is a sealed Gore-Tex membrane, so no water should be able to come through from the top or the bottom. Take out the insole and you can see that the Gore-Tex lining covers the cleat interface as well. If your socks come up above the collar, though, that’ll help water soak down. Plus your feet will sweat in those shoes due to the fact that the environment inside is essentially sealed."
As I said previously, for the majority of the test period the MW7's kept my feet warm and dry, they are still some of the best performing winter shoes I've ridden in. And let's face it when cycling in the rain do we really expect to stay dry even in £190 worth of shoes? My answer is no, in my experience the activity and the elements overcome the kit eventually in some way. The last note on this point is this, the shoes took a couple of days to dry out…..
The MW7’s are a very comfortable boot, they keep the feet warm and dry in all but the very worst conditions and even in the extreme wet they take a while to breach. I was disappointed that I did experience wet feet with these shoes but my guess is that you’d have to be riding in some pretty gross conditions, as I was, to experience the same. These are a good winter boot that looks like a trail shoe where many other shoes available at this time have either a ‘hiking boot’ look or a cross-country theme. I guess this is the MW7’s trump card, they look great and perform mostly ok, you still might get damp feet but you won’t get cold.
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