It’s no secret that our Japanese mates in blue make some sharp gear. With all that shifting and braking bling everywhere you look, its not surprising that their footwear gets a little overlooked. But Shimano make great shoes...
The original XC7 shoe has for the last few years been a very popular model for racers and weekenders alike, but Shimano aren’t ones to rest on their laurels. I argue that it had plenty of room for improvement, and someone must have been listening. This latest model, dubbed the “XC701” (sexy naming, I know) builds on what the original had, but has done away with several things that needed to go.
From the minute you pick the shoe of the box, you can’t help but notice the material used on the upper of the shoe. The shiny plastic-like upper is now gone and replaced by a matte leather with subtle graphics that oozes class. Given time, that leather upper will shape nicely to your foot and give you a glove-like fit. Another notable change is the move to a refined double BOA closure system, doing away with the toe box strap.
Still featuring the same carbon fibre sole and Michelin rubber with room to attach toe studs, the shoe still feels and rides like the older model, which is uber-stiff, rigid and screaming ‘race!’. There is no hiding that this shoe is targeted at the serious XC mountain bike racer, but for the old school trail riders out there who like a tight-fitting, stiff shoe, then this would suit the bill well. But the shoe won’t suit all riders. The stiffness is at a level where long, aggressive descending could get uncomfortable. Over the course of an XC race and maybe even a gravel ride, then it would be perfect, but for the likes of enduro I would search for a shoe with a roomier fit and a more compliant sole.
At $299, they aren’t cheap but not are they going to break the bank and if previous models are anything to go by, these will offer years of service. So, if you’re looking for an efficient race shoe or you’re a trail rider with a preference for stiff shoes, make sure these are on your list.
Words: Cam Baker