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Shimano XC5 MTB shoes review

28 Nov 2017

Shoes that will keep you exploring all day long, on and off-road

Cyclist Rating: 
Supremely comfortable shoes, vintage lace-up look
Honestly, I can't think of any

I have been spending a lot of time on a cyclocross bike recently and, whisper it quietly, I'm actually not missing the road bike just yet.

The muddy bridleways and gravel paths of Kent offer me something different come winter, and are just more appealing than riding the same old paved roads that made up most of my summer.

I truly have caught the bug for the rough stuff and I'm not ready to go back, or not yet at least.

With all this 'cross riding, I have switched from my usual carbon-soled road shoes over to a more sturdy off-road pair, namely the new Shimano XC5 MTB shoes.

The Japanese mega-brand's latest dabble into the shoe market claims to be a pair of shoes perfect for exploring mixed terrain whilst also looking classically cool, so a few big rides in the Kent wilderness are the perfect way to put those claims to the test.

All day long

The cyclocross racing scene is confined to an hour, but most amateur 'cross riding, from my experience, entails hours of getting wonderfully lost on leafy bridleways usually reserved for ramblers rather than bike riders.

These countless hours usually see me getting on and off the bike, jumping logs I'm no where near skilled enough to bunny-hop, climbing over fences designed to keep mopeds out and climbing up steep muddy banks.

It takes a lot for a pair of shoes to remain comfortable across all these challenges, but the Shimano XC5 MTBs passed the test with flying colours.

By the end of my first ride, I had almost completely forgotten about them, which is rare for a new set of clogs. No pinching, no aches, no pains, the shoes had felt like an old pair of slippers that I had found buried deep in a cupboard.

This comfort, in large part, was down to two things for me: the mixed-material sole and soft synthetic leather upper.

The mixture of Michelin rubber and carbon fibre in the sole was largely forgiving after a long days riding, and failed to cause pressure on my feet like more race-oriented shoes.

Although this does mean the XC5 lacks in terms of performance, it's worth remembering these shoes were not designed with pure performance in mind. That said, at no point was I left cursing at the lack of power transfer reaching my pedals.

When walking in the shoes, which I did a lot of, the plentiful tread gave a stable footing and prevented me from a 'Bambi on ice' moment both in the mud and in the cafe.

The soft 'fake-leather' upper was breathable, and did a good job at keeping the cold and wet out yet still allowed my feet to breathe on what was a particularly humid November day thanks to its perforation.

Classically cool

Most MTB shoes can often look bulky and uncool due to the purpose they are serving but with the XC5, Shimano has managed to avoid this problem.

By opting for laces, Shimano has made a cool shoe that has the vintage style of a classic pair of football boots, like the Puma and Adidas boots infamously worn by Pele and Franz Beckenbauer half a century ago.

The laces keep the shoe looking slim and sleek, which makes for a more attractive look than velcro or buckles, and in all honesty just give the shoes a talking point that so many rivals lack.

If the orange laces are not to your taste, Shimano provides a spare pair in grey but, personally, I say stick with the orange because there's nothing wrong with a bit of colour.

With so much in the cycling world geared purely towards performance, sometimes it's just nice to ride in something that is both comfortable and looks cool.

The XC5 shoes tick both of these boxes and have quickly become an indispensable piece of kit for me.

They won't replace my road shoes, but there will be days when I want to take it easy and look cool on my spin to get a coffee with my mates and on those days the Shimano XC5's will get their call-up every time.

Buy the Shimano XC5 MTB shoes from Chain Reaction Cycles here