When it comes to clipless cycling footwear and pedals, Shimano has been setting the benchmark for over 25 years – developing some of the best shoes and pedals throughout modern cycling history. With this longstanding track record, it makes complete sense that the recent introduction of their XM7 Cross Mountain shoe would almost certainly be a home run. In order to put these outwardly rugged kicks to the test, my lady Donna and I opted to wear these on our thru-bike mission to ride all 539 miles of the Colorado Trail this summer. Spending two weeks on the CT will definitely put any piece of gear you take through its paces with craggy alpine terrain, high and low temperature swings, looming afternoon storms and enough hike a bike sections to shake a stick at; a really big stick.
Arriving at our door a couple of weeks before our trip, we immediately started breaking our shoes in by walking around in them for a day without any cleats installed. This proved to be an excellent way to feel how the shoes would hike as well as seeing where the shoe could possibly cause any foot issues, such as blisters or hot spots that may arise as with any new stiff soled hikers I’ve worn over the years.
First impressions can make or break a shoe and so far these were making all the right moves to keep my feet and state of mind happy. No pressure points or slipping spots to report right out of the box.
The construction of the XM7 further continued to impress with a list of dependable features including a burly Vibram sole for hiking in rough terrain, natural nubuck leather uppers with a rubber reinforced toe box to protect your digits, a field serviceable lacing enclosure with Velcro ankle strap for added support, reflective accents to be seen on the road, and a waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex layer to keep your dogs happy when the conditions turn south.
After becoming acquainted with how these shoes would feel while hiking about, we installed our SPD cleats and gave them a handful of rides on our local trails to seal the deal that these shoes were going to fit the bill, and then some.
To keep the XM7’s in the high performance cycling shoe class, Shimano developed a flexible half-length shank plate allowing the shoe to remain stiff and responsive while clipped into a pedal interface, but also provide walkability unseen in many cycling shoes on the market. I can honestly say that these shoes have been chosen for any and every ride I’ve gone on since first wearing them, solely based on the versatility factor they bring to the table. Not to mention, the visual look of the XM7’s resembles that of a tough mountain faring explorer, rather than appearing as though you just arrived to the brewery or grocery store wearing your favorite wooden clogs from that trip you took to Europe.
Long term use.
Without having an odometer on these shoes, an exact mileage would be difficult to furnish; however, I’d estimate mine have seen nearly 800 miles and over 80,000 ft. of combined pushing and pedaling up and down the rough terrain that the Rocky Mountains play host to. With typical wear on the lugs of the soles, the only spot on both mine and Donna’s shoes to report any issues with was in the toe region. The rubber around the toe box and wrapping up from the toe lugs started to slightly delaminate at the very edge; which, to be honest, I’m not sure any shoe on the market would not do this after repeatedly lunging forward with exhausted steps on this type of terrain.
Some of you may also be wondering how the Gore-Tex layer performed in fluctuating temperatures and changing weather conditions. With a mid-weight merino wool sock, my feet stayed pretty well regulated as far as temperatures go. When cold, the shoes were heavy enough to warm my feet up with some movement early in the morning hours, while the breathable membrane allowed just enough ventilation to keep my feet from overheating when the afternoon temps ramped up. The occasional slip of an unstable rock in a stream crossing inevitably filled the low-cut shoe with water, but draining and drying in the low humidity climate of Colorado was never an issue for either of us. Most impressively, on our 539 mile journey across the CT, neither Donna or I can report that a single hot spot or blister was formed, which is a claim few can make after spending two weeks straight in the same pair of hiking or cycling shoes.
The bottom line; If you’re looking for a do it all, tough-as-nails, killer looking pair of hiking friendly cycling shoes, you can stop your search here and now, because the holy grail has been discovered.
Size notes: I typically wear a US Men’s 8.5 and chose the EU 42’s which Shimano equates to a US Men’s 8.3. Follow? These shoes have a little bit of a roomier last than some of their competition minded models, so a US 8.3 fits me exactly how a typical 8.5 would fit.
Worn in Weight: 488g/ea. with cleats installed, 976g/pr.
Shimano Flex Rating: 3/10, which is why this shoe is well adept for on and off the bike jaunts with a lot of hiking.
US MSRP: $199
Check out our journal along the Colorado Trail this year ct-journal.weebly.com