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.
shimano xm7
shimano mx7
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.
shimano mx7
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.
shimano mx7
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

9 Comments

  1. I’m a wide-footer – any insight for me on these?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Steve,

      I have a mid-wide foot, definitely not narrow but I wouldn’t say wide. These shoes have a slightly wider toe-box which fit me comfortably – more so than the M200’s I’m used to trail riding in (which have a more narrow last). End all best way to find out would be to see if a local shop has some to try on. Hope this helps!

  2. I bought a pair of these when they came out and have put over 2000 miles and more than 180,000 feet of climbing on them in the past year. They’re a good pedaling platform and they saved my feet during TNGA back in August where I put A LOT of hike-a-bike on them. Living in the South East, I don’t care for the Gore-Tex. Water gets in plenty easy during water crossings then pools inside with nowhere to go. With all of the humidity in the Summer months that water just sloshes around forever. I’d love to see a version of this shoe with vents for faster draining and no Gore-Tex. Great shoes though – and still going strong.

  3. I own the predecessor of this shoe, the MT71. The advice I could find regarding fitting wide feet at the time of purchase was to size up. I’m usually a 44 E width, so purchased a 45 (standard width), and find them very comfortable. They have a roomy toe box which is good for short hikes, especially with a wide foot. I also find these comfortable for long days in the saddle. I’ve done probably 3500-4000km in mine. I took no other footwear for a 10day Australian (Simpson) Desert ride last year so wore them for 16hrs/day, including hiking dunes as well as around camp. With a good wash, they still look like new.

  4. I’ve used the XM9, the higher cut version of the above, to cycle from London to Belgrade over the last 8 months and 9000+ kms. The majority of the terrain has been tarmac and gravel/dirt road although there’s been an amount of off road as well. They’ve been worn almost every day and from snow to 35 degrees Celsius, taken on day to day chores, camp duty, some hiking and sightseeing. They’re a bit warm at 30+ degrees but manageable. Fine down around zero. I’ve experienced similar delamination as above, although only slight. And they do occasionally let water in when not submerged. Otherwise, they have been incredible and I’m very pleased with them (as context my girlfriend used some cheaper Shiamano touring shoes that lasted only 6 months before disintegration)

  5. I plunked down the $ on a pair of these when they first came out (probably the most I ever spent on a pair of footwear), and have no regrets. I live in the desert, and finally have shoes that keep my feet warm on our winter nights, and really aren’t too bad in the summer heat. They are rugged and have stood up to the cacti and sharp rocks. Solid piece of equipment…

  6. Hello could you possibly let me know whether you think these would be comfortable enough to walk in for several days at a time? I’m trying to work out if these are the right shoe to replace having to take both spds and walking shoes for a 6-8 month tour next year where I want to be able to leave my bike and do little walking trips into the mountains every now and again. Thank you in advance

  7. Kevin Townsend

    I have 2 pairs of Shimano M-089 wide fit in size 49 (US13). It is a shame Shimano doesn’t make the XM-9 in a 49. I think there is a reasonable number of bikers like me who miss out when sizes stop at 48!

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