The £100 price range is a popular one for Shimano, it’s about the upper limit of what most people realistically want to spend on a pair of shoes, and the company has recognised this with three brand new models sharing a £99.99 price tag.
Aside from sharing the same price tag, the shoes are aimed at very different customers, in a move that follows the split of the XT and XTR groupsets into trail and race, the shoes are tailored for the specific demands of the two groups.
The XC50 (above) is the race version, and follows fairly standard design rules with a stiff multi-density reinforced polymide sole with optional studs and a lightweight and well ventilated upper. A low-profile micro-adjust buckle works alongside two Velcro straps.
For, shall we say burlier riding; the M162 (above) could be considered the perfect partner to your ‘all-mountain’ bike with a tough and aggressively designed shoe. It’s halfway between a shoe and boot, with a raised ankle section to provide a little extra protection to the ankle.
To ward off the knocks and scrapes that generally occur when your riding takes on a more adventures slant, the toe box and the sides feature reinforced sections, sort of like small bumpers to give the shoes extra defence against rocks and roots.
Underneath it’s got a multi-function durable rubber outsole reinforced with a polymide shank plate, so it’s still stiff but not so much that hiking the bike up the hill is a painful and uncomfortable experience.
The shoe that arguably got us most excited, when Shimano brand manager Mark Greshon showed it to us, is XC50N. It’s based on the XC50 but the N stands for Nordic, and that means it’s been winterised. The mesh panels of the XC50 have been replaced with a sealed synthetic leather upper so while it won’t provide complete protection in the wet, we can see it keeping your feet dry a lot longer than typical designed-in-the-summer race shoes.
For full winter riding when you know you’ll be trudging through hub deep puddles, Shimano’s redesigned winter boot, the MW81, is the only answer. Unlike other winter boots, Shimano use a Gore-Tex insulated liner and the fleece lining and insulated inner sole should not only ensure your feet remain dry, but warm too, necessitating the need for thick winter socks.