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Shimano SH-M161 shoes - review

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Well-priced and offering impressive performance, Shimano’s updated M161 shoes are a good pick.

The updated M161 shoes are a startlingly good shoe ideal for trail riders

Shimano’s M161 shoes were released last year, replacing the old 160′s with a feature-packed shoe costing just under a hundred notes. We’ve been testing them for a couple of months, and here’s how we’ve been getting on.

Firstly, yes there is no getting away from the bold zebra-stripe pattern adorning the shoes and they certainly draw attention out on the trail. Love them or hate them, they’ve added a new style direction to the company’s Mountain Performance range and, I’m going to stick my neck out and say I really like them. There, I said it.

The shoes themselves get several key updates over those they replaced. Firstly the synthetic leather upper features a new low-profile armour to avoid them getting easily scuffed up. They’re quite a tough pair of shoes, we’ve been doing our best to try and give them a hard time but they just keep shrugging their shoulders and asking for more. So far, so good.

Fit has been improved. A micro-adjust buckle has now been added, along with two off-set straps – extra long so you can cut them down to suit – which together hold the shoes securely in place, with little slippage or heel lift while pedalling.

While shoe fit is very much a personal matter, I found these shoes comfortable; wider than other brands and the small degree of flex in the mid-sole will appeal to those who are put off by the ultra-stiff race shoes at the top-end – and importantly, pedalling performance isn’t sacrificed. I happily wear them for most of my trail rides and even used them during the TransWales stage race, where they adequately proved themselves more than capable.

The tread is grippy enough for all but the slimiest trails where you’re forced to hike-a-bike, and the built-in toe studs really go a long way to helping when you’re forced off your bike due to poor trail conditions. Replaceable composite spikes at the front also help when off the bike.

They’ve been a hit here at Bikemagic because they’re much more comfortable than race-ready stiff shoes without a massive loss of pedal efficiency normally associated with less performance-orientated shoes, making them ideal for most trail users wanting a reasonably stiff and comfortable shoe. They’re a little heavy, but that’s only really noticeable when directly compared to a £300 shoe.

Verdict

The updated M161 shoes are a startlingly good shoe ideal for trail riders, all-day riders and even racers, for under £100. If you can live with the bold look, they’re a great trail shoe and more comfortable than those costing twice as much.

  1. Limey

    I have some of these – been wearing them a couple of times a week now for almost a year now and think they’re really good. The stormtroopery/zerba look dies down after a couple of decent rides and they work well with small, trail or caged spds

    The soles ripped slightly from the upper pretty quickly after I got them and the velcro straps seem to like to curl up after wet rides , but overall they’re great.

    They are a wide fit but the strap has 2 positions so can cater for skinnier feet too. I just added Specialized footbeds to them and they’re even more comfortable.

    I’d recommend them.

  2. sibbo

    i have had some of these for over a year fantastic comfortable summer gear big thumbs up

  3. anth

    I have a pair, excellent shoe, been using for well over a year.
    They have now been replaced by the M162 (a friend has them – the zebra element has been toned down slightly), these look a little more rugged.
    The M161′s can now be found as xc50′s (and the more expensive xc60′s) with some slight changes to the accent colours.
    Seems Mr Arthur has been a little slow reviewing these! ;)

  4. spice

    Been using mine for a year, and whilst very good they are on their way out.
    The mesh venting around the toe box is tearing, leaving a gaping hole around the toe area, and they’ve both had a solid crease at the end of the toe since i started wearing them, which i havnt been able to remove.

    All in all, still a great shoe considering comfort, looks, and price!

  5. James

    Worn mine for nearly two years now and they’re still going strong. Very tough and rigid pair of shoes. Comfortable too. Downsides are they are pretty heavy and have started to smell like a dead cat (been wet too often!). Excellent value though and would buy them again.

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