- Shimano M120 shoes
Shimano’s M120s bridge the gap between trainer-style recreational shoes and scary race shoes, offering race styling and a stiffer sole without going completely mad with either and at a fairly sensible price. If they were a race category they’d be Sport Men. From the bottom up, we have the sole, a one-piece rubber unit of a reasonably knobbly temperament. There’re no screw-in studs or anything like that.
The midsole is a suitably rigid affair, made apparently of something called Texon which is some species of plastic. Whatever it is it makes for a pretty stiff shoe. Not as stiff as your carbon-reinforced race slipper perhaps but you’re spending a lot less and in this sector a little bit of give is no bad thing.
The upper is a combination of leather and mesh and looks great in silver and black. Yes, they’re silver – these ones look a bit grey but that’s just dirt. Three broad hook-and-loop straps (described as “Velcro style”) hold your foot in. They’re not as adjustable as laces and not as secure as ratchet bindings but they’re less fiddly than either.
In use the M120s perform much as you might expect. They’re adequately stiff – we’ve done some big rides on small pedals in these, guaranteed to lead to sore feet in soft shoes, and not had any problems. As with all shoes of this style, the mesh is a bit breezy and permeable in wet or cold conditions but a generous toe box and the adjustability of the straps means that getting a slightly thicker or waterproof sock in there isn’t out of the question.
A slightly more rigid heel cup would be welcome – it’s quite soft, giving a hint of heel lift if you’re really hauling up on the pedals (or pushing…). And a bit of sole rubber on the heel and toe wouldn’t go amiss to help prevent scuffs from rocks which could eventually lead to failure. But then, these are high-end features that appear on Shimano’s more expensive shoes so we perhaps shouldn’t be too picky.
Positives: Race looks, reasonable price, solid performance
Negatives: Can expose their limits if you’re pushing hard
If you’re looking for an inexpensive race shoe, this isn’t perhaps the shoe for you – you’re compromising some stiffness and security for the lower price. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a bit more performance-oriented than the crop of “leisure” SPD shoes then the M120s are likely to be right up your street.