Ten plus hours of wet, but mostly warm, day and night woodland riding in the
UK. Clearly it’s too early to give them a thumbs-up for uber-longevity so we’ll stick to talking about performance.
The rather plain looking two-part, nylon-fibre sole is anatomically pre-shaped to a walking motion. When you walk the sole doesn’t bend at all, you roll over the sole from back to front. These are not shoes you’d want to suffer a long walk in. While the sole is plenty stiff enough for competition use, you may find it a little uncompromising on a six hour plus epic.
Grip comes courtesy of four moulded studs under the heal and two screw-in metal ones beneath the toe. All studs are conical in shape and so shrug off all but the stickiest clay-based mud. And we found no grip problems in the durge that is autumn woods riding in the UK. The front studs allow plenty of grip for short sprints while the cluster at the rear keeps you firmly planted. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to use them in drier (who are we trying to kid?) conditions over the next few months. But all the signs indicate good grip, wet or dry.
Shimano’s trademark twin-slot SPD mounting nestles between moulded nylon ridges which keep the cleat clear of the ground when walking. While the forward studs give great purchase in the muck they do ground out on anything harder than warm Brie.
The upper is made of two main parts: polyurethane-coated leather panels and a reinforced nylon mesh. The leather panels sit around the bottom of the upper-shoe, the tongue cavity and the make up the tongue itself. The side-panels anchor the triple velcro-fastening system and are double stitched throughout. The nylon mesh itself allows plenty of air and water into to the shoe to keep things cool. This ventilation is welcome when temperatures are up, but go through a puddle and winter water slaps your feet like they’re bare. Definitely a case for waterproof socks or overshoes if you’re going to venture up onto the moors wearing these in winter.
The cut of the M-152’s is narrow, more European than the usual stub-toed UK foot shape. We’d advise you to make length the main priority when buying as the toe box does give a bit with use. The stiff sole does not give with use so if the shoe is too long you’ll find your heel lifting a bit on the upstroke. The inside of the heel area and the underside of the tongue have a foam layer which makes the shoe feel very luxurious when you put it on and prevents chaffing on the move. The insole is annatomically shaped and fits the foot very comfortably indeed.
The simple lace-free, triple velcro fasteners clamp down hard onto your foot, and they need to when you’ve got a sole as stiff as the one here. The velcro is fairly heavy duty. But, like all velcro, it is susceptible to mud. The bottom edges of the velcro on our test pair proudly sports a bit more clag every time we ride. This needs cleaning out every time you clean the shoes (what do you mean you never clean your shoes?) if you want to keep the crisp-when-new performance. Overall the fastening is excellent and the double-stitched build is as good as any of the shoes we’ve used.
Verdict: It’s hard to see how Shimano can make a profit on these shoes. Yes, they are £85 and that’s a lot of money. But these are proper competition shoes which anywhere else will cost you £100 plus. And that’s a key point: “competition shoes”. The sole is mightily stiff, they let water straight in and your foot, once clamped can’t move for toffee. If you need a pair of shoes you can wear all day, on and off the bike then look elsewhere. But if you want high performance shoes the M-152’s: look good, are well built, work well, etc. all for under a ton.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the velcro though…