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