Stretchy cuff keeps debris out, superb sole grip, flexible fit; best for enduro riding
Not available smaller than 38; heavy when compared to direct competitors
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A synthetic leather shoe with a neoprene cuff and zonal lacing, the Shimano SH-ME7 shoes offer exceptional fit and control, and when the going gets rough, Michelin rubber on the sole grips in the most heinously slippery conditions. The ME7s fit a wide variety of feet, and when it’s time to walk, they stick. But most importantly, these shoes feel great riding. They aren’t too stiff or too flexy, they feel natural, and support in whatever kind of terrain you’re tackling.
The Shimano SH-ME7 is constructed with a perforated synthetic leather outer material that laces shut with a toe-to-midfoot pull cord. The pull cord has a Velcro tab on the end that sticks to the back side of a Velcro-closure lace flap. The lower lacing let me tighten the forefoot of the shoe without clamping it down. I could set it and forget it. A ratcheting buckle tightened a nearly-two-inch wide flap at the top of the shoe to lock my foot into the shoe near the ankle. Even when the buckle had been bashed, scratched, and marred from use, it never snapped off, stuck, or otherwise failed.
A stretch neoprene ankle collar keeps pebbles, rocks, leaves, and other trail detritus out. And the neoprene at the top of the tongue feels soft on the front of the ankle, and doesn’t require any break-in. The ankle is padded, and when I tried to squeeze through a rock gap that was just a little too tight, I didn’t bruise or scrape my ankle. Armoring on the toe and heel protects the shoes form getting cut or scuffed by sharp rocks, and lots of use.
Most clipless mountain bike shoes aren’t made for walking, but the ME7 shoes are and Shimano designed them as such without compromising pedaling efficiency. When I rode places where there was no trail, or the trail served up features that pushed the limits of my comfort zone, I sometimes found myself walking while carrying my bike.
The dual-density Michelin rubber on the soles doesn’t slip, even on sweaty, slimy rocks. The ME7 straddles the line between stiff enough, and not too stiff. They’re efficient for pedaling, but not awkward for walking. Standing on the pedals, they’re supportive and they allow me to articulate my body as the terrain requires. Shimano’s Torbal midsole delivers what the name promises — torsional balance. In plain English, that just means side-to-side stability and control.
The cleat port is positioned to give riders the flexibility to adjust cleats in a rearward setting, or directly under-the ball of the foot. The ME7 shoes arrived with stickers that fit under the shoe insole and over the cleats to keep water from getting in through the cleat channels. It’s a system Shimano has used for years, and amazingly, the company hasn’t come up with a more user-friendly system. The benefit is that if you strip the cleat plate, you can replace it without tearing your shoe apart. Other brands seal the cleat plate into the shoe under the insole. It works, but it’s old-school.
I have wide feet, and often my mountain bike shoes need a break-in period, but because of the flexible lacing, the ME7 shoes did not. And they may still fit riders with narrow feet. The ratcheting buckle is easy to micro-adjust during a ride. And one of the things I appreciate most about this shoe is that I could get a snug and supportive fit without over-tightening them. The Shimano SH-ME7 shoes are available in half sizes for 38-47, and full sizes only for 48, 49, and 50.
These are my go-to shoes for enduro riding. I just wish the Shimano ME7 came in a few more sizes. I ask a lot of my mountain bike shoes: I wear them most days, April through October, for epic rides, exploratory scouting missions, after-work laps, shuttle runs, bike park laps, and when I travel to ride. These shoes, with a synthetic leather upper, neoprene cuff, and Michelin-rubber sole are hands-down the most comfortable clipless shoes I’ve worn riding, and the most grippy for walking.