Quality cycling shoes and pedals are synonymous with the Shimano brand, and their current crop of footwear is as good as it’s ever been. The new ME7 shoe is their top end trail/enduro shoe, and has seen a few changes for this year.
The ME7 definitely has some cross-over with the AM9, and the Shimano nomenclature isn’t exactly clear. The AM9 is definitely aimed more at downhill with more padding, whereas the ME7 is more about performance and efficiency.
Changes for this year include a different upper made from a perforated synthetic leather, rather than mesh. This supposedly improves the durability of the shoe while also enhancing breathability.
Shimano also introduced a new fit for 2019 called “Volume+”, which essentially means a larger toe box across the range. This allows a wider range of foot shapes to fit. Also of note is the buckle, which has been slightly slimmed down, to keep it tucked out of harm’s way, plus revised armor for better protection.
Straight away, the shoes feel fairly lightweight for what is a pretty burly shoe. The toe and heel have a significant amount of armor and feel particularly robust, but you wouldn’t know it while wearing them — they feel pretty light on the foot. The new perforated upper also does a surprisingly good job of ventilating the shoe.
Thanks to the long cleat channel, it’s easy to find the pedal, and the shoe maintains a sturdy-feeling connection once clipped in.
Under the lace flap, which helps to keep water out, the shoes have Shimano’s speed-laces and a ratchet buckle. Both are super easy to both fasten and remove, while also really locking you into the shoe without being uncomfortable.
The soles are very stiff, but also have “Torbal” technology which allows the back end to flex a little. All of this adds up to a really positive engagement feel with the pedal, allowing you to put more power down and have good control over the bike. The small neoprene guard around the ankle helps to keep trail debris out of the shoe, and tops off what is a very comfortable, high-performance shoe.
The soles are shod with Michelin rubber which is grippy, and has some pretty significant knobs. Many of the downhill-style SPD shoes still have very flat soles which, while it makes sense for flat-pedal shoes and is nice for walking around on the flat, doesn’t make a lot of sense for SPD shoes in my eyes.
The knobs on the soles make a big difference in traction when off the bike on steep slopes, though they can feel a little awkward on the flat. This is awesome if you’re the type of person who likes to push back up trails to session things, as they do make a big difference.
Coming from downhill-type shoes, these can feel a little different at first — they’re certainly more of a precision instrument. The roomy toe box feels a bit odd, yet the shoe still feels tight, and it will obviously fit more riders.
Personally, I find that there’s a bit of float in the heel section of the shoe, which also feels a little strange. When riding I don’t really notice it, but I would prefer a slightly tighter fit.
The looks are definitely polarizing; you couldn’t get away with wearing them off the bike, and they may not appeal to downhill riders.
Because the shoe is so stiff, I found that I have to dial up the spring tension on my pedals to keep from accidentally unclipping. This is a nice bonus for me, as I find with a lot of the more flexy shoes that it’s difficult to get the spring tension on the pedals somewhere good without being difficult to clip out due to the shoe flexing.
The ME7 does cost a little more than Shimano’s AM9, with an MSRP of $200 USD.
- You’re after a lightweight, stiff shoe, for racing in particular
- You’re a fan of gravity riding but don’t mind pedaling to the top
- You find yourself pushing up trails frequently