Shimano SH-XC50N All Season Racing Shoe: Get Intense Without Vents

I was afraid these shoes arrived too late for a review; out here in Wisconsin we got a mercifully mild winter and there was a 2-week spell of 70s and 80s that made me want to pack up all my cold weather gear. I should have known better, the midwest climate can be a cruel mistress.

Shimano cycling shoes have been my go-to since I got into the bike industry. I bought my first pair just before Interbike, the annual Las Vegas orgy of a trade show that gets gear junkies all atwitter. The hook was set after I got a second free pair when Shimano invited me to Irvine, CA to ride the newest version of their XTR group in the Laguna Hills. I brought my shoes with (gasp) Crank Brothers cleats on them. Well, how better to experience the glory of XTR pedals than with a brand spanking new pair of shoes with SPD cleats? Sign me up!

Today I submit for your consideration: The Shimano SH-XC50N All-Season Off-Road Racing Performance Shoe. A claimed 681g for a pair of size 40s and ready for just about anything. These kicks feature a synthetic leather upper that is free of venting and does a fine job of keeping your feet warm and dry during those early spring training rides. When a bootie is too much but the summer shoes are a little too breezy, these fit the bill perfectly. The glass fiber-filled polyamid sole is plenty stiff for efficient power transfer and the multi-density lugs grip rock and soft dirt equally well. There are threaded receivers for optional toe spikes as well.

Hello down there

I like black cycling gear. The trends come and go so quickly that this year’s bitchin’ bibs will be next season’s shop rag because it clashes with everything in your closet. No argyle, no neons, no tribal-tattoo-flesh-colored-arm warmers (these are real, and real sad) for me — I’ll stick to black, white, red and gray whenever possible. That’s why I love the look of these kicks. Plus they won’t show dirt as much, and I’ve got Big Plans that involve getting dirty in pursuit of singletrack glory.

My shakedown, break-in ride was a little 80-miler mostly on gravel to train for the upcoming Gravel Metric ride. I did the ridelast year and the varying conditions during the ride will put these shoes to the test. For this test ride it was in the 30s when I started out; my clothing choice reflected my desire to be prepared for changing weather. I had anAHTBM kit, fleecy arm and leg warmers, a wind vest, and the stellar Pearl Izumi ELITE Barrier jacket. The forecast called for temps to get up into the mid 50s which can be tough to dress for. Summer shoes and booties would be warm for the first part of the ride, but if it got too hot for the covers I’d be stuck carrying them in a pocket which is just lame. The Goldilocks ‘just right’ quality of these shoes was immediately apparent. And they look dead sexy if you’re asking me.

One thing I think would be a benefit is a higher ankle to keep out the muck. Aside from that these have treated me and my toes exceptionally well during my chilly springtime “no more winter blubber” rides.

My favorite features of Shimano shoes are all here: a stiff sole with grippy lugs; a three strap closure with two Velcro and one ratcheting; and handsome styling with a classic, subdued look. Soif you live in a climate like mine, the Shimano SH-XC50N shoes will come in handy during those long transition seasons we seem to suffer through twice a year. Yes, whine whine whine. Still, I can’t complain too much since the trees are finally blooming, the dirt is tacky, and there are miles to devour.

Thanks to the folks at Shimano for providing these shoes for review.