Shimano’s latest top-end cross-country shoes definitely makes you look and feel faster. We reckon that the metallic blue finish, while being a little out there, is pretty damn cool and it certainly helps draw attention to the fact that these are an absolutely awesome pair of shoes.
We’ve been running these guys for almost four months now. When we first picked them up, we made sure to take advantage of the Custom Fit system; the shoes and insoles are heated in a special oven by a qualified Shimano dealer before being ‘vacuum wrapped’ to your feet. We’d highly encourage you to do the same if you have a Custom Fit Shimano shoe, as the comfort is superb. The insoles also come with two sets of arch inserts, allowing you to raise the in-step of the shoe.
Hands down, the Custom Fit combined with the low weight, great breathability and quick drying construction of these shoes, makes them the most comfortable ‘race’ shoe we’ve ever ridden in. This is extremely impressive given there has been zero compromise made in the performance stakes too; the full carbon sole is stiffer than a British upper lip and transfers power stupendously and the three-strap closure grasps your foot like a scared spider monkey.
We’re appreciative that Shimano has added a little some extra rubber to the sole of the shoe when compared to previous versions, making a poorly aimed pedal entry incident less of a problem. That said, clipping in seems incredibly intuitive with these shoes, especially when combined with a Shimano pedal. There’s a large window of adjustment for cleat positioning as well, allowing us to achieve the quite rearward cleat positioning we prefer.
Our previous experiences with Shimano shoes have often revealed the ratchet strap buckle to be a bit vulnerable. On the XC90s, Shimano have added a little plastic guard to deflect impacts and save the buckle itself, but the strap itself is showing evidence of have caught a lot of rocks. We’ll be trimming the excess 10mm or so off the end of the ratchet strap in the future to neaten it all up a bit.
As these are a ‘race worthy’ item, it goes without saying that they’re not really intended for much hike-a-bike work or scampering about the bush on foot. Unfortunately we’ve had to do rather a lot of this kind of stuff during video shoots, and as such the soles are starting to show a fair bit of wear. The toe studs have almost completely worn down (one has left the building completely), but they can be replaced. If you do plan on doing a lot of walking or rock scrambling, we’d encourage you to check out some of the other shoes in the range.
We’re over the moon with how these shoes have performed so far and we hope the sole rubber lasts a few years yet, as the quality of Shimano’s carbon soles and the manufacturing of the shoe upper is superb. And they’re metallic blue. Which is awesome.