Shimano XC7 SPD Shoes Review
  • Total rating
4.5

Summary

Stiff, efficient and super durable XC shoes with nearly unmatched versatility for racing, training and all-around riding

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Pros

  • Uncompromising XC racing shoe with a grippy rubber outsole that makes it super versatile
  • Consistent and True to size Shimano fit
  • Wide range of cleat positioning
  • Superior durability. The synthetic upper is resistant to wear and very easy to clean, and the carbon sole is nearly fully protected by the rubber outsole

Cons

  • At full price it’s still on the more expensive end in its class
  • Fit may be difficult to micro-adjust due to the single Boa dials (rectified in the new model)
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User Review
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In the cycling world Shimano is known as one of the dominant bike component manufacturers, and even though they also have a line of high-quality cycling shoes and apparel, the later is often overshadowed by news of the latest and greatest drivetrain parts from the renowned Japanese manufacturer.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Shimano cycling gear, and their latest crop of mountain biking shoes has maintained the pedigree of performance, durability, consistent fit and comfort their cycling shoes have come to be known for.

Over the years, I’ve used many pairs of Shimano shoes, and my latest Shimano pair has been their XC7 mountain biking shoes. I’ve had my XC7s for three years now, and given that significant time on them I’d say the paragraphs that follow qualify as a proper long-term review!

In this article I present why the XC7 has become one of my favorite pairs of cycling shoes (and I do own many!) and what makes them, in my opinion, one of the best mid-tier XC mountain biking shoes on the market.

I also compare them to the latest iteration of the same line of shoes, the XC 701.

Who is it for?

Expectedly, XC mountain biking shoes prioritize stiffness and pedalling efficiency over on-bike comfort and off-bike walkability. People who buy shoes in the same category as the XC7 are looking for a shoe with efficient power transfer more than anything else.

If you’ve used shoes with stiff soles in demanding riding scenarios like racing, there is just no going back to that inefficient, vague pedaling feeling that shoes with flexier soles have, however more comfortable they may be.

To be fair, it is an engineering challenge to make a cycling shoe that does both equally well, and there will always be a compromise.

What could be done, however, is reduce the gap of the elements of that compromise: make a shoe that retains the efficient power transfer of traditional racing shoes while offering just enough on and off-bike comfort, as well as allowing adequate walking traction when needed.

I believe Shimano is one of the first manufacturers to achieve this formula with the XC7. The Shimano XC7 maybe geared towards XC mountain biking, but it has a set of features that make it perfect for the multi-discipline rider who wants a good mix of pedalling efficiency, comfort and versatility.

Features and styling

The XC7 has a synthetic generously vented upper, a carbon-reinforced nylon shank tuned to offer a rigid pedaling platform while having just enough comfort-enhancing flex.

Closure duties are handled by a single Boa IP1 dial per shoe along with a Velcro strap across the forefoot area. My personal favorite feature, however, is a super grippy and very durable Michelin rubber sole.

Other XC shoes I own/have owned have had stiffer soles, flashier looks and fancier closure mechanisms but none came with a sole that gives equally excellent traction on wet rock, loose gravel and all manner of situations where you’re off the bike and need to walk (or run, to which cyclocross racers will relate!).

Shimano offers the XC7 in two colorways: black with blue accents or, the one I personally went for – bright red with a black fade (the red sure gets noticed!). One other feature that I appreciate about the XC7 is the generous cleat adjustment.

Most other shoes I own in the same class don’t allow cleat placement as far back as the XC7 does. My size 11 (Euro 45) XC7s weigh in at 776g, which is a very respectable weight in this class.

The XC7 is a notch down form Shimano’s top-of-the line XC9 XC racing shoes, which come at an eye-watering $400 price tag.

On the trail with the Shimano XC7

I have about 5000 miles on my XC7s, including a few XC and gravel races and that shows in the various signs of wear and tear they’re now starting to show (even if you wouldn’t be able to tell from a distance).

I have newer shoes, but I still often grab the shiny red pair on many of my outings. The XC7 is just a very balanced shoe. Again, they’re not the stiffest, lightest or prettiest shoes out there, but they have such a great mix of features that make them a very attractive option among the ocean of choices in this category of shoes on the market.

Comparably, my pair of DMT M2 shoes feel slightly stiffer and are very slightly lighter but with a much harder sole material they don’t inspire as much confidence as the XC7s, leaving much to be desired on amount of traction they offer when trying to hike-a-bike on anything other than loamy hardpack.

Add some slick rock or rougher terrain to the ride, and Shimano XC7’s Michelin sole wins hands down, and the very slight flex in the sole is actually much appreciated on long rides.

The Boa IP1 dials just work, and have not missed a beat in three years of use (aside from becoming slightly more difficult to turn due to dirt ingress), despite coming in contact with various objects on the trail.

Push the dial down to engage the mechanism, tighten clockwise, loosen anti-clockwise. A quick pull on the dials quickly loosens the shoes. One thing I would have appreciated is the micro-adjustability offered by using a second Boa dial, which Shimano did add in the successor to the XC7: the XC701.


Final thoughts

The Shimano XC7 is one of the few XC racing shoes I have used with the right balance between XC racer efficiency and trail riding comfort and confidence.

It certainly leans towards the XC side of the spectrum, which is Shimano’s unambiguous intention with the XC7, yet it has plenty of features that broaden its capability in most riding situations.

If you’re an XC racer who wants a stiff shoe for out-and-out speed with the versatility to use in general trail riding, CX events and gravel grinding, the XC7 (or its newer iteration, the XC701) may just be the perfect shoe for you.

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