Shimano GE5 Review: A New Perspective on Gravity/Enduro Shoes
Despite their gravity/enduro label, Neil found the new canvas Shimano GE5 shoes to perform exceptionally well while bikepacking. In his latest video review, Neil shares his experience with them and what makes them a good multi-disciplinary shoe. Watch it here and find a written review, pros and cons, and a selection of photos…
The “Bikepacking” shoe segment has seen an influx of options in recent years. Yet, the definition of a bikepacking-specific shoe can vary among brands. In the world of gear, there’s a notion that there’s no such thing as the right gear—or there’s no one-size-fits-all option—it’s more about what works best for a specific purpose. So, let’s delve into the Shimano GE500, or GE5 for short, a shoe labeled as gravity/enduro, and why it’s suited for bikepacking. Watch the video review below and scroll down for the written version, pros and cons, and a variety of photos.
This journey began when I tested my first lace-up cycling shoe in years, the Pearl Izumi Canyon SPD. Lace-ups, a vanishing breed in the cycling shoe world, turned out to be a revelation. They allow you to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of tying a double knot and really let you fine-tune the fit more than many shoes with ratchets and dials.
Comfort during rides is vital, but camp comfort holds a special place in my heart. While carrying ultralight camp shoes may appeal to some, I find it unnecessary, given the additional packing space and weight they require. I prefer a shoe that can transition seamlessly from morning lace-up to all-day pedaling to shuffling around camp. The GE5, in my experience, does an admirable job in this regard.
Visually, the GE5 bears some resemblance to the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch SPD shoe, and while Shimano sold off the Pearl Izumi brand in May 2022, these shoe designs were likely in the works for years before that. The canvas upper with matching laces offers an appealing look, with color options including black, sage, light green, and women’s denim. While the black canvas has shown some wear and tear, it’s generally held up well, except for an incident involving my foot wedged between a rock at high speed. The shoe and my foot didn’t fare too well that day, but it’s a reminder. Would this happen on the leather upper on the slightly higher-end GE700? Hard to say, but probably not.
Putting on the GE5 is a cinch. Tightening and loosening the laces is smooth, thanks to the lengthened grommet holes. Unlike the Pearl Izumi Canyons, which lack grommets, this lace system has proved to be a little more user-friendly. Plus, there’s an additional Velcro strap that easily and neatly hides the double knot.
One thing I noticed immediately about the Shimano GE5 is the spacious toe box, which is significantly larger than what I’ve experienced with other shoes in recent years. This extra width doesn’t create an uncomfortable fit but rather ensures that my foot remains correctly positioned for both riding and hiking. The heel cup effectively secures my foot and supports my Achilles, minimizing heel movement even during steep hike-a-bikes. Over time, the shoe adapted to my foot shape. Note that the stock insoles provided little support, so I swapped them for custom ones.
The padding around the ankle is another welcome feature, enhancing comfort and offering a little protection from trail debris. There’s even raised padded ankle protection on the inner side of the shoe, presumably for added safety against frame or crank arm impacts, though I haven’t encountered such scenarios.
I’m always skeptical about shoe tech. I mean, how much can actually be innovated on a shoe? Nonetheless, Shimano might be onto something with their TORBAL 2.0. The TORBAL 2.0 midsole incorporates slits on the outer side of the shank plate. These slits are designed to enhance pedal grip and foot positioning as the insole interacts with them. This design, combined with the EVA foam layer, allows the outer sole edge to flex and absorb rolling motions and is supposed to result in improved stability and better bike control. At first, I credited the wider footbox for my enhanced balance and stability. However, upon removing the insole and learning more about this technology, I’m inclined to believe it. The slits also aid in drainage, although the GE5 isn’t the quickest-drying shoe I’ve owned, it does a decent job and provides better warmth in cooler temperatures than the highly breathable Canyon.
I did plenty of hiking in these shoes, and they performed admirably. With my aftermarket insole and the outsole, the GE5 provided a comfortable, blister-free experience and excellent grip. The outsole’s rubber, while reminiscent of the pattern on Five Ten shoes, offers a softer feel, which seems a little more sure and grippier. A true test of a shoe’s hike-ability is whether or not you can feel the cleat while walking. Even with the cleat positioned all the way back on the cleat plate, it remained well protected. Upon clipping in, the nylon shank offered sufficient stiffness for pedal feel and efficient power transfer, while still maintaining an proper amount of flex for hikes. The shoe’s stiffness is rated at 5 out of 12 on Shimano’s scale.
Arriving at camp, I’d loosen the laces and use the shoes as slippers, which came in handy during midnight bathroom visits. The added cushion made off-bike “non-gravity” and “non-enduro” moments far more enjoyable.
- Model Tested: Shimano GE5, Size 46
- Actual Weight (pair w/ cleats): 1,149 grams (40.5 oz)
- Place of Manufacture: China
- Price: $140 at Backcountry: Men’s Women’s
- Manufacturer’s Details: Shimano
- Comfortable out of the box
- Nice wide toe box
- The shoe has a nice secure fit, providing confidence on descents and hiking
- Ideal flex-to-stiffness ratio
- Love the simplicity of laces
- Great hike-a-bike SPD shoe
- Insoles have zero support
- The upper is a bit delicate
- Black is a little boring, but other colors are intriguing
In summary, the Shimano GE5 shoes provided an excellent fit for my uniquely shaped feet. As someone who relishes pushing the boundaries on descents, these shoes seem to have all the ingredients for upping the confidence level while doing so. They also proved to be versatile for hiking on various terrain, including ultra-rugged hike-a-bikes, and proved their worth around camp. Despite being labeled as gravity/enduro shoes, the Shimano GE5 also earned the bikepacking shoe label in my eyes.
For reference, I typically wear an 11.5, and the size 46 fit perfectly, even accommodating swollen feet after six hours of riding. The total weight of the size 46, including cleats, was 1149g, and the price tag of $140 USD felt reasonable, considering the additional features it offers compared to the $125 USD Pearl Izumi Canyon.
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