Shimano MT7 Review: Bike, Hike, Repeat
Shimano’s new MT7 shoe is clipless-ready, offers increased flexibility for hiking, and is purpose-built for those looking to get out there and explore off the beaten path. So, how did the BOA-equipped mountain bike shoe stand up to the rigours of the Oregon Timber Trail and beyond? Read on to find out…
A lot of riders out there, myself included, may glance past a riding shoe designed around a single BOA closure. My first thought on a shoe that has no other kind of velcro, strap, or ratchet to keep my foot in place was, “What if the BOA breaks while bikepacking?” I doubt I’m alone on this one. However, it’s worth mentioning that BOA has been “reinventing the shoelace” for 17 years now, and the BOA technology can be found in work boots, medical equipment, and of course on the feet of some the world’s best cyclists. If a dial or lace were to break, it’s nice knowing that repair kits are readily available and the BOA system is guaranteed for the lifespan of whatever product they are integrated into. In any case, the BOA system is solid enough for bikepacking, and we’ve used plenty of cycling shoes using the technology while bikepacking with great success. Was I still a little skeptical taking them out out for 13 days of bikepacking along the Oregon Timber Trail this summer? Definitely.
Shimano released the MT7 earlier this year as part of their Explorer series. The lineup is broken down into Road Touring / City Touring, Cross Mountain (that includes the burly XM9 and XM7 that we reviewed here), as well as Mountain Touring – home of the MT7. Where the XM9 and XM7 shoes resemble a light hiking boot, the MT7 is probably best described as a light hiking shoe that is stiff enough for long-distance and multi-day riding, but allows enough flexibility in the foot for prolonged hike-a-bikes. I’ve put around 800 miles on the pair I’m currently using, including some spring riding in British Columbia, the steep and chunky trails found in the Pacific Northwest, and, of course, the 600 or so miles along the Oregon Timber Trail. A good portion of this (maybe too much to admit) was spent pushing a fully loaded bike up loose, rocky trails. I’ve worked these shoes pretty hard over the past few months, and not once did I let up to keep them pretty or clean.
As mentioned earlier, the MT7s are based around a BOA closure. The L6 dial allows for micro adjustments on the fly, and the steel lace weaves through a total of 10 webbing eyelets to create a snug fit all the way down the dorsal area of the foot. The body of the shoe is constructed from a durable synthetic leather and offers a healthy amount of ventilation from several reinforced rip-stop mesh areas along the sides and front of the shoe. I found the MT7s to be some of the most breezy shoes I have ridden in, making them ideal for warm weather riding or those with notoriously hot feet. A flexible half-length shank provided ample stiffness for bikepacking, while offering plenty of give when tackling long hike-a-bikes. Compared to the Giro Terraduro, another popular clipless bikepacking shoe that I have spent lots of time in, the MT7 is much less stiff. Those seeking that kind of platform should look elsewhere. An EVA midsole provides shock absorption and a rubber sole provides decent grip on a variety of surfaces. The MT7s are also significantly lighter than the Terraduros, weighing in at 884g compared to 1,120g, a noticeable difference that might be appreciated by those looking for something light and agile.
I only really had two issues the MT7 shoes: one related to design and the other to durability. Firstly, and I noticed this the first time I tried the shoes on and am still struggling with it today, is that the BOA closure did a great job keeping my foot in place, but it was one heck of a battle trying to get my foot into the shoe. The BOA dial has two positions, clicked in for tightening and clicked out for loosening, but for some reason when the laces were fully loosened, I rarely had enough room to get my foot into the shoe. I often had to work the laces manually towards the opening of the shoe to get enough play in the tongue of the shoe to even attempt to put them on. As far as I can tell this isn’t an issue with the BOA itself, and I’ve got pretty averagely shaped feet, so I’m thinking that because the MT7 relies only on a BOA lacing system, where other shoes include some kind of velcro closure at the opening of the shoe, things just have to be a little snug in order to ensure the shoe can tighten down sufficiently. Either way, I find it quite annoying. Is it a deal breaker? I don’t think so, but those with particularly voluminous feet are going to want to try these on before purchasing.
My next observation was the durability of the rubber soles and the clear signs of wear after my testing period. Keep in mind, I put some serious mileage on the MT7 shoes – both riding and hiking – so it wasn’t a complete surprise coming from a Shimano-branded rubber. A few of the smaller lugs, especially those close to the edge of the sole, started to fall away after only a couple of months of use. The good news is the sole didn’t continue to deteriorate while riding the Oregon Timber Trail, where the majority of my riding took place, but there are some definite weak points on the sole that hopefully Shimano can address in future models. Otherwise, the synthetic upper of the shoe is holding up very nicely, and I have no problem recommending the Shimano MT7 shoe for someone on the hunt for a clipless compatible yet flexible bikepacking shoe.
- Lightweight and flexible design is ideal for those looking for their first clipless shoe, especially for occasional walking.
- Very breathable compared to similar clipless mountain bike shoes. Great for warm weather riding.
- Offered in two different colours, orange and olive, which also helps keep the feet on trend.
- Perhaps too flexible for those used to riding stiff shoes, worth checking out before buying.
- Not as durable as Giro Terraduro, softer rubber on sole is showing some wear.
- Single BOA closure has made getting the MT7 on slightly annoying.
- Price $140
- Weight 884g (1 lbs 15 oz) / pair size 45
- Sizes 36-48 in whole sizes
- Place of Manufacture China
- Manufacturer’s Details Shimano-LifestyleGear.com
Support your local bike shop and buy from them. If you must buy online, check REI.
It’s a real shame I’ve been having such a struggle getting my foot into the Shimano MT7, however humorous, as it’s the only frustrating part about the shoe. It might actually be a deal breaker for those with wide feet. Otherwise, the MT7 is a great option for warm weather bikepacking as it is durable, breathable, and quite flexible for when that inevitable hike-a-bike decides to grace you. They have held up great through some pretty rough and rowdy riding over the last few months, and although the sole is showing some signs of wear, I am pretty sure I’ll keeping rocking them for the remainder of the fall and into the winter. I think the Shimano MT7 is a great clipless-compatible mountain bike shoe for rides with warm weather and plenty of hiking, and the flexible sole may be appealing for those looking for their first clipless shoe.