When I was down at the Haglofs UK office lauch a few weeks back I met up with Chipps from Singletrack Magazine. MTBing is another way to see and enjoy the hills, and the gear, especially the lightweight stuff often works well for both activities. Chipps was as interested in kit light enough that it won’t screw up his riding on a camping expedition he’s doing in Europe this summer, as I was in what’s happening in bikeland, as I’ve slipped behind a bit in my point of reference.
Fastforward and after Chipps put me in comms with Shimano, I have here a pair of MT90L mids to test.
At first glance they look like an ordinary leather mid-cut hiker, but they’re definitely a bike shoe under the skin. So what we have here is a 50/50 hybrid, a shoe with enough features taken from the needs of each activity to allow you to do both without having to faff around changing your shoes.
The uppers are soft leather with a toe bumper/rand which is good on wheels and feet, and they’re Gore-Tex lined which is a first for me on a bike shoe. Mini gaiter’s stuck on here and I can see dry and warm feet on a dreich hike-a-bike, even if it were an overnighter. The only obvious bike feature on the upper is an elastic loop to keep the laces out of your drivetrain, rather than a big velcro strap that I’ve been more used to.
Underneath, the hiker looks continue with a nicely aggressive Vibram outsole, deep lugs with some wide spacing to shed mud and a pronounced heel counter for secure descending (with a bike on your shoulder, that’s a lot of additional weight and these things matter, trust me!). The toe has grip curved right up its front for catching the ground when climbing steep slopes, the other time where the bike is most likely to be on your shoulder. There is a nice curved rocking motion to the front of the sole for easy walking, and all-in-all it looks like the hiker part of the shoe has been well thought out.
The first giveaway that it’s meant for serious biking is the stiffness of the sole, you need this for a stable platform when your pedalling, especially when you use cleats and clipless pedals like I do. That’s what you see in the photie below with the screws in it, a removeable panel that allows access to slots in the misole where you attach the cleats that lock you into a pedal. If you haven’t used this system (the SPD you see on the shoes is Shimano’s own name for it, Shimano Pedalling Dynamics) before, I’d recommend it, it’s much more stable and secure on rough ground and you pedal constantly in smooth circles with both feet, so that’s more power right there.
I’ve used several pairs of Shimano shoes over the years so I’ve got something to compare them to, and with these soles I’ve got high hopes that they’ll a great bit of crossover kit.
I’ll away and fit some cleats and get on with, more later.