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Hands-on Gear Review

Shimano XC31 Review


Mountain Bike Shoes

Price:   Varies from $80 - $90 online  —  Compare at 5 sellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, lightweight
Cons:  Poor traction, not durable, poor power transfer
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Shimano

Overview

The Shimano XC31 is an entry-level clipless mountain bike shoe. Geared towards cross-country and mellow trail rides, the XC31 competes against the Sidi Dominator Fit and the Giro Privateer. Unfortunately the XC31 lacks stiffness and durability.

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Curtis Smith
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
October 1, 2015
The XC31 is one of the least expensive clipless mountain bike shoes Shimano makes. Its low price point makes it attractive to riders unsure about making the jump to clipless pedals and shoes. Despite the low price, we feel most riders would be better served by purchasing a more durable and capable shoe, such as the Giro Privateer.

Performance Comparison


The outsole on the Shimano XC31 is very hard and slippery on rock.
The outsole on the Shimano XC31 is very hard and slippery on rock.

Comfort


The Shimano XC31 is the only shoe we tested that exclusively employs Velcro straps for retention. We found it to be difficult to properly adjust tension using the Velcro straps. Once we wore the shoes a few times, the straps developed a crease and would always migrate back to the preset position of the crease during rides. The ankle cuff provides a moderate amount of padding, but due to the strap tensioning issues, we had issues with heel slip when the shoe loosened up. A thin insole and unpadded tongue round out a rather underwhelming experience when it comes to fit and comfort.

Shimano XC31 out on the trail.
Shimano XC31 out on the trail.

Weight


This is one area that the XC31 shines. It is the lightest shoe we tested at 1lb 8oz. While we love a lightweight shoe, especially at this price, we have to note that the weight savings comes at the cost of a reliable retention system. If a ratcheting strap were added to replace one of the Velcro straps, the shoes would likely be heavier than some of the other cross-country shoes we tested, such as the Sidi Dominator Fit and the Giro Privateer.

The Shimano XC31 was the lightest shoe we tested.
The Shimano XC31 was the lightest shoe we tested.

Power Transfer


Shimano calls the midsole material glass fiber/polyamide. Unfortunately we do not feel that the XC31 offers adequate power transfer when used with clipless pedals that lack a platform. The sole of the shoe flexes under pedaling load and feels very inefficient; this coupled with the poor retention system does not make for good power transfer.

Traction, Walking, Running


These shoes have one of the hardest outsole materials of all the shoes we tested.
The hard silver colored plastic on the sole of the Shimano XC31 does not provide good traction.
The hard silver colored plastic on the sole of the Shimano XC31 does not provide good traction.
The hard polyurethane lugs are very slippery on rock and wet surfaces. The lugs are reasonably aggressive, but the lack of traction on smooth surfaces makes navigating rocky sections of trail very challenging. The flex in the sole is noticeable when walking, but still does not allow for a normal gait or stride.

Durability


The outsole of the Shimano XC31 is very hard and does resist abrasion well. The upper, however, is very prone to abrasion from rocks and impacts with other objects. The Velcro straps are also prone to rapid wear, especially when used in muddy conditions.

Best Applications


The XC31 is best suited to cross-country riding and commuting use.

Value


Despite being the least expensive shoe we tested, the XC31 is not a great value. Purchasing a more durable and capable shoe such as the Giro Privateer is your best bet.

Conclusion


The Shimano XC31 is a bargain entry-level shoe. It is simple and lightweight, but does not measure up to the competition when it comes to quality and performance.

Other Versions and Accessories


Shimano offers a range of mountain bike shoes as well as components. For more information on Shimano products, see our clipless Mountain Bike Pedal Review where the Shimano M530 model takes the Editors' Choice award and the Shimano M520 takes our Best Buy award.
Curtis Smith

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 1, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (2.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 100%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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