Shimano updated this shoe with some new aesthetics. The functionality of the shoe looks to be largely the same, however there are some small tweaks, like updated upper materials and a loop added to the back to pull the shoe on with. Compare the two below; the updated model is shown first, followed by the grey/mint green model we tested below.
We link to the new model above, but the review below is only our account of the previous model.
Hands-On Review of the GR7
Shimano collaborated with Michelin tire to create the sole of this shoe. While we were optimistic about the results, we found it was easier to hike our bikes than keep our feet on the pedal. However, we found a delicate balance of rigidity and power in the shoe that helps make up for lack of grip.
The GR7s after a wet day at Northstar.
The sole of the Shimano GR7 features Michelin rubber — the only of its kind in the line-up. The grip feels much better than the Vibram rubber featured on the Grio Riddance and Bontrager Flatline. However, we the grip paled in comparison to Five Ten rubber. On technical downhills, we found our feet getting misplaced consistently and had to concentrate on pressing our feet into the pedals to stay on our bike.
Fatter lugs on the toe and heel make for easy hike-a-bike sessions.
The tread on the bottom is a varied pattern. The lugs on the heel and toe are larger and are meant to help when having to hike a bike. We found this varied pattern works well for hiking over rocks and roots.
Comfort and Protection
Around the ankle, there is a mesh ankle collar intended to keep debris out when riding. We were skeptical about this feature, mainly because it's pretty weird looking. But form follows function, so we'd be willing to give it a pass if the ankle collar actually worked. However, if you're riding a dusty or dirty trail in the slightest, then dirt creeps its way into your shoes in the same way as shoes without this gimmicky piece.
Dirt penetrated the ankle protector during our rides.
The padding around the ankle is bulky, and there is a small break-in period for that padding to mold around your foot. We recommend doing that break-in period on short rides with mellow trails. For protection, there is a half-inch of reinforcing plastic on the toe of the foot, but other than that there is none on the rest of the upper.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
The GR7's fell right in the middle of rigidity and flexibility, which we love. They're flexible enough that we were able to feel the pedal underfoot and hike the bike with ease, but we never felt our feet cramp during big climbs. However, because of the grip, we felt like we could not transfer power into our pedals for fear of slipping.
Not the most attractive pair of shoes we tried.
The upper is perforated synthetic rubber with mesh paneling for breathability. We thought maybe the ankle guard at the top of the shoe might make the shoe less breathable, and it did slightly. Our feet feel noticeably warmer in these shoes than others we tested.
Michelin rubber is a tougher rubber compound than mountain bike specific compounds that Ride Concepts and Five Ten use. As a result, there is minimal scarring on the bottom of our pedal. The uppers are thick synthetic material (almost has the same texture as a rain-jacket), and it seems to be incredibly durable. We scraped these babies against rock and trees, and the material was primarily unphased. The most sensitive material is the ankle guard, which may start to pill after months of use.
Weight-wise, the GR7 lands right in the middle of all the shoes we tested. As a result, we did not notably feel the shoes on our feet. It is great that we couldn't feel these shoes during climbings, but a little extra weight may help give the shoe a little more grip.
Lightweight Shimano's on the chair at Northstar.
This shoe falls right in the middle between expensive and inexpensive in the market of flat pedal mountain biking shoes. We think that the Ride Concepts Livewire is a better option because they are significantly cheaper and offer more protection and grip than this shoe.
Shimano's collaboration with Michelin rubber can't quite compete with Five Ten and Ride Concepts in terms of grip. While they did make up for the underwhelming grip by making it easy to feel our pedals, we think that for less money you can buy a better shoe.
Front and Back of the GR7s after a long ride.