Shimano ME2 - Women's Review
Cons: Soft sole, sizing runs big, little adjustability
Our Analysis and Test Results
Shimano's ME2 is designed as an entry-level, stiff-soled cross country and light trail shoe. Offering a simple closure system made of three velcro straps, perforated synthetic leather upper, and rubber sole, these shoes allow a rider to try a clipless pedal at an accessible price point. Our testers agree with the advertising in that this shoe is best suited for non-technical and cross-country trails due to the soft nature of the sole, which allows vibrations from more technical trail to be felt into the feet. While these shoes don't feature many bells or whistles, they do what they were designed to do.
Stability and Control
The ME2's cleat opening is 1 3/16" long, making it on par with the cross-country orientated shoes we tested. While some of our testers prefer a larger cleat opening to allow the pedal to sit farther back on the foot, we did not find the opening on the ME2 to affect our foot position on the pedal very much.
What our testers did notice is the amount of trail feedback that can be felt through the shoe into the foot. All aside from one other pair of shoes we tested had a layer between the cleat plate and the footbed, helping to absorb trail feedback and preventing the rider from feeling the cleat under their foot. On smooth sections of the trail, we could feel the cleat. On rougher sections of trail, we felt continual pressures into our feet from rocks and roots, making the shoe uncomfortable. Because we could feel the cleat under our foot, the shoe did not invite us to push or pull much on the pedals, preventing us from transferring optimal power into the pedals. Exacerbating the problem is the significant heel lift we experienced when pulling up on the pedals. For a rider who spends more time sitting and lighting spinning the pedals this may not be an issue, but for our testers the shoe did not provide enough stability or power transfer.
Unlike some shoes we tested, we had no issues with the toebox on the ME2 and found the width to be comfortable, although the overall fit of the shoe leaves us wanting. The shoe closes with three velcro straps, while simplistic and easy to use we find the velcro closest to the toebox to serve little purpose, as we can not tighten it down without bunching the upper material. The other two straps work just fine, although there is quite a bit of excess strap material. The velcro also does not allow us to adjust the fit well enough to our foot and our feet slide fore and aft with pedaling in addition to experiencing heel lift while pulling up on the pedals. The shoe's uppers are made of a perforated synthetic leather, which provide good breathability even on hot, humid days.
The ME2 are the only shoes we tested that do not come with the cleat plate installed. While we are familiar with the cleat plate installation process, we understand that not everyone is and that the process can be both cumbersome and a bit tricky. In order to install the cleats we had to remove the footbed, slide the cleat plate into its slot, hold it in place while we turned the shoe over to installed the cleat, place a sticker over the cleat plate, and then reinstall the footbed. Because the cleatplate is directly under the footbed we were able to feel the cleat under our foot, especially after 30 - 40 minutes of riding or while riding over rocks. This caused a hotspot to develop on our forefoot.
One other note about the ME2 is it's sizing, our testers normal mountain bike shoe size is a EU40 or US8.5. We ordered the ME2 in a EU40 which fit, however the box has the US sizing listed as a 7, over a half size smaller than what we typically wear. This should be noted if you are considering purchasing this shoe, and purchase based on your EU shoe size to allow for the most accurate fit.
The sole of the ME2 is one of the softest we tested, despite not being able to flex it much in our hands, once on our feet they had a nice amount of flex behind the toebox making them easy and comfortable to walk in. While comfortable to walk in, we do not find the rubber sole to offer much in terms of grip on varying surfaces. On packed dirt they perform well, but on rocks they lack the stickiness we find in other models. Again, because the only barrier between the cleat plate and our foot is the thin footbed, we are able to feel the cleat under our foot while walking making it uncomfortable.
The ME2's synthetic uppers offer no additional protection aside from a thin textured coating that covers front of the toebox and the heel. While not as thin as other shoes tested, we prefer a double layer of upper material or other reinforcement in high impact areas such as the toebox and sides of the shoe to prevent bruising or worse from a stray rock strike to the foot. The heavily perforated uppers also provide no water resistance and allow water to easily enter the shoe, making them a poor choice when wet weather is on the horizon.
The ME2's are some of the lightest shoes we tested, weighing only 313grams for a size EU40 women's, making them very light on the foot. However, the trade-off for a lightweight shoe is a reduction in features. Our testers would prefer to see this shoe weigh a few more grams and have a layer between the footbed and cleat.
The ME2 is the least expensive shoe we tested and rightfully so, due to the basic design and lack of features. We feel this shoe is best for the rider looking to try a clipless shoe at a more accessible price point.
For the rider looking to test the waters of riding clipless on fairly smooth trails, these shoes offer an entry into riding clipless at an accessible price point. Riders should take care to note the shoe's sizing before purchasing and use their EU shoe size to help ensure the proper fit and may need to consult some videos or a shop to assist with cleat installation.
— Tara Reddinger-Adams
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