The Shimano ME7 is a uniquely styled, purpose-built shoe for the enduro racing and all-mountain riding market. We also found them to be versatile enough for daily use on trail and cross-country rides.
The ME7 is suitable for use with a variety of pedal styles. We tested it primarily with the small platform Shimano Deore XT M8020. This contender will also perform well with full platform pedals such as the Crank Brothers Mallet E and is stiff enough for use with pedals with no platform like the Shimano XTR M9100 Race. We tested the ME7 on a variety of rides ranging from short backyard enduro hot laps, long backcountry trail rides, to aggressive STRAVA KOM hunts.
The ME7 is a confidence inspiring shoe that can do pretty much anything.
Shimano's claims their carbon fiber composite sole/midsole provides the pedaling effectiveness of an XC shoe, and we can't completely disagree. The ME7 is rated as an eight on Shimano's sole stiffness scale, compared to an 11 for their top of the line ultra-stiff XC race shoe, the Shimano S-Phyre XC9, and it does deliver power transfer that will please the majority of riders.
That said, people seeking an uncompromisingly stiff shoe for XC racing might be better off looking at shoes like the Shimano S-Phyre XC9 or the Giro Empire VR90. The sole of the ME7 also has a small amount of flex in the toe forward of the cleat mount area and in the very heel of the sole to aid in comfort and ease of walking. Underfoot, however, the shoe is very stiff and transfers your power quite efficiently to the pedals. While they aren't the stiffest soles in the test, we couldn't really complain about the power transfer of the ME7. We even logged several PR's on both uphill and downhill segments in these shoes.
While its not XC race shoe stiff, we found the ME7 to be stiff enough for everyone else. We were even pleasantly surprised by improved Strava times on uphill segments while riding in them.
We were pleasantly surprised by the overall comfort of the ME7. We were initially a little concerned that the higher cuff and neoprene gasket around the ankle could potentially lead to unwanted chafing; those worries soon disappeared after hours of comfortable and hot-spot-free riding. The unique look and styling of the ME7 is by design, and features like the higher cuff and neoprene gasket add to the comfort of these shoes by adding protection in the ankle area from rock strikes with the added benefit of keeping trail debris out of your shoes.
The look of the ME7 might take a little getting used to, but the instant out of the box comfort won't.
The uppers are constructed primarily of a synthetic leather material that is protected around the toe by a tough rubber rand and around the medial ankle and heel by a rubberized synthetic material. The foot feels well protected in these shoes pretty much everywhere, the pinky toe area being the one exception. A large mesh/foam panel handles ventilation over the toes, and lots of small holes perforated on the medial and lateral sides of the foot and worked well. The ME7 has a wrap style tongue that allows for easy on and off of the shoe and wraps snugly around the foot with no tongue-creep. The shoe is tightened around the foot with Shimano's "speed lace" system and "low profile reverse buckle."
As the name suggests, the speed lace system is quick and easy to use. One pull of the laces allows you to cinch these shoes as tight as you want with even pressure over the top of the foot. The laces are hidden under a large Velcro flap to prevent damage and add additional foot protection. The ratcheting buckle and strap secure the upper part of the closure at the top of the tongue and the unique reverse buckle's low profile and position higher on the foot help to keep it out of harm's way. Shimano's extra cushion insole proved to be very comfortable, providing excellent arch support and has a dense foam pad under the heel. The ME7 also has a large range of adjustability in the cleat mount area, that way you can dial in the cleats to your preference, even gravity-oriented riders who like them way back.
Traction and Walkability
The ME7 strikes a great balance between power transfer and walkability with their sole design. The flex in the toe and the small amount in the heel make this shoe comfortable and easy to walk in for those inevitable hike-a-bikes and dismounts. The Michelin Rubber outsole offers excellent traction on rocks, logs, and roots, and the widely spaced lugs clear mud, snow, and other debris efficiently. Similar to other enduro/all-mountain shoes such as the Specialized 2FO Cliplite and Giro Terraduro, the ME7 performs great on the bike and inspires confidence when you are forced or choose to walk in them.
The ME7's Michelin rubber soles offer plenty of grip and the flex through the toes allows you to walk normally.
The ME7 isn't for the gram counting mountain bikers of the world, and it isn't intended to be, but it doesn't tip the scales too far either. Shimano claims the weight of the ME7 at 375g for a size 40, and we found our size 44 test pair to weigh 425g. Most XC racers would likely scoff at that number, but this is in the sweet spot for this shoe's intended purpose of enduro racing, especially considering the features, coverage, and protection this shoe offers. The weight is comparable, and even slightly less than other similar shoes in our test, with the Specialized 2FO Cliplite, weighing in at 426g, and the Giro Terraduro at 458g for the size 43.5 pairs we tested.
Weighing in at 425g per shoe in a size 44, the ME7 was competitive with other enduro oriented shoes in our test.
Overall, the ME7 appears to be a durable shoe. After hundreds of miles of riding and abuse, the uppers appear to be in nearly perfect condition. None of the stitching is pulling out, and the well-placed rubber around the toe seems to have taken the brunt of the abrasion from rocks and other debris. The closures still work flawlessly, and the reverse buckle design has helped to keep the ratcheting part of the system out of harm's way while the attachment point of the ladder strap has taken a few rock strikes and scrapes. Underfoot the outsole has worn amazingly well and looks almost new despite heavy use.
One tester who is particularly hard on gear did expose one weak point of this shoe in the interface between the rubber rand and the outsole near the toe. After a significant amount of hike-a-bike and thrashing around in the mountains, the outsole has begun to peel ever so slightly on both shoes. This hasn't compromised the performance of the shoes in any way. However, now that this has started, it seems likely to get worse with time and is potentially a warranty-able problem. We will update this review after further use if this continues to get worse.
Our test pair of ME7's are holding up well. The only durability issue we can see is that the outsole is beginning to delaminate slightly from the uppers near the toe.
At a retail price of $200, we feel these shoes are a good value considering the features and performance they have to offer. They are far from the least expensive shoes on the market, but we believe they strike a good balance between performance and value. Those looking for a thoughtfully designed high-performance shoe that offers great protection and excellent on and off the bike performance may be very happy with the ME7.
Shimano has done a nice job with the ME7. The thoughtful and purposeful design is ideal for enduro racers, all-mountain riders, as well as everyday trail and XC style riding. The features, fit, protection and performance that this shoe offers made it a very close competition for the Top Pick for Enduro Racers Award, being edged out ever so slightly by the Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa. That said, we would still highly recommend the ME7 to anyone seeking a comfortable all-mountain shoe with a great performance both on and off the bike.
We were pleasantly surprised by the comfort and performance of the ME7.
Shimano makes two less expensive models in their ME line, the ME3, and ME2 for those on a budget. Shimano also has numerous models in their Gravity line like the AM9 or AM7 which offer similar features in a more gravity specific design.