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 R. Unfortunately the XC31 lacks stiffness and durability.
Shimano XC31 Review
Cons: Poor traction, not durable, poor power transfer
Our Analysis and Test Results
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 R.
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.
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 R.
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 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.
The XC31 is best suited to cross-country riding and commuting use.
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 R is your best bet.
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.
— Curtis Smith