by Mark Alker
March 22, 2016
The wettest winter on record was the best time Chipps could have picked to test this classic of a winter boot
First published in Singletrack Issue 102
Getting a pair of winter boots is like getting a hamster, or growing a moustache. It’s a commitment, and not something to be entered into frivolously. Costing nearly as much as a pair of Timberland yellow boots, these Shimano MW7 boots require careful consideration. However, if you discover that they’re right for you, then they’ll reward you by extending your riding hours for the darker months.
Many riders are happy to spend £100 or so on a good lighting system, reasoning that it’ll give them more chances to ride during the winter, plus they can use it for their commute. And yet, they’ll baulk at spending a similar amount on a pair of dedicated winter boots, preferring to run the same shoes all year, or buying some overshoes.
These Shimano boots are from a long and venerable line, going back to the original boots in the early noughties. They proudly use manmade fibres to keep your feet warm and dry (within the limits of having a big hole in the top for your ankle). The upper has a breathable Gore-Tex membrane and is fleecy on the inside to trap air and keep things warm. Some winter boots can feel a little austere inside, but these are warm and welcoming. Unlike the similar MW-81 shoes, with their three Velcro straps, the MW7s us a speed-lace system to snug the foot in, with a further strap around the top of the foot’s arch to keep your foot in place while honking and walking. A Velcro cover keeps laces hidden and a neoprene cuff snugs around your ankle to keep things as watertight as can be expected. There’s a good bit of reflectivity for those dark commutes too.
Down below, there’s a reasonably plain sole, with only a small amount of tread, a large cleat area and a ‘TORBAL’ midsole. This ‘allows natural rider ‘flow’ motion during downhill descents and added comfort off the bike’. I have no idea what that means either.
When I said that winter boots are a commitment, I meant that in order to justify them, they can’t just be something you get out on the six days a year it’s snowy. They need to be something you can live in for most, if not all, rides from November to March. The MW7s are ideal companions for this kind of work. They’re easy to get into – although the inner Neoprene collar is oddly tapered, like a suit collar, and it needs care to stop it folding over. A simple pull on the speed lace and you’re in, with further cinching on the ankle strap to keep you tight into the shoe. There’s not a huge amount of adjustment and the fit is aimed at comfort, with a lack of constriction; if you’re after 100% power efficiency and foot-crushing closure, run a race shoe and a shoe cover. The sole, too, isn’t the grippiest, so winter adventurers should probably also look at the XM9 boot too.
The boots are instantly welcoming and my feet were toasty from the front door. Leather on the outside, and a lack of squishy padding on the inside, makes them easy to dry and care for too.
Overall: A good, warm and dry winter boot for dedicated winter commuters and trail riders. Racers and mountain adventurers probably need more cinch-ability and grip.
DEALS ON SHIMANO MW7