Shimano are often known for taking their time before they get into a new product segment, they also produce their new products with a fairly conservative design standard. The world of Enduro has been taking off fast, yet Shimano have taken their time to see where the market is going before they jump on-board. However with their accessory market they actually seem to be on the ball at the moment, as they have released the all mountain range of shoes. We tested their top of the range SH-M200 trail shoe, which is aimed at All Mountain and Enduro riders.
The M200 is a comfortable shoe, even for those with a wider foot. There are no seams or hard edges which felt uncomfortable. A sign of a good shoe is often as soon as you put it on it should feel instantly comfortable, in this case it was. The internal side of the shoe with the higher side added extra comfort and gave a sense of security to the shoe. The lace system was easy to use with a simple draw string which then was securely tucked away underneath the main lace cover which prevented any dirt entering into the shoe.
The ratchet closure system was easy to use and allowed a fairly precise tensioning of the shoe on the foot. Despite the mud and dirt this remained operational and was fairly easy to release. Not everyone likes the ratchet style system, but once you have got used to it, it makes sense and is easier to use than laces which can become hard and encrusted with mud, making them harder to put on and off.
With most MTB shoes weight and temperature are an important part of the shoe comfort level, these shoes felt light (768g) and did not overheat our feet. There is lots of ventilation on the front of the shoe, although if very wet they will allow some water to penetrate the shoe, so should probably be worn with a wet weather solution if necessary.
On the trail the shoes gave a good feel of the inputs that the rider put into the pedals, with Shimano’s “Torbal” mid sole allowing some flex and not complete rigidity. We don’t like it if we feel clamped into the shoe too much, yes, it helps with pedal energy transfer, but feels unnatural and over very long rides makes us feel our feet less. The M200 defiantly did not do this and gave us a comfortable feeling even with extended rides.
This leads us into the style of riding we were doing. Trail riding requires lots of directional changes and inputs, the shoes felt flexible enough to complement the rough and varied terrain that we used them in around Punta Ala, In Italy. We also found the cleat slots big enough that it was easy to adjust for our riding style, at no time did we feel that we ran out of positional adjustments.
When pedalling and un-clipping/clipping in, putting our feet down etc, the grips did not interfere with these operations. When we had to walk the shoes felt flexible enough to walk fairly normally and the cleat recessed enough not to interfere with the ground surface. On trails the rubber soles allowed good grip even with damp conditions.
We tried the shoes with a small clipless pedal and also a wider platform clipless pedal. With the platform style we felt they worked better and had better feed back to the rider. This though is personal preference, Shimano pedals are obviously recommended with these shoes, however we see no problems using other brands as well.
Shimano have created in our opinion an optimal All Mountain trail shoe that will fit most styles of trail riding and has enough grip and protection to allow harder conditions of Enduro style trail riding to be coped with. The look is conservative and does not offend, yet is rugged enough to fit with most trail rider/Enduro style preferences. We couldn’t fault their performance, and as a high end shoe this is reflected in the price for the type of comfort and features available. The M200 would probably be right for 90 percent of trail riders, those who prefer a more extreme platform pedal orientated shoe like a Five Ten VXi Impact, might not be completely satisfied. As with all things, especially bike contact points, personal ideas and riding style plays a large part in if a product is good enough for your uses, Shimano in this case have manage to satisfy a large base of preferences with one product, which is not so easy.