Shimano GF4 NSMB Andrew Major (2)

Shimano Flat Pedal Shoes: GF400 or GF600?

Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
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Shimano's Fresh Flex

Shimano's new GF400 and the GF600* flat pedal shoes are excellent. They have impressive sole durability that will satisfy lovers of the Michelin-soled GR7. They have a level of traction that puts them into the conversation with high end flat pedal shoes from Five Ten, Ride Concepts, and Giro. All with Shimano's typical quality, attention to detail, and fit.

I'm wearing my usual size 43 in Shimano's more casually constructed high performance shoes. I bring up the size early because if the question is 'should I check out Shimano's new flat pedal shoes?' my answer is yes. If it's a question of choosing the GF4 or the GF6, stiffness is the most important differentiator. At 185 lbs in my size 43s, your experience may differ. The GF6 weighs 461 grams per shoe whereas the GF4 is 445 grams in size 43.

*Interchangeably referred to as GF4 / GF400 and GF6 / GF600

Shimano GF4 vs GF6 NSMB Andrew Major (2)

The shoes share Shimano's ULTREAD GF rubber compound, the raised inner ankle, and a sweet set of laces.

These shoes share a few features, including the ULTREAD GF rubber compound for the similar but not identical soles, which I'll discuss more below. The detail I always enjoy is the raised and padded inner ankle, which I never fully appreciate until I wear shoes without it.

The laces were what I loved most on my first ride and they're a step up from those on Leatt's 2.0 Flat Shoes. The Shimano laces are lighter feeling and hold even less water yet they share the "tie-once (not too tight) and go ride functionality." I do a lot of pedaling from a standing position and hike-a-biking so it's always a bit of a surprise when I don't have to tighten my lace-up shoes on a ride. They are not as stretchy Giro's Latch shoe laces, but that's a battle of unicorns for another day.

Banshee Enigma Shimano GF6 NSMB Andrew Major by Meg

Splitting hairs #1. The GF600 upper is more water resistant and dries a bit faster. Photo - Meg

Shimano GF4 NSMB Andrew Major

Splitting hairs #2. The GF400 is more breathable when it's hot. Photo - The Clairebarian

Soles & Treads

If you often hike-a-bike, the performance of the GF6 pushes ahead of the GF4. The subtly different tread details on the toe make an appreciable traction difference when hiking up steep and loose terrain. Coupled with the increased stiffness and support of the GF6, I'll choose it over any other shoe if I know I'll be hiking a lot.

I've recommended the Shimano GF series shoes to quite a few flat pedal converts who want lots of grip but miss the more direct power transfer of clipped-in shoes. Thanks to the high-traction rubber of the ULTREAD GF tread, there's no lack of grip despite the reduced compliance in the pedal-shoe interface.

Shimano GF4 vs GF6 NSMB Andrew Major (4)

The GF4 & GF6 use the same rubber compound and I don't find the round versus hexagonal dots matter, but the GF6 (bottom) is subtly better for hike-a-biking.

Shimano GF4 vs GF6 NSMB Andrew Major (3)

The light grey section of the sole is EVA rubber that "absorbs impacts and improves sole flexibility for enhanced downhill stability." It's longer on the GF6 and the GF4.

Shimano only rates the GF6 as a Level 3 on their stiffness chart. This is a much lower rating than an all around clip-in shoe like the ME5 that Cooper just reviewed, only one level above the rating of the GF4 (Level 2), and the same rating as the previous top-level GR7/GR9 shoes. I'm suspicious because the GF6 feels much stiffer than those other flat pedal shoes and much more similar to a trail use clip-in shoe

The GF6 is stiffer than any other flat pedal shoe I wear. This is noticeable when standing and climbing my bike up steep sustained sections, hiking, and on long janky hardtail descents where my feet don't get as sore. If I'd only reviewed the GF6 I'd be tempted to credit the latter to the EVA rubber section of the sole damping vibrations, but the GF4 shares this feature.

The EVA section functions similarly to Giro's patented Mute foam midsole, but the damping effect is less noticeable. Giro's explanation of Mute best sums up the concept either way: "It's a patent-pending slow-rebounding foam-injection-molded midsole layer meant to dampen the bounce from hard landings and punching through chunder-ridden trail sections."

Giro Latch Shoe NSMB Sole Mandrew (1).JPG

In absolute terms, the Giro Latch shoes have a grippier rubber tread than the GF4/GF6, which also wears much faster than the Shimano soles.

Giro Latch Shoe NSMB AndrewM (21).JPG

The Giro Mute rubber sole is similar to Shimano's EVA, but more notably damped. Photo - Crash Test Kevin

Other Shoes

Let's say you're signing up for the 365-day flat pedal challenge and trying to choose a pair of shoes. The GF4 and GF6 both have tenacious traction. The GF4 has a more forgiving flex that will likely better suit lighter riders and those with smaller feet, while the GF6 will better suit those looking for stiffness closer to a clip-in-like shoe.

For the wet weather grip and trail damping, I give the nod to the Giro Latch. That Tack rubber grip, holy sh*t (speaking of, worst shoes I've ever had to scrape clean of dog crap). That aforementioned Mute foam midsole is a considerable comfort boost in the jankiest terrain. The stretchy laces are a luxury, but at a few costs. The Giro shoes rob some efficiency while climbing due to the impressive damping, and the treads wear much faster. Stiffness-wise, they're similar to the GF4.

Best Of 2021 NSMB Crankbrothers Stamp AndrewM.jpg

I love how the Giro Stamp shoe conforms and flexes around my pedals but they are not as comfortable as the GF6 for big hike-a-bikes or janky hardtail descents. Photo - Jac

Crankbrothers Stamp Shoe NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

The Match rubber soles are much longer-wearing than the Giro Tack rubber, but I'd call them comparable to Shimano's ULTREAD GF while being less grippy than either competitor.

My favourite shoes to slip into remain Crankbrother's Stamp lace. The soles are nowhere near as grippy as Giro's Tack Rubber or Shimano ULTREAD GF but they're suitably grippy. The soles conform enough to my pedals that, even on the greasiest days, I can achieve a magic balance of being able to move my feet around and stay glued to my pedals.

For folks looking for maximum traction, these will not be the first choice and that's where I always suggest the Giro Latch. Compared to the Shimanos, I'd always choose the Stamp Lace over the GF4 but I've been consistently finding that I'm grabbing the GF6 over anything. On proper rides on my hardtail, my feet feel less beat up compared to descending in the Stamps and I notice the difference in climbing efficiency compared to the Latch on both my hardtail and full suspension bikes.

Shimano GF6 NSMB Andrew Major (2)

Wait, how can the GF6 be the more weather-resistant shoe when it has a bunch of holes in the top? The Shimano GR7 defied science in this regard as well.


Part of the cost difference between the GF6 and GF4 is the included insoles. The GF4 has a standard floppy insert while the GF6 includes a more structured form. I pedaled in both setups in both shoes, and the only benefit I noticed from the stock GF6 insole is that it absorbs less water.

I've written plenty about Esker's Canadian-made wool insoles so I'll link and move on with my shoe review. To make things fair comparing stiffness, I ran the same pair of Esker The Approach insoles in both shoes. There's an increase in support over the stock inserts but more important for me is the moisture and temperature managing characteristics. The smell management is nice, too.

Price Aside

The Shimano GF6 is a more expensive shoe than the GF4 to an extent that I don't think is reflected in the performance improvement, unless a rider is looking for a stiffer interface. In that case the GF6 is the winner, no contest. I assume this stiffness difference is why Shimano does not offer the GF6 in sizes smaller than a European 38. While the GF4 covers a range of 33-48, the GF6 only covers a range of 38-48.

Given the nice blend of stiffness, grip and quality construction of the GF6, I'm surprised Shimano doesn't offer it in a Euro 49 and 50. I think it would be the perfect flat pedal shoe for mountain bikers with large feet. Five Ten sells the Freerider and Freerider Pro in sizes up to 50 as Giro does with the Latch. Considering my experience with the support of the GF6, it would be a competitive option.

Shimano's soles taper as you approach the arch and have less pedal pin and body contact for riders who pedal more ball-over-axle. I didn't find this to be a grip or support issue at all.

EVOC Trail Pro 16 Banshee Enigma Kali Invader NSMB Andrew Major by MEG (2)

I rode the GF4 and GF6 with OneUp Composite, Squidworx, NSB Daemon, Pembree D2A, and Wolf Tooth Waveform pedals on rigid, hardtail, and full-suspension bikes. Photo - Meg

Banshee Engima Shimano GF6 Shoe NSMB Andrew Major by Meg

I found that the Shimano shoes had the most natural landmarking with the Waveform pedals (large platform), but the grip was great with all five pedal options. Photo - Meg

Some shoe rubber seems to work better with threaded machine screws but I tend towards pedals with smooth pins as I find they allow shoe soles to interface more predictably and wear longer. Of the pedals I've used, the Wolf Tooth Waveform had the most natural landmarking, but the Shimano soles provided excellent traction with a range of different sizes, shapes, and pin types.

While they are much less expensive, I'd choose other shoes over the 150 CAD | 110 USD Shimano GF4 but would still recommend them for riders with smaller feet or who prefer a more flexible sole.

I really enjoy the pedal interface, grip, and efficiency of the 220 CAD | 160 USD Shimano GF6. They are a big jump up in price from the GF4 though, which I'd have a hard time justifying in terms of added features, except for riders chasing a stiffer flat-pedal-shoe interface.

Price considerations aside, both shoes are excellent on the trail.

Shimano Gravity Flat Pedal Shoes

Andrew Major

Height - Steve Buscemi-ish

Wait - Patiently

Ape Index - T-Rex

Age - The same as DOS

Favourite Trail(s) every week - Pipeline (thank you Ken!) to Lower Crippler (thank you Andy!)

Favourite Song(s) this week - I'm Your Man. Nick Cave (covering Leonard Cohen)

Favourite Colour - Cosmic Lilac

Bar Width - It depends

Reach & Stack & ETT - It depends

Crank Length - 175mm except when it's 170mm

Wheel Size - Hot For Mullets

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+1 Velocipedestrian

I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed... that Shimano dropped the lace covers.

Disappointed that Shimano shoes have been gradually getting worse for winter riding since they discontinued the AM45/AM41 (though the 41 wasn't so grippy)

When riding in the wet, the vast majority of the water is coming from my front wheel. Is it so hard to make the inside and top of a shoe water resistant, and have any vents down the outside of the foot? IMO this is a much better solution that the full goretex/boa shoes that have been appearing of late.



I suppose the perfect solution for everyone would have been for Shimano to keep making some models with the covers are some without. 

Personally happy to see them gone (I can’t be the only one who was grumpy about the Velcro on the giant flaps dying way  before the rest of the shoe - “when I see an elephant fly“ - and who didn’t find that flaps really worked to keep out water, and found them hot in the summer?) but I know other folks who lament their extinction.

Riders who do give the new shoes a chance though, I think will be very impressed by the grip and the longevity of the sole. And the new laces, exposed though they are, are great when wet. I’ve stream-cleaned both these shoe models, though mainly the GF600.



I can't say I had a problem with the velcro on the 3x pairs of am41s I had. I have a pair of AM901 where I have repaired the velcro (hand stitched some more loop side on) after about 5 years of semi-regular use.

The AM41s were wonderful at dealing with puddle/stream splashes. The 901s not so much, as the toe box is full of holes (vents). 

I don't ride in the rain too much, but the ground is wet a good 2/3rds of the year in the UK, so wheel splashes can really effect comfort over a lot of your riding. I'm not sure if ground water is of the same issue on the shore, I know you get a lot of rain!

Currently running the specialized shoes and while I was pleasantly surprised by their splash proofness, the laces are maybe *too* good, making putting them on and off a pain as they don't slide through the eyelets very easily. Doubly so when you're trying to wrestle with wet muddy laces after a ride.

Apologies as this is turning into a novel, but I've never suffered what I would class as hot feet when mountain biking, including 2 weeks in the Alps in 30oC+ so the wet weather performance is always top of my list with biking shoes.


+1 Konda

I don’t know if it’s on/off reps or the granular-grime we have here that people call mud but it’s hell on Velcro. Shoes get it the worst - flaps or straps. 

I haven’t ridden in a pair of Specialized shoes in ages but I’ve always been impressed by their quality.



Great read Andrew as always. A big thank you for the detailed comparisons to multiple competitors about several different performance criteria - so much more useful than “pretty grippy and mostly stiff”


+1 ackshunW

Thank you!

Shoes are tricky. Ideally folks with any foot size would be able to try on a few different pairs before purchasing but the turns are so low most shops only stock a couple models that they like and know will sell. Even then, because it fits doesn’t mean it grips.

My dream would be that collectively my shoe reviews would at least help folks narrow down their options a bit, whether contacting dealers to try shoes on or rolling the dice with an online order.


+2 Andrew Major BarryW

Your reviews do that for me. I only run flats a few times a year for about a month or so. I find flats good for refining technique. Stiffer soles even with my small feet are my preference. I bought some RC shoes on a pro deal and found the too flexy. Sore feet and right foot goes numb. I know from my running shoe days that EVA mid soles lose their cushion pretty fast. Maybe 6 months if you run 5 hours a week and wear the shoe around casually. Polyurethane lasts longer. Those Shimano shoes "look" like PU. Back when I worked at Brooks PU was moulded as opposed to EVA which was cut and sanded to shape. What has been your experience with the longevity of cushioning on various shoes? And does it even matter? 

Oh. The first rule of hike a bike is: There is no hike a bike.



I can’t speak to the Shimanos yet, but with the Giro Mute midsole I don’t notice any change in performance, at least before the shoes themselves are trashed to the point I’m retiring them. 

They’re definitely more of a spin-up/plunge down shoe though with the damping being more pronounced. I much prefer them on a multi-speed bike.



How's the fit, grip and stiffness of the new shoes compare to the old GR7?  The GR7 has been by far my favorite shoe...disappointed to see the neoprene ankle gaiter is no more but hopefully the new shoes perform and fit similarly?


+1 Wayne

Too many people tried to use the gator as a handle to pull their shoes on. I’d cringe to think how many shoes Shimano must have covered (I know of at least two cases). 

I loved the GR7, but the soles provide at least equal grip and infinitely more durability in comparison. Laces are a big step up too. 

Stiffness-wise, Shimano claims the GF6 has the same rating as the GR7 but I think, from my memory, that the GF6 is less flexible (I would unscientifically compare the GF4 to GR7 in that regard).

Based on my experience, anyone who was keen on the GR7 will be keen on the new shoes. Same fit, better performance/longevity.



I want to love the Shimano product but they just don' fit me ( too roomy)  so I have given away 2 pair in SPD genre

In flats  I'm rocking  510's and 661 axo dualies which feel about the same 

its really hard to find  size 7 shoes, it took my local dealer  6 months of peeking on their website every so often


+1 Andrew Major

Try RC. Their shoes seem to be small. I usually wear a 7 or even smaller sometimes. I wear 7.5 in RC.



Was going to say this. RC, at least for some models, fit a half-size small and lower volume.


+2 Andrew Major Fat_Tony_NJ

I have a narrow heel/ wide forefoot so for clipless shoes its been the Specialized product usually on the closeout table cuz they didnt fit anyone but often bricks n mortar shops just don't stock shoes that are very small or very big and why would they stock shoes that don't sell,  ?

ski boots are also fun cuz mens sizes usually don't  go small enough and womens boots are too soft/ wrong shape

what does RC stand for ?


+2 Andrew Major XXX_er

Ride Concepts.

Check out the prices on the closeouts. 

I too have a narrow heal but more normal forefoot width. I wear a 24 shell ski boot. Sometimes with feet like ours, when you find your size you simply pounce on them. Usually riding shoes in our size are easier to get. Ski boots though. "Ya like pink and about as stiff as wool socks" .


+2 XXX_er BarryW

“…often bricks n mortar shops just don't stock shoes that are very small or very big and why would they stock shoes that don't sell, ?

A lifetime ago when I was involved with shop bookings we’d always bring in at least one option for clip-in and one option for flat-pedals to cover the full adult range up to a 50. 

This is entirely anecdotal but folks with small feet were always really grateful that we had an option in their size and dudes who wore 48/49/50 always (always!?!?!) wanted a deal because “Who else are you going to sell them to?”

If I was booking for a shop now the GF4 would be a very safe bet (I doubt it can be beat at SRP for the blend of quality, grip, & price) and I’d stock from the 33 to a 47.

Kids need great shoes too!



It makes me pretty angry that Shimano makes wide MTB shoes, but only in the clipped-in, disco ballet slipper variety.

5.10 has gotten more narrow since Adidas bought them... very few choices for wide feet in cycling right now. It's tough out here for us cavemen!

Anyone have a good recommendation for a 10.5 EE-EEE, for flats?


+1 Fat_Tony_NJ

The Shimano GF shoes are fairly roomy, I'd be surprised if the 'wide' disco slippers have more volume than their flat shoes. That's not me claiming your feet fit in the GF line of shoes.

Shimano says: "Volume Trail Last: Tuned upper is tighter around ball of foot for enhanced bike control and pedaling efficiency, and has increased volume at the toe box and heel for improved walking comfort and shock absorption"


My friends with bigger feet seem to really like the 2FO from Specialized. As noted elsewhere I haven’t had a pair of Specialized shoes forever, so not something I'm recommending based on experience, but my past experiences have been that they're very good quality. 

The Leatt shoes I've reviewed were quite generous volume-wise, and I'd guess they'd also be most likely to fit wide feet.



big laces winning the war on lace covers


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