Shimano M200 MTB Shoe
Announced earlier this year and released in September, Shimano’s M200 sits atop their new 3-model lineup of aggressive trail/all mountain clipless kicks. Their goal with the M200 is XC pedaling performance, light(ish) weight, and features suited to aggressive riding: protection from impacts, confident traction off the bike, and durability. Shoes you can ride hard in over long days, with some hike-a-biking, that will help you tolerate a jammed toe or glancing blow. You can find a list of features and photos of how they look brand new here. With that out of the way, how have they performed over the last couple of months’ worth of riding?
A micro-adjust buckle takes care of the mid-foot and everything aft including heel retention, while a speed-lacing system is pulled tight to wrap up your forefoot. The pull tab has velcro on it which you stick to the flap that folds over the whole thing. Tidiness. It’s quick to use and easy to get the tension just right, and although I like the two strap and buckle system common to other shoes like the Giro Terraduro, that midfoot strap sometimes forces you to find the balance between too tight and painful or too loose and useless.
The speed lacing system is fast and designed to give a good fit. Reinforced toe bumper protects but isn’t bulky.
Heel retention is good, and while not as cuppy as the cradle offered by custom fit options like Shimano offers in their XC-70, that comes at a premium: $270 vs $180 USD for the M200 reviewed here. Although I have a mid/low volume heel, the M200 holds on tight when the buckle is battened down, so I wouldn’t say the custom fit alone is worth the $90 premium. For more durability, hiking comfort, and some protection, you’re in the right place with the M200.
I get a surprising number of questions about that buckle (on these and other shoes): “does it snag or get in the way?” No. “Have you snapped one off?” Nope – although they’re usually replaceable, as is the case with the M200. Shimano says they’re lower profile than a BOA closure.
Protection & Outer Sole
The inner ankle is protected by extra material, and the toe and heel have armoured uppers and sole lugs that rise up to overlap. It looks and feels like the starting point was a XC shoe with protection added to it, and I like that about them. The weight is pretty low and they don’t feel bulky, but the heel and toe coverage and the sole’s great traction and triple durometer is appreciated. Walking on wet logs and rocks with a bike on my shoulder was not as comfortable as in a 5.10 with sticky rubber, but I was nowhere near making a spectacle out of it.
TORBALling. There’s a good look at the ankle protection. It’s been nicely executed – it certainly adds coverage but it isn’t bulky so you don’t notice it against your medial malleolus (inside ankle ball, and yes I looked that up).
Three different rubbers give traction or durability, depending on the zone. That cleat is slammed to the back of a long rail. It took about 20 minutes to get used to it while pedaling, but I loved it the first time I pointed the front wheel down.
The sole is designed to be durable and hard at the pedal interface, to help guide your cleat to the pedal and hold up over thousands of click-ins and outs, while the outer edge lugs are softer to give it a bit of grip if your pedals are playing hard to get. The cleat mounting area is longer than normal, affording a more rearward cleat position. If you haven’t yet slammed your cleats back on the rails – do it. I feared losing some pedaling efficiency but it’s been negligible, and the increased control and confidence from a rearward pedal placement allows better ankle articulation and control when descending or on drops. I’ve even convinced myself it’s easier to get the pedals to engage. YMMV.
When you look at it from this angle, you can see that the buckle has a low profile. In fact, it is the same one Shimano uses on their swankiest road shoes.
The M200 fits really well and works as intended. Shimano’s sole stiffness measure goes to 11 and these are rated at 8 – the same as the XC70 shoes I’ve tested – which feels like an ideal balance between efficient and comfortable for walking and longer rides. I wore them to drive to and from the trailhead every time I used them, and didn’t feel like my feet were asleep while searching for the clutch, which can be the case in stiffer XC shoes with plastic lugs. In this regard and for hiking, I’d give a slight edge to the Terraduro which has a more uniformly sticky and slightly flexier outsole.
That mesh area breathes and keeps your feet cool when it’s hot out, but it will let water in, giving you better incentive to practice manuals when you hit big puddles.
Because rotating mass matters, here are a few shoe weights for comparison. While the M2oo and Terraduro are considered aggressive trail/AM shoes, the XC70 and M3 are XC/trail shoes. All weights are for a single size 43 shoe, including SPD cleat:
Shimano M200: 460g
Shimano XC70: 398g
Giro Terraduro: 479g
Fi’zi:k M3 Uomo: 425g
The whole toe section is reinforced with rubber that overlaps upward from the sole. Between stubbing toes or my front wheel kicking up rocks, the protection has been appreciated.
Synthetic leather is cheaper and more durable than leather. And friendlier to cows.
For $180 US, the M200 brings a lot of features and value to the trail.
Do you prefer an SPD/clipless shoe that is stiff and more race oriented, one that looks more like a flat pedal shoe and is more forgiving or something in the middle?