Shimano GE9 shoe review – a worthy successor to the ME7?

Can Shimano’s new GE9 gravity MTB shoe follow in the footsteps of the hugely popular ME7s?

A Shimano GE9 shoe placed on a MTB bike pedal
(Image: © James Watkins)

Bike Perfect Verdict

An excellent pair of gravity focused kicks at the top end of the market providing great levels of comfort and protection with exceptional clipless pedal interaction. The only real downside is a lack of traction when on foot in the mud.


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    Next level clipless pedal engagement

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    Great pedaling efficiency

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    Very comfortable

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    Robust and protective


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    Premium pricing

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    Not great when on foot in the mud

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    Large toe box, consider sizing down

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Shimano have recently streamlined their mountain bike shoe offering into two distinct groups, ‘Cross-Country’ and ‘Gravity Enduro’. Within the ‘Gravity Enduro’ range you’ll find the flat pedaled GF shoes and the SPD compatible GE models. We've been sent the range topping GE9 to see how it performs out on the trail and I’ve been putting in the miles in search of some gravity assistance.

Now for the sad news…. Shimano have discontinued my all-time favorite ME7 SPD shoe, which have been my go-to for trail and gravity focussed riding over the past few seasons. The ME7s have been faultless, so the GE9s have a lot to live up to.

A pair of Shimano GE9 shoes with one upside down showing the sole

The new GE9s replace Shimano's ME7s at the top of the brand's gravity SPD shoe line-up (Image credit: James Watkins)

Design and specifications

The GE9 is clearly a downhill style shoe, with a boxy trainer aesthetic, and has a very different look to the streamlined ME7 that it replaces. The uppers are made from a finely textured synthetic leather and are available in Black and Olive colorways.

The Speedlace system and ratchet buckle found on the ME7 has been replaced on the GE9 with a BOA Fit system using a single L6 dial to cinch down the front of the shoe, with a large Velcro strap at the opening to lock the collar around the ankle. A neat plastic shield has been integrated into the design to protect the BOA dial from strikes when on the trail.

One carry over design element from the ME7 is the integrated neoprene gator that sits around the ankle to stop any debris (eg small stones) from entering the shoe, and from my experience works well.

Any mountain bike shoe is only as good as its sole, and when you consider that this is our main connection with the bike and where all pedaling efforts are transferred, it’s no surprise that shoe manufacturers put a lot of emphasis on this area of design. A good sole design is not as simple as you might think, and brands employ various methods to optimize the balance between pedal efficiency and comfort. An overly stiff sole can feel like pedaling on planks of wood and gives a disconnected feeling from the bike, whereas as a very flexible sole can be simply uncomfortable on long descents and draggy climbs. The GE9s employ Shimano’s updated TORBAL 2.0 torsional midsole which has been carbon-reinforced to achieve a 7 out of 12 stiffness rating on Shimano’s scale and now includes layered EVA foam to help absorb impacts. The TORBAL midsole design has been around for a while, and aims to provide good pedaling efficiency, whilst allowing the shoe to twist along its length. In theory this provides the rider with a more comfortable platform, particularly when moving around on the bike during descents and cornering.

The ME7 used a Michelin rubber compound for the soles, but this has been replaced with Shimano’s new in-house Ultread GE rubber on the GE9. The new rubber feels very slightly softer using the unscientific fingernail test. Where the ME7 had a more lugged and toothed sole pattern, the GE9 essentially has a flat sole with a hexagonal relief pattern. The hexagonal pattern gets bigger and more spaced apart towards the toe and heel to provide better grip and traction. The deep pedal channel has been extended towards the toe and heel to help with foot stability when not clipped in, and the cleat itself can now be positioned further backwards to cater for the growing trend to have a mid-foot cleat position.

Two mountain bike shoes on some grass

The new GE9 on the left with the ME7 it replaces to the right (Image credit: James Watkins)


The GE9 is certainly a comfortable pair of shoes to slip on. The BOA dial is easy to tighten with gloved hands and the Velcro strap does a good job at locking your foot into position. The reinforced toe box with its rounded shape is noticeably more roomy than other Shimano shoes I’ve tried, and for the first few I rides, I was constantly tightening the BOA to stop my toes moving excessively. The toe box construction offers good protection from the inevitable rock strikes and associated mishaps with downhill riding.

I’ve been testing the GE9s over the past few winter months in the UK, and with a thick pair of socks they’ve been great at fending off all but the coldest of weather. They’ve been relatively easy to clean after muddy rides with a quick scrub and a wipe down, but they do take a while to dry out thanks in part to all the padding on offer. In hotter weather the black uppers may hold a bit of heat, but they do have laser cut perforations over the toe area, which on occasion, you can feel a breeze coming through.

As with my previous experience of Shimano’s TORBAL mid-sole design, I’ve been super impressed with the pedalling efficiency and comfort. Pedaling efficiency isn’t the number one factor when choosing a gravity focused shoe, but there doesn’t seem to be any downside to the TORBAL 2.0 design. When the trail points downwards and you begin to move around on the bike, the GE9s allow for plenty of natural movement, and I never felt disengaged from what was going on below me. When winching back up the trails, I never detected any unwanted flex in the sole and the GE9s were happy to either spin back up or be stomped on in XC fashion.

A Shimano GE9 shoe with the sole facing the camera

The central channel makes locating the cleat quick and easy (Image credit: James Watkins)

The new sole design includes a huge pedal channel that runs from under the toe to a point just in front of the heel. Shimano’s intention with this design was to improve your foot's stability on the pedal when not clipped in. The reality is that the extra-long channel acts as a super-efficient guide for clipping back into the pedals. This proved to be a bit of a game-changer for me. On steep descents with lots of switchbacks, I found myself instinctively unclipping my inside pedal ready to plant a foot whilst leaning the bike into the corner, safe in the knowledge that clipping back in when exiting the corner would be instant. I would even say that the GE9s encourage a ‘foot out – flat out’ style of riding, which on the right trail is an absolute blast. For reference, I’ve been testing the GE9s with Shimano’s PD-M8120 SPD pedals.

Testing shoes during a UK winter inevitably means encountering muddy conditions, and this is the only area where the GE9s began to struggle. In dry conditions the ULTREAD GE sole with its hexagonal tread pattern worked well and offered plenty of grip for any hike-a-bike sections. The introduction of sticky mud, which is unavoidable in my neck of the woods, proved too much for the GE9s. The hexagonal tread pattern soon became clogged, and the lack of any aggressive blocks or studs at the toe meant the GE9s struggled to find any traction while walking in the mud.

A Shimano GE9 shoe near a tree

My only real issue with the shoe was a lack of grip when waling in muddy conditions (Image credit: James Watkins)


The comparison between the GE9s and ME7s is unavoidable, but it’s a slightly unfair one.  The GE9 is a much more focussed gravity shoe and in this area, I can’t fault them. For me, the ME7 had wider appeal, but as with most things within mountain biking, the bikes, components and apparel are becoming more discipline specific. The comfort and pedaling efficiency of the GE9s make them an excellent option for enduro type riding. For simply playing in the woods, the GE9s would make a great, albeit expensive choice too. The only real negative I encountered was the grip offered in muddy conditions, so take this into consideration if your riding includes scrambling back up to a trailhead. If the toe box proves too roomy, it may also be worth sizing down if the fit allows.

Tech specs: Shimano GE9 (SH-GE900)

  • Price: $225.00 / £219.19 / €209.95
  • Weight: 896g per pair (size 43 tested)
  • Sizes: EU 38 (US 6, UK 5) to 48 (US 13.5, UK 12.5)
  • Colors: Black, Olive
James Watkins
Freelance Writer

James has over 35 years’ riding experience, getting involved with the burgeoning mountain bike scene in the late eighties and hasn’t stopped riding since. He raced cross-country across the South West of the UK for many years and has even dabbled with a bit of road racing. Whether going up, down, steep or flowing, James loves it all. Living in North Devon, the hills aren’t exactly mountainous, but they are plentiful, and James likes nothing better than exploring the wilderness of Exmoor and Dartmoor, and the occasional guided trip to the Alps to get the real mountain experience.