Shimano MW7 XC 2023 review – a warm and waterproof XC winter wellie

Lightweight and resilient cross-country focused clip-in with branded Gore-Tex membrane and BOA fit system

Shimano MW7 XC 2023
(Image: © Paul Burwell)

BikePerfect Verdict

An excellent lightweight XC winter mud plugger that you can evac quickly. Easy engagement, impressive mud shedding and just the right amount of flex for walking or biking comfort. Warm, waterproof and highly recommended.

Pros

  • +

    Easy entry and exit

  • +

    Waterproof and toasty

  • +

    BOA fit system has big range of adjustment

  • +

    Excellent rigidity – not too stiff, not too soft

  • +

    Available in a myriad of sizes

Cons

  • -

    Limited waterproof layer

  • -

    Should have toe studs as standard

  • -

    Flimsy footbed

  • -

    Needs bed in time

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Shimano MW7 XC

The Shimano MW7 XC is fully sealed keeping your feet perfectly dry (Image credit: Paul Burwell)

As the name suggests, the Shimano MW7 XC is an SPD-compatible winter boot for cross-country shredders. It features a Gore-Tex membrane with a fleece lining, lace-free BOA L6 Dial Closure and a neoprene ankle wrap. Is this your best bet for the cold and wet?

Shimano MW7 XC

The BOA dial lets you adjust tension quickly and easily  (Image credit: Paul Burwell)

Design and specifications

The MW7 XC is built onto a lightweight nylon sole, which is coated with the company’s Ultread XC rubber compound. ‘Competition-grade grip that lasts,’ says Shimano and while it’s also one of the hardest we’ve tested, after a few months' riding it’s showing minimal wear. 

Normally with a hard rubber the shoe can skate around on the binding but the scaled pattern in the arch offers sticky traction during a misstep engagement. The sole features an open cleat box, so even running lower-profile Crank Bros cleats we never had trouble clipping in.

The sole has the standard 2-bolt fixing for all cleat types and there are two fixing points on the embedded cleat nuts, allowing you to get the cleat all the way forward or all the way back, depending on your preference. There are also guidelines embossed into the surface, allowing you to replicate the cleat position across both shoes.

Shimano quotes a stiffness rating for its footwear, and the MW7 XC is rated a 7. For comparison, the carbon soled XC7 and XC9 get stiffness figures of 9 and 11 respectively. This number seems totally arbitrary, but this sole is more resilient than the two race shoes and that does translate to greater comfort.

Shimano MW7 XC

The nylon sole is coated with Shimano's Ultread XC rubber compound for 'competition-grade grip' (Image credit: Paul Burwell)

With its open tread, off-the-bike grip is above average but you can increase the toe hold by adding some studs to the fixing points at the front. Shimano includes metal spikes with the top-end shoes mentioned above but oddly not here. Football (soccer) boot studs work and can be bought pretty cheaply, but this is a winter boot and winter riding conditions are going to be worse, so we think studs or the spikes should be included as standard.

To keep the water out and heat in, the MW7 XC features a Gore-Tex membrane with a fleecy liner and gusseted tongue. The waterproof membrane doesn’t quite extend all the way to the top of the boot, so you’ll need a waterproof trouser over the cuff water to keep water running into the top. 

Underneath the cuff is a BOA L6 Dial that lets you increase tension quickly with one hand, but you can also release the tension by just pulling up the dial. You’ll still need to wear gloves to really crank it to higher tension, but the micro-cable is a lot longer than most, making it easier to open up the shoe to get your foot in.

The upper is a wipe clean synthetic and features abrasion resistance areas on both the toe and heel. 

Shimano MW7 XC

You can increase the toe hold by adding some studs to the fixing points at the front, although we think these should be included as standard (Image credit: Paul Burwell)

Performance

Initially, the flap over the dial didn’t sit that flat and dirt would often work its way underneath but after a bit of stretching it did start to fit better. Obviously, you can’t access the dial for on-bike adjustments without loosening the flap, but the BOA is quite sensitive to dirt ingress anyway and the placement of some dials also makes them vulnerable to rock strikes, so keeping it hidden away is a good idea.

With minimal lugs the sole on the MW7 XC is really open and there’s also a ton of cleat clearance, so I experienced very little clogging, even wading through deep clag. The footbed has a slight radius too and this raises the cleat slightly, so it clips in easier.

Up front the MW7 XC has quite a large toe box, which means you can easily wear a thicker wool sock without it cutting off your circulation. For sub-zero rides there are warmer shoes out there but the MW7 XC is a good all-rounder winter boot for changing conditions. It’s lightweight, which matters when you’re carrying round 10-15lbs of mud on your bike and body.

One of the best things about this winter boot is it’s dead easy to get in and out. Some boots especially with zipped sides are a struggle and, when riding, they can also be equally restrictive. Once you’ve closed up shop, the MW7 XC is snug but at the end of a cold wet ride you simply throw back the flap, yank on the dial and you can put your feet up.

Shimano MW7 XC

The Shimano MW7 XC is really easy to get in and out of (Image credit: Paul Burwell)

Verdict

The Shimano MW7 XC could do with a set of spikes, but the minimalist sole has good grip, impressive mud shedding and just the right amount of flex for walking and pedaling comfort. The boot is fully sealed and even through some knee-deep water crossing, I stayed perfectly dry. It’s reasonably lightweight, doesn’t feel restrictive and it opens right up, so you can get your foot in and out quickly. Versatile and user-friendly and fully recommended.

Tech specs: Shimano MW7 XC 2023

  • Price:  $300 / £219.99
  • Weight: 830g (pair)
  • Size: 38-48 (5-13)
  • Rival products: Fizik Terra Clima X2, Giro Blaze
Paul Burwell
Freelance writer

Paul has been testing mountain bikes and products for the best part of 30 years, he’s passed comment on thousands of components and bikes, from the very first 29ers and dropper posts to latest e-MTBs and electronic drivetrains. He first put pen to paper for Mountain Bike International magazine but then contributed to What Mountain Bike, Cycling Today and Cycling Weekly magazines before a  20 year stint at MBR magazine. An ex-elite level XC racer, he’s broken more bones than records but is now sustained on a diet of trail building, skills coaching and e-bike trail shredding.