The Shimano MW7 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?
Design and specifications
The MW7 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 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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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.
The Shimano MW7 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
- Price: $300 / £219.99
- Weight: 830g (pair)
- Size: 38-48 (5-13)
- Rival products: Fizik Terra Clima X2, Giro Blaze