I got a pair of Shimano MW80 winter bike shoes for Christmas and CCrew asked me how they were. At the time, we were having mild weather, so I said I would post a mini review once the weather turned colder again.
We're back to winter weather now, so I thought I would post my thoughts. First, a little background... My toes seem to be particularly sensitive to the cold as it's the only body part I can't keep warm when the temps are below freezing. I've tried double (and even triple) layer socks, wind-proof socks, loose fitting shoes, neoprene booties, hiking boots with platforms, you name it. My toes are fine for the first hour or so, but the numbness eventually settles in during the second hour of my commute. Double socks in my loosest fitting SPDs with neoprene booties was the only combination that worked for me, but I hated putting on the neoprene booties each time I rode.
So, with that in mind, I was eager to try out the MW80s. They're a little bigger than my normal shoes to accommodate extra socks. I've ridden about 200 miles in temps ranging from 15F to 40F (yeah, I know, that's not cold for some of you, but it's typical winter here). About 50 of these miles were in the rain, 50 in dry weather below freezing, and 100 in the snow.
These shoes are very comfortable both on and off the bike. They walk like normal shoes with the SPD cleats recessed enough that they don't contact the floor.
They kept my feet mostly dry in the rain. Eventually water did get in, but even then, my feet were warm. Snow was not a problem at all, as my feet stayed dry while walking in the snow.
With double socks, they work about as well as my other shoes with neoprene booties. That is, I can ride in 15F for about 90 minutes before my toes get cold, and after 2 hours, they're cold but not numb.
The top of the boot has a velcro flap where the "hooked" side of the velcro is on the inside. This flap always manages to fold down when I put my feet in causing the velcro to attach firmly to my socks. Not a big deal, but it makes putting on the boots slightly annoying.
If you get these boots wet, it takes a LONG time to dry them out. After a 2 hour ride in the rain, it took about a day before they were dry again (with insole removed and placed on top of a warm radiator).
They're certainly a better solution than what I had, but I was half expecting my toes would be "toasty" on a 2-hour ride at 15F. They're not quite that warm (at least, not for me), but all in all, I like them.
Thanks Jeff, good review. Scared me off spending the $ . My toes and my fingers just plain suffer below about 20 degrees, although I think I have the finger part licked. It's definitely the shoes I'm wearing as Fridays ride in I was on the MTB using a nice pair of BMX meat tenderizer platform pedals and my Merrell hiking boots, and was toasty as can be.
Funny you reviewed these today. I literally just finished ordering a pair from Cambria Bike Outfitters (http://www.cambriabike.com), where they're on sale.
I've gotten annoyed at the short life of a pair of shoe covers. I've about worn out a pair in just the last month: the toes and heels are badly worn through in spots and the seams are starting to come apart. And they're not exacly a cheap pair, either. At $40/pair for shoe covers (give or take), at that rate it won't take long for the SH-MW80s to pay for themselves.
At least that's what I'm telling the wife, er, myself.
Yeah, I know what you mean. I was on my second pair of shoe covers and those were starting to give out too. That was one of the reasons I wanted the boots. Shoe covers are fine for the occasional cold or wet ride, but if you use them every day, they wear out quickly. In the long run, they can cost more than a good pair of winter boots.
My SH-MW80s were delivered Friday, too late for my commute, but I did get a 30-mile ride in them yesterday.
They're exactly as advertised. I haven't tested them in a full-fledged rainstorm yet, but there was a lot of melt water yesterday, and the MW80s sure kept my feet warm and dry. All without having to mess around with shoe covers nor wear holes in them for the times when I had to dismount to get past the few still-icy patches.
The MW80s don't seem any warmer than a good shoe/shoe cover combo and might even run a bit cooler, which isn't surprising given the MW80's one layer is replacing the multiple layers of shoe and shoe cover. But even though I haven't really tested it, I suspect the MW80s would be a lot more waterproof, as with the MW80s there's no way for water to creep around the edges of the holes in the bottom of a shoe cover.
And if it's really cold or wet, you can always put shoe covers on the MW80s. I'd think that would be much, much warmer and dryer than standard shoes and shoe covers, and should be good enough to handle any conditions.
In my opinion, one huge advantage of the MW80 is not having to use shoe covers in situations that result in extremely short shoe cover life. Another advantage is not having to deal with shoe covers at all.
I'm not sure how slow the shoes are to dry out, but FWIW my normal biking shoes don't exactly dry fast, either.
The MW80 is definitely a niche product, but if you need to fill that niche, it does so nicely. And while expensive, they're cheaper than replacing shoe covers every month or two.
- No wet feet so far. But I've only seen snow and slush, no downpours yet.
- About as warm as my summer MTB shoes with a 5mm neoprene bootie. Give or take.
- Low prices on line, and I already knew my shimano shoe size.
- Stickier lugs than race shoes mean less chance of taking a dive on my wet basement steps.
- Just enough flex in the sole to make walking almost pleasant.
- The velcro on the cuff just has to stick to my overpriced smartwool socks EVERYTIME I put them on.
- No optional toe studs. Something commuters aren't likely to miss, but on my first MTB ride, I did.
- If the cuff came a bit higher it would give a better seal with rainpants.
- Just enough flex in the sole to offend my snooty racer-boy sensibilities.
A year later, no major changes.
I made some gaitors out of a wasted pair of overboots for to seal the gap between the top of the shoes and the bottom of by pant legs, but I really only need them in heavier rain. With these, my feet stay absolutely dry.
I continue to lament the lack of toe studs, now that my commute involves clamoring up a grassy slope to save a half mile of riding.
I put in 35 miles today in my SH-MW80s, in about a 38F rain. Not a hard rain, but there was enough standing water to keep my shoes and lower legs dripping in water as I was riding with no fenders.
My feet stayed totally dry. No a drop got in through the cleat holes and no water seeped down between the shoe cuff and my wet-weather tights. That's a huge improvement over my previous wet rides with booties/shoe covers, where after about an hour or so water would be seeping up from around the bottom of the shoe covers.
I'd also say the SH-MW80s are not quite as warm as booties over shoes, despite being a lot more waterproof. So in dry weather, they won't keep your feet quite as warm, which isn't surprising as the layering effect is lost.
Overall, a wonderful product if you want to bike in the wet, keep your feet even drier then before, and not wear out a pair of booties every 4 to 6 weeks.