Sizes: 36-48 / Fibreglass reinforced midsole / Optional studs / Micro-adjust buckle
Contact: Madison www.ultimatepursuits.co.uk
The M181 is Shimano’s second-string race-style shoe. Visually it’s pretty similar to the M225, the more expensive (by £30) model featuring an even stiffer carbon sole. Having clambered up numerous muddy banks in the M181s this winter we’ve found there’s still an element of heel-lift, so for anything other than all-out XC racing we’d be happy with this slightly flexier model. The tread design clears well but after any mud plugging it can build up around the cleat. Studs are an option but in our opinion the blankers included are too big and too slippery. We’d prefer some that sit flush with the sole. The main strap is secured with a new ratchet system, which is easy to operate with cold hands, and has proved reliable. Two Velcro straps at the front of the foot are offset to avoid pressure points. The M181s are comfortable, good-looking and efficient shoes that at £85 are pretty good value.
MBR RATING: 8/10