Crossover trail shoes that's equal parts XC and DH
The Shimano ME5 SPD shoe straddles the line between XC race style disco-slipper and DH casual in a package designed around trail riding.
It can sometimes be hard to find a pair of SPD shoes that straddle the line between XC race style disco-slipper and DH casual. If you are someone who likes to just get out and ride, maybe even dabble in a little longer distance off-road exploring; you kind of just want a shoe that rolls all those features into one. The Shimano ME5 SPD is just such a shoe.
Shimano ME5 SPD Shoe Review
Born as part of Shimano’s Mountain Enduro (ME) range, the 5 blends a robust upper with a sole unit designed to give great off-bike grip as well as reasonable levels of stiffness for pedalling efficiency. The fit is typically Shimano, i.e. most of us will need to go up a size. It’s plenty wide enough, just Shimano shoes tend to come up a little short on length. The styling is a good blend between ‘enduro gnarr’ and ‘xc disco’. It’s nice to have a shoe without loads of differing colours, so the Shimano ME5 will appeal to those riders who just like to blend in.
Attention on retention
But it’s the retention methods that, in my opinion, really let the side down. Here it’s two separate issues that really vex me. One I could just about cope with, but two pretty much tips me over the edge. Firstly, whoever decided to place a velcro strap that closes inwards towards the crank arm has (again in my opinion) has obviously never had to ride in thick gloopy mud. Almost instantly the short section of overlapping material catches the crank arm with every revolution. This is pretty annoying, not only does this damage the velcro but also results in wear to your crank arms.
Secondly, Shimano has switched the ratchet around to put the mechanism on the flap. It’s quite a small change but it makes using it a little counter-intuitive, I lost count of the number of times I almost snapped the release button trying to pull it up to tighten the shoe. I appreciate that most riders might not have such an issue as myself, my feet are quite low volume so somebody with a larger foot might not end up with any velcro overlap. Plus most people probably have a better grasp of the ratchet system – my brain is programmed a certain way after using so many pairs of shoes with a ‘normal’ ratchet!
Issues aside, the ME5 is actually a really comfortable shoe to live with. The sole has almost the right stiffness to flex ratio for its intended use (everything bar XC racing) and the padded ankle keeps everything in place with comfort to spare. Another neat touch is the asymmetric styling of the ankle to help protect your vulnerable ankle bone from smashing against the crank arm, especially useful when performing some particularly ‘rad’ moves.
If the grey version tested here has too much of a sci-fi look for you, Shimano also produce the ME5 in stealthy all-black.
The Shimano ME5 should be an excellent shoe for trail riding and gravity based shenanigans, but one or two flaws really stop it in its tracks.