The Shimano shoes are very light for a mountain bike shoe, beating much of the competition at this pricepoint. Reinforced sides, heels and toes make them just as tough as most others here, and the fibreglass-bolstered nylon sole makes them feel as stiff under pressure as most carbon-soled race shoes we’ve tested.
With screw-in toe studs provided, the soles are grippy underfoot on loose ground but the mid-density rubber lugs made them slippery on hard, wet surfaces. Shimano describes the XC50 as “competition quality off-road shoes at a sport level price”, and we wouldn’t argue with that.
The dual-position ratcheted buckle and two offset Velcro straps provide a foot-hugging fit with no obvious pressure points. Combined with the minimal weight and impressive sole stiffness, this makes them feel instantly at home in speed-focused scenarios and also suitable for moonlighting on a road bike.
The reflective flashes on the heels are far bigger than on any of the other shoes here too. In short, while they’re the most conservative-looking shoes of those tested and not the best when it comes to time off the bike, we can’t fault them in terms of features and pedalling performance.