Australian Mountain Bike - - Tested - WORDS: MIKE BLEWITT IM­AGES: DAVE ACREE

At the end of win­ter Shi­mano sent me a pair of their lat­est footwear. Not the flash new grav­ity shoes, or an up­dated trail boot – but the XC5. A cou­ple of steps be­low the XC9 (or S-Phyre) tested a cou­ple of is­sues back, the XC5 fills a dif­fer­ent role. Shi­mano claim the XC5 is a multi-sur­face shoe, mean­ing they suit some moun­tain bik­ing, maybe tour­ing (called bikepack­ing these days), gravel rid­ing or road if you use an SPD pedal. Lack­ing a full-car­bon re­in­forced mid-sole, they're not about to be an XC World Cup race shoe. And with­out the sup­port that gives, and built in pro­tec­tion, they don't suit all-moun­tain and en­duro use. The sur­prise was, I tend to reach for the XC5 for most of my rid­ing. Here's why.


Be­cause there isn't a race-stiff­ness sole turned up to 11 (and be­yond) for pure rigid­ity, the XC5 is a very com­fort­able shoe to ride in, and spend time in off the bike. So for a so­cial ride or ca­sual event, or an all day out on and off bikes, you for­get they are even there. The lace up clo­sure has a lit­tle to do with this, as it does give a lit­tle, so the shoes don't have the same se­cure fit like a race shoe does af­ter a few hours. But you can cinch up the laces if that's a prob­lem. The syn­thetic leather is soft, and mal­leable enough that pres­sure points, even on a boat-width foot like my own, were rarely a prob­lem.


Ok so they're not re­ally built for speed. Laces are slow. But they have this mini power strap part which ac­tu­ally makes tak­ing them off, and tight­en­ing them up faster than you think. And the built in loops keep the laces at bay. And that mid­sole is still car­bon re­in­forced, just not in the same way the XC7 or XC9 are. I have hap­pily used these in cy­clocross events, and club XC races. I also used them for a day of rid­ing at Blue Derby and even May­dena.


- Com­fort on and off the bike - Plenty of trac­tion when walk­ing - Style for miles


- May not have the stiff­ness or pro­tec­tion you need



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