Rather than using fancy dial closures, Shimano have sensibly stuck with three broad velcro straps and a wraparound neoprene top collar. That means there's no laces or fiddly dials to fumble around with, and nothing to seize with mud, break or pop open if you clout a rock.
You can’t do them up as tight as you could with a dial though, and they feel relaxed and comfy rather than racey, but that’s a welcome relief in terms of sustained circulation and comfort.
Weight is kept to a minimum by using moulded glass fibre for the outer sole (our slightly muddy size 44s weighed 1,100g). This makes for a super-stiff pedalling platform with minimal flex. The tread is aggressively cut and offers plenty of grip for hike-a-bike while being wide enough to shed mud quickly.
The inner sole’s finished off with a fleece lining making these incredibly warm boots. They’re cosy down to freezing point and thin socks have proved to be enough on frosty morning rides.
Water is kept at bay with a mix of treated leather and a Gore-Tex lining. The lining fends off puddle splashes while still allowing feet to breathe and not get too sweaty, and is waterproof for as long as you can stop water coming in the top – which is as much as you can really expect. To keep seepage around the ankle to a minimum there’s an easily adjustable and comfortable Neoprene cuff. Make sure this is tight – the weak point of any waterproof shoe is the large hole with your foot in it. The boots dry quickly when they do get wet.
Some non-Shimano branded cleats are a little tight in the recess making it awkward to clip in and out, but if you intend to pair these with Shimano pedals this won’t be an issue. The lugs appear to be hardwearing and traction can be increased with the addition of studs at the toe end.