Shimano M163 trail shoes offer sensible flex, tenacious grip

Mid-range shoes hit sweet spot between stiff XC kicks and heavy DH boots

Shimano is celebrating its 25th anniversary of SPD pedals and cleats with some commemorative gear. The relatively new M163 trail shoes are among the anniversary-gear lineup, but the $150 / £99 / AU$TBC shoes stand on their own with a few unique features.

The M163s are part of Shimano's so-called TORBAL line (for torsion/balance), which offers substantial torsional flex to keep contact with the pedals without torquing on your feet when you're leaning the bike. The plastic sole has enough give to be hike-a-bike friendly while still delivering your pedal power to the drivetrain. 

Speaking of hike-a-bike, a soft rubber tread runs the length of the sole.  Additionally, parallel rubber blocks on either side of the cleat deliver stability on the pedal.  

TORBAL is shimano's term for torsion/balance and refers to the shoe's torsional flex: torbal is shimano's term for torsion/balance and refers to the shoe's torsional flex
TORBAL is shimano's term for torsion/balance and refers to the shoe's torsional flex: torbal is shimano's term for torsion/balance and refers to the shoe's torsional flex

A straightforward ratchet buckle secures the fit with opposing Velcro straps. Whether the cross-strap has any effect or not is debatable, but the uppers themselves do move easily with the foot under flex, so that when when sole twists so too does the whole shoe, not just the foot inside.

There is good protection for the toe box and the heel, with some safeguarding along the sides, too.

The M163s offer a whopping 3cm of fore/aft cleat adjustability, thanks to easily reversible and sliding backing plates and little plugs that fill in the gaps to keep muck out of your shoes.

However you like to set your cleats, plugs keep the muck out: however you like to set your cleats, plugs keep the muck out
However you like to set your cleats, plugs keep the muck out: however you like to set your cleats, plugs keep the muck out

While this 25th anniversary edition is gray, the M163s also come in black. 

These size 45 samples weigh 876g for the pair.

Check back soon for a full review.  

Shimano ain't new to this game, people: shimano ain't new to this game, people
Shimano ain't new to this game, people: shimano ain't new to this game, people

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team, Trek Boone 5, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4, Marinoni fixed gear, Santa Cruz Roadster TT bike
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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