Shimano MW81 winter boots review£159.99

Simple but effective

BikeRadar score4/5

Shimano’s simple but effective MW81 boots are a comfy and cosy option for clipless winter cruising.

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. 

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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