The MP66s were originally designed for Shimano’s BMX line, but it didn’t take long for mountain bikers to realise the benefits of having stiff but walkable shoes with trainer styling, lace-protection flaps and built-in ankle supports. Now they crop up everywhere from cross-country races to Alpine mountain passes.
You’ll either love or loathe the ‘football boot meets winklepicker’ look of the shoe, but we recommend it highly for its performance on almost any kind of trail – which is why you’ll find them anywhere that mountain bikers are.
Available with white or black uppers, the shoes have proven to be massively strong, and have resisted any attempts we’ve made to kill them with bouts of rock kicking, submersion in murky Welsh mud and miles and miles of walking. After 1,000 miles of abuse, there’s barely a mark on them.
The lace-up closure means the fit is almost always good, and the big lace covers, which give the shoes their distinctive look, also keep the laces safe from chainrings. The flaps also serve to deflect a lot of the rain and water that would soak regular footwear.
The thick uppers do increase heat, so the MP66s can be sweaty in the sun. Conversely, we’ve worn them in the freezing snow and they still kept our toes warm.
That said, they’re not waterproof, especially in the cleat area, which needs a bit of heavy-duty gaffer tape over the sealing sticker to keep water out. However, they still shrug off wet conditions impressively well.
There are rare occasions when the MP66s aren’t the best – slippery mud foxes the low rubber pimples on the outsoles, and long hours on small cross-country pedals can mean you end up feeling the platforms.
But, mostly, we won’t be parted from these trainer-cum-bowling shoes. They’re available in clipless or flat versions, although the latter models are a bit harder to track down.