The new Shimano XC5 gravel road bike shoe debuted at Interbike, and where we got the full rundown directly from their product manager. We picked up a pair and have been using them for all sorts of rides since, and they’ve proven far more versatile than billed. We’ve also noticed a few details they didn’t mention at the launch, or at least figured out how some of those details actually work.

Shimano XC5 review covers the details of their newest gravel road bike shoe including actual weights

Here’s the material basics: The upper is synthetic, micro-perforated leather that’s shaped around their Dynalast foot mold. In our past experience, this means ample toe box room and a comfortable, all-day fit, and these lived up to expectations. The bottom is a composite sole with carbon-reinforced mid-sole section to add stiffness under the pedal, but allow flex in front of and behind it for easier walking.

Shimano XC5 review covers the details of their newest gravel road bike shoe including actual weights

The entire bottom is coated in Michelin rubber, which grips any surface I walked on in the course of road, gravel and singletrack rides. Tread blocks front and rear, plus reinforced toe-spike mounts, add extra traction on loose stuff.

Shimano XC5 review covers the details of their newest gravel road bike shoe including actual weights

Up front is a two-step toe bumper, and the heel has a reflective strip.

how much does the shimano xc5 gravel road bike shoe weigh

Shimano claims a size 42 is 301g. My size 47 test pair hit the scale at 354g with just a tiny bit of dirt still on the treads. This is reasonably light, especially for a shoe with a full rubber tread on the bottom and no mesh in the upper. Well done.

Shimano XC5 review covers the details of their newest gravel road bike shoe including actual weights

Also worth pointing out: The lace holes are flat, which keeps the laces laying flat and lookin’ tight.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is the MPS, or Mini Power Strap. Shimano says it’s there to hold your foot in place. What I found was that it does a remarkable job of holding two separate tension levels between mid-foot and fore-foot. On my first ride, I used even lacing tension all the way up and my forefoot was falling asleep. Next ride, I loosened up the front up to the MPS, then pulled the upper laces tighter to keep my feet securely in the shoes. Perfect, and it’s stayed that way since…which is a real trick that really helps customize the fit to your feet.

Riding Impressions of the Shimano XC5

Shimano XC5 review covers the details of their newest gravel road bike shoe including actual weights

I’ve ridden these shoes on road, gravel and singletrack, but only on drop bar bikes. Besides the fit, what I like about them is that they work good on all those things. The sole is stiff enough for moderately spirited rides, which is mostly what I do. Racers looking for every performance advantage will want something stiffer. But for general riding, I think they’re great for xc and trail riding, touring, and gravel. Maybe even cyclocross, especially on courses with lots of run ups and dismounts. This versatility has made it easier for me to pack on trips, because I don’t need “road” and “mtb” and “gravel” shoes if we’re going to be doing all that, I can just bring these.

The one caveat on putting too much slack in the front of the laces, is that the laces can end up with bows a little bit too short. As shown above, they just barely meet the elastic lace garage. They routinely fell out, but were short enough not to get caught in the gears or chain. So, maybe sort of a non-issue, but worth paying attention to.

Basically, they’re stiff enough for enthusiastic riding, but still walkable for coffee stops, hike-a-bikes, or river crossings. They come in black (tested) and light gray, each with two colors of laces (orange being the other). Retail is $150 (but REI already has them on sale). If you’re looking for a do-it-all multi-surface cycling shoe, give this one a hard look.


      • TheKaiser on

        Yeah, as Antoine alluded to, these things have a heavier tread pattern than most XC shoes. Those lugs are similar in size and shape to most XC shoes, plus the entire sole is covered in rubber, whereas many XC shoes only have panels of tread in the front and back, with bare carbon or plastic in the arch area to save weight.

  1. chris wood on

    look like a perfect set of commuter shoes to me. enough grip for stopping at lights and a bit of walking, but not so much rubber to make them heavy. and the styling for me is spot on.

  2. Marc L on

    Because I’m not a lace guy (like to tweak fit as my feet swell), I recently bought a pair of the next-model Xc7s and to Tyler’s point they are ideal gravel shoes: lighter and stiffer than a full-blown trail shoe, and with less scuff protection than I’d like for long hike-a-bikes.

    I’m not a road racer so am happy to trade a bit of efficiency for the ability to walk and scramble over the odd gate comfortably and for all of my bikes using the same pedals. So even if we all want to roll our eyes when we hear “gravel shoe,” it is great to have more options for reasonably-priced, lighter-weight 2-bolt riding shoes. (And no, I don’t miss my 3-bolt shoes one bit.)

  3. Exodux on

    When are we going to get beyond this trendy laced up shoe thing? Is there really that many people out there who cannot dial in a desired fit with Velcro, buckles or Boa type dials?
    I usually don’t complain on this site, and to not being Bike Rumors fault, I think laced up bike shoes are the stupidest idea to come back from the early 80’s.
    As far as gravel specific or mtb, I really don’t think it matters. I ran a light XC shoe for races and trail specific Giro Terradura for everything else.

    • Carl on

      Velcro sucks, buckles are imprecise, boa is complicated (compared to a lace), and the latter two require hardware that is just asking to be bashed on a rock and get broken. Giro sells laces for $6.00, I’m not sure how much a boa costs. A side benefit is that a good lace-up shoe looks nice and clean, so at least you can look fast even if you’re slow 😉

      In the cycling world, what’s old is new again of course, and I may be a bit of a fanboy, but I’ve used both the Giro Code and Empire VR90 and found the Empire to be much more comfortable than it’s strap-and-buckle counterpart, much easier to get adjusted right the first time, and have yet to need any repairs on the Empire but have had the buckle system get jammed and damaged more times than I can count.

      • Crash Bandicoot on

        My wife has sub 6s from specialized she’s had numerous multi boa-dialed shoes and non of them jive with her high instep and toenail issues. I make fun of her for this then she makes fun of me because she’s won big state road races and cries and the last time I won a race the two other guys dnf’d because of flat tires. Anyhow, there is a need for these but it’s really for specific foot types; boa dials and ratchets are superior.

      • Werewolf on

        Boas i don’t think are too complicated, spin one way tighten spin the other loosen and the buckles i never found them to be imprecise. But to each their own.

      • mtb4me on

        Boa is complicated…!!? Do tell or otherwise please enroll in Boa College to get a comprehensive overview on the complexities of Boa that you seem to be challenged with….meh

    • Burke Culligan on

      There seem to enough different types of shoe closures for whichever one any person would prefer (eg: lace types tend to help folks with wider feet) — why the need to complain about something that many folks out there seem to like. Modern bike marketing (and it’s all about the marketing) is all about finding whatever generates sales — carbon frames (or steel); tire sizes, wheel sizes, seat shapes, gear ratios, whatever — find what you like and prefer — and applaud others for doing the same — whatever gets someone to ride more is the right thing.

    • Zee on

      I’m done with Boa. I will have replaced one of the dials 3 times and the other 4 times on this pair of shoes once they arrive in the mail. Sure the replacements are free, but in the mean time (again) I’m with straps that constantly loosen up. I will gladly go back to a ratchet system (which could also break), but with laces I’ll just wander down to the local Target and buy some new ones.

  4. Kernel Flickitov on

    Yeah laces. So the fck what, Exodux. It ain’t just about you. So you “don’t usually complain”, but these laces, man… Weird, really though.

      • Kernel Flickitov on

        Look back at the last several years and see what segment of the bike industry grew the most. Gravel and ebikes. Like it or not.

    • i on

      That just goes to show, even Grant Petersen doesn’t know everything.
      It’s difficult for me to imagine anyone ever having tried riding a bike with bike shoes not finding them more comfortable than whatever Grant wears when riding.

  5. typevertigo on

    Nice! These look like a slightly stiffer version of the MT5 mountain touring shoes I run. The XC5s are rated a 7 on Shimano’s 12-point stiffness scale, while the MT5s are rated a 4.

    The MT5s do have larger tread lugs compared to these, so would be better for proper mud-plugging hike-a-bikes. I quite dig the XC5s, though. They have an aesthetic closer to my old RT33 road-touring shoes and have better stiffness – they might be the ticket for long-distance road rides on SPD cleats.

  6. Loki on

    I was going to point out that growth does not necessarily mean market share but then saw that Pinarello has just released a. road. ebike. Wow. All bets are off…

  7. autonomy on

    Ahh, that opening image is giving me nightmares. Laces getting snagged by the sprocket! (yeah, I know the shoes have lace keepers, but still… they’ll work themselves lose)

  8. Speshy on

    Am I the only one on the fave of the planet earth who has had a shoelace gey caught in chainring only to jave tjeir shin impaled by a pedal? I feel like I’m on crazy pills here.

  9. Jeff on

    I’ve had these since an early release to back in August. Raced a few XC races, and absolutely loved them. Was worried about the laces loosening mid-race. Simply never happened. Was WAY better than my previous Giro buckles and Velcro. Incredibly comfortable once diled in on the tightness in the toe-box. Honestly, I really only loosen the back two or three laces for on / off. They’re easier and more consistently comfortable than any buckle shoe. No hot spots. The toe spikes (added separately) were vital this wet n muddy Cyclocross season, but they performed admirably at CX as I expected.

    Winter is here, so more robust warmer shoe is coming into play. But these guys outperformed my expectations. The laces simply work. Very well. Hipster crap aside, cuz I ain’t one.


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