For most riders, winter shoes are something best left to the fat bikers, but for those who live in colder climates, they’re a necessity. One of my favorite winter shoes is the classic Shimano MW80; it saved me from hours on the trainer (before it was smart), and cold feet. So when I was offered a chance to check out Shimano’s newest flagship winter shoes, the MW702, I jumped at the chance.
Shimano MW702: What’s New?
The Shimano MW702 replaces the outgoing MW701 and expounds on some of the newer features the MW701 brought to the Shimano winter shoe line. The MW702 features an improved BOA L6C enclosure system, fully sheltered by a GORE-TEX lined flap with a Velcro neoprene fastener. The fit is slightly wider than the MW701, better accommodating for winter-weight socks and toe warmers. Plus, the outer sole gets Shimano Ultread rubber and deeper lugs to offer a better grip in icy and wet conditions.
It’s cool to see that the design from the original and early versions of the shoe is present in the MW-DNA. You can see some similarities to the Shimano MW81 (below), my first introduction to winter cycling shoes, and a piece of kit I’ve used for years.
The heel retention wasn’t the best, but the overall performance was unrivaled at the time.
Key Features: Shimano MW702
- Wraparound shield with tall cuff shuts out water to keep feet drier when and wherever you ride
- Waterproof GORE-TEX Insulated Comfort liner keeps feet warm and dry in cold and wet weather
- Generous amount of cleat adjustment for fore and aft positioning
- Toe spike compatible, though they do not come with any
- Lightweight Shimano Ultread rubber outsole delivers a competition-grade grip that lasts
- Low stack height midsole helps stabilize the foot and makes changing from winter to regular cycling footwear less of an adjustment
- BOA L6C dial makes winter wearing easy with a wide-open release and quick micro-adjustments with gloves
- Fleece-lined insole for added insulation and heat retention over long rides and hikes
- 360-degree reflectivity for high visibility; excellent for commuting and dark winter riding
- Sizes: Wide: 38-48 (43 tested)
- Stiffness: 7 out of 11 (Shimano’s SH-XC902 is an 11)
- 500 g per pair (size 43 tested)
- Price: $300
First Impressions: Shimano MW702
When the MW702s came across my desk, the weather in Pittsburgh was starting to get cold. It was extra-thick overshoes time — or time to commit to a full-blown winter shoe. After a particularly frigid week, I decided there was no better time than now to get this rolling and set off for winter mode.
When I first tried on the MW702s, I could tell the fit was slightly different. The “inner shoe” fits slightly like an older Nordic ski boot, having a lower profile and good heel retention. The new BOA enclosure makes it easy to open the shoe wide and get your foot in, even with toe warmers stuck to the forefoot.
I usually ride in a 42.5-inch SH-XC902, and since the new MW702 only comes in full sizes, I went with the 43 for the extra room.
Shimano MW702: Fit and Dial In
The Shimano MW702 has a slightly wider fit than the MW701, and the sizing comes in wide only. If you’re riding with winter-weight socks, this extra room fills up fast, but there is enough wiggle room to keep airflow open for cold toes. The BOA dial is a single knob for each foot and does an excellent job of keeping the foot in place without cutting off circulation.
The MW702 had slightly more fore and aft cleat adjustment than the shoes I swapped. The distinctly different feel from an XC race shoe to a winter shoe was enough to stay calm about the cleat position, and I found a nice middle ground quicker than I would have thought. The stack of the MW702 is slightly higher (like most winter footwear), and I went up about half a centimeter on my seatpost to keep the same position.
The fit and overall feel of the MW702 is comfortable and roomy, but the BOA cinches down nicely without creating hot spots. The inner boot has a secure feel, like a low-cut traditional cycling shoe. The flex and movement of the MW702 are as natural as a cycling boot can offer. The thin Gore-Tex material keeps it easy to make natural pedaling motions — something that’s not great in more robust winter cycling footwear. The cut of the ankle cuff from Gore-Tex to neoprene is in the perfect place for exaggerated movements (like climbing up an icy hill) to feel uninhibited.
On the Bike
On the bike, the Shimano MW702 became a quick training friend: warm, waterproof, and comfortable for many winter miles. I never wanted more warmth from the MW702, with at most using a chemical-style heater and my Rapha winter socks (I love those things!) to keep warm. My coldest day out was Pittsburgh’s cold blast with a -10 degree wind chill. My feet were warm, though I only spent a small amount of time on the road and most of my time in the woods.
When you first put on the MW702 and tighten them down, that’s only the initial tightening. After moving around a bit, you need to snug up the BOA again for the final pre-ride tighten. Though I like my shoes super tight, others might not be as picky.
If you’re looking for winter training, commuting, and something that will last for many seasons, this is your shoe. The extra volume in the shoe allows for better movements and blood flow to the feet. The torsional and lateral stiffness is more on the recreational side, but these are winter shoes. The semi-flexible sole is nice when you’re off the bike hiking unrideable climbs, trail features, or just slogging through the snow. If you’re looking for full-on winter racing footwear … you may want to keep your XC race shoes on and invest in mega-thick overshoes.
The $300 price is what I expect from a shoe of this quality, and I believe it’s worth the money. The craftsmanship is top-notch, and if my older Shimano winter shoes indicate life expectancy, these will be around for many seasons.
My only gripe is the stock insoles were fleece-lined but lacked any support or protection from the cold coming from underneath. I’ve enjoyed other winter shoe manufacturers including aerogel insoles that help from the coldness of the cleat seeping into the footbed. I swapped the stock insoles for the 45NRTH Jaztronaut Aerogel insoles I used in my last winter shoes.
The Shimano MW702 is it if you’re looking for trustworthy winter training, fat bike racing, commuting, and an all-around comfy cold-weather shoe. The MW702 has been a pleasure to train and ride in over the winter months. I’m impressed with the slight updates’ impressive impact on performance — mainly the entire GORE-TEX enclosed BOA drape. I recommend looking for a local shop with a pair in stock to judge sizing because the fit is generous accurately, and it could be a thin line between roomy and oversize.