Shimano continues to improve their successful line of shoes for flat pedal riders, and during testing, the GR7 proved itself as one of the best all-around mountain bike flat pedal shoes. These top-performing shoes feel great right out of the box, grip the pedal pins with authority, and have ample traction for hike-a-bike sections. The GR7 is a solid choice for all-mountain riders, at home on mellow cross country rides, long climbs, technical descents and even for light downhill.
Shimano GR7 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Super comfortable, good pedal grip, solid durability
Cons: Less grip than Five Ten's soles
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Shimano GR7 has all the features you'd expect in a top-performing mountain bike shoe. With a winning combination of high performance and a relatively low price, the GR7 is an excellent value. The shoe is built on a Michelin rubber outsole, has a combination synthetic upper with perforations and mesh for additional breathability, a protective ankle collar, oval lace eyelets and even a stretchy lace keeper loop. No more tucking and retucking laces in!
When you're riding with flat mountain bike pedals, a shoe's sole and its grip is a key feature. The Shimano GR7 is equipped with a new sticky rubber sole from Michelin. It seems pretty logical that Shimano chose to collaborate with Michelin. While relatively new to the world of mountain bike shoes, Michelin has an almost 150-year history of producing tires and rubber products. The sole pattern has a wider-spaced and more aggressive tread pattern toward the toe and heel of the shoe, which helps with traction when you're walking and in hike-a-bike sections. Not surprisingly, the pattern resembles that of a light truck tire and provides decent traction even in loose conditions. We found the Michelin sole provided better traction than the sticky dot rubber soles of the Five Ten Freerider Pro when we were off the bike. In keeping with the tire theme, the main pedal contact portion of the GR7's sole is similar to a mountain bike tire pattern. The soles provide a solid interface between rider and pedals, gripping the pins firmly. While the rubber does have a sticky feel, other shoes we tested, primarily all of the Five Ten models, are noticeably stickier to the touch. Shimano also widened the GR7's last through the arch and forefoot, which increases surface area and pedal contact area. The Michelin soles may be the Goldilocks of our test — not too sticky, but just right. Fine-tuning foot position on the pedal is easier with the GR7 than shoes like the Five Ten Freerider Contact. While Five Ten seems to have the market cornered when it comes to sticky rubber compounds, this shoe still performed solidly, scoring an 8 out of 10 for grip. The GR7 rubber holds more securely to the pedal than other shoes like the Afton Keegan or Five Ten Sleuth.
Shimano scores high marks on comfort with the all-mountain GR7. At first glance, one of the first things we noticed, other than the bright green accent color, was the neoprene collar around the opening of the shoe. We wondered if it might put too much pressure on the achilles tendon, but once the shoe is slipped on, we quickly forgot about the collar. Once we started riding through loose sand, pine needles and slushy snow, it was a welcome addition to the shoe. Even while walking through shin-deep spring snow, the collar kept our feet drier and more comfortable. When slipping the shoes on, we noticed the shoe is generously padded around the opening. The fit of the GR7 is medium overall, with a somewhat wider forefoot that is intended to give a more forgiving feel, as well as provide better pedal grip. The majority of the shoe's upper is a synthetic material that looks like it might be fairly stiff, but we found it was actually pretty forgiving right out of the box. Shimano also wisely perforated the upper across a good portion of the shoe's toebox. Another nice addition to the toebox is a molded protective toecap, along with a rubber reinforcement that merges with the shoe's sole. Since it's spring, we weren't able to test the shoes on any really hot days, but found the GR7 provided plenty of ventilation to keep our feet cool into the upper 70's. The sides of the shoe have durable mesh inserts to further add ventilation. For warmer weather riding, the GR7 provides a cooler ride than the Five Ten Freerider Pro which doesn't have the comfy mesh inserts. The shoe's tongue is amply padded with foam and keeps the pressure low when the shoes are tightly laced. Shimano also included an insole with added arch support built in. We noticed this added to the support both on and off the bike. As far as comfort goes, the GR7 is tough to beat. The shoe performs similarly to more aggressive models, but with a more casual feel like the Five Ten Freerider. If all-day comfort, both on and off the bike, is something you're hoping to find, look no further.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
When it comes to rigidity and power transfer, Shimano seems to have found a happy medium here as well. Even though the GR7 isn't the stiffest shoe in our lineup, our testers didn't note any loss of power when they were climbing and felt they performed just as well as the stiffer shoes in our test. We were able to feel the pedal underfoot, but just slightly, and it didn't seem to detract from the ride at all. When cornering on the downhill, the GR7 maintains a solid connection to the pedal pins and one benefit of the more flexible sole is in the walking comfort of the shoe. With its degree of rigidity, the GR7 seems to have found a happy place in both riding performance and walking comfort and performance.
In comparison to the other shoes in our test lineup, the Shimano GR7 is the same weight as most models. Across our entire range of tested shoes, there is only a one-ounce difference between lightest, the Five Ten Freerider Contact at 13.75 oz, and the heaviest, the Giro Riddance at 16oz.
As we've already mentioned under the "Comfort" section, the Shimano GR7 also scores high marks in this metric with a score of 7 out of 10. When compared to other shoes in our test stable, the GR7 outperforms above-average breathability of the Five Ten Freerider Contact and Five Ten Freerider. The combination of perforations across the toe and the breathable mesh side panels guarantee your feet won't meltdown on those hot weather rides. Along with the hydrophobic nature of the GR7's materials, the breathability encourages speedy drying of the shoes after rainy rides, creek crossings, and mud puddle riding. Although the GR7 has a high degree of breathability, our feet stayed comfortable while wearing a midweight wool sock on a 30-degree windy day. Another happy medium for Shimano: breathable, but not TOO breathable. The GR7 is a true all-arounder, no matter where you ride.
Even though we can't attest to the long-term durability of our tested shoes, we are able to look at the durability over the course of a couple of months of hard use. The soles of the Shimano GR7 looked no worse for wear after our testing was wrapped up. This is likely due to the slightly firmer rubber compound that Michelin uses versus the softer and grippier Five Ten rubber. Our previous Editors' Choice, the FIve Ten Freerider Contact, is at the other end of the durability spectrum with its super sticky yet somewhat fragile pedal contact area. When we look at the uppers of the GR7, the synthetic materials appear incredibly abrasion-resistant. We scraped the shoes on sharp granite, rough blacktop, tree bark and everything else nature throws at you on the trail with the GR7 barely showing any sign of use. Even the mesh side panels seem to share similar durability and came out of our testing in like-new condition. We also like the oval lace eyelets that Shimano thoughtfully used. Since they allow the flat laces to remain flat, lace longevity should be good as well. And in case you do have a lace issue, a second pair of contrasting colored laces are included with the shoes. Reinforced areas like the heel of the shoe as well as the molded toecap should add to the longevity of this solid all-around shoe. For an even greater degree of durability, you might consider the Five Ten Freerider Pro.
At $130, the Shimano GR7 is a good value for the rider seeking all-around performance in a durable shoe.
This shoe is designed for the rider seeking an all-around performer no matter where the trail takes you. The Shimano GR7 strikes an excellent balance in every metric we tested. From pedal grip to comfort to breathability and durability, the GR7 is a top performer. This shoe will satisfy riders from beginner to expert in all riding conditions.
— Jason Cronk