Our testers like how Shimano blends protective features such as a TPU upper and an ankle gaiter into such a lightweight shoe. Our midfoot stayed cool thanks to mesh panels on the sides of the Shimano GR7, we only wish the forefoot area had some ventilation. The Michelin rubber sole grips the pedals well, allowing the rider the freedom to move their foot on the pedal, but falls short of the sticky grip our testers prefer. The GR7 not only feels very light on the foot, but it is also one of the lightest shoes we tested and has a comfortable fit and supportive insole. The GR7 performs well on the bike and should be on the shortlist of shoes to consider when making a purchase.
Shimano GR7 - Women's Review
Cons: Less grip than our testers prefer
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Shimano GR7 blends durability, comfort and protection into a relatively lightweight shoe. Weighing in at 664 grams per pair for an EU39 women's, this is one of the lighter shoes we reviewed, making it easy and comfortable to wear on long rides. Our testers like how comfortable the fit is, especially through the supportive arch. Mesh side panels help keep our midfoot cool on hot days.
Shimano is the only shoe in our line-up that uses Michelin rubber on the outsole. While you may be most familiar with Michelin as a car tire company, they also have been making bike tires for quite some time.
We are impressed with the grip of the rubber on our pedals and feel it contends with the better performing shoes in this metric, despite being softer and more flexible than our award-winning shoes. Other reviews of the GR7 tout the shoes balance in grip as being not too much and not too little. In general, we agree with this statement and feel that the grip is fairly balanced. On a scale of 1 - 10 with 1 being very soft and 10 being very grippy, we would put the GR7 around a five, despite our personal preference for something around a seven.
The outsole tread on the GR7 is what Shimano calls an "optimized sole pattern." This is a combination of smaller and larger lugs that hug the pedal pins quite well, while still allowing the rider to adjust their foot position with relative ease, something that we know some people prefer. The forefoot on the GR7 is slightly wider in comparison to some shoes tested, increasing the surface area between the outsole and pedal.
We found the tread pattern on the GR7 to be more optimized for hike-a-bikes in comparison to other shoes in our review with sole patterns that are consistent from heel to toe. The larger lugs found on the heel and toe help to grip soils while hiking better than dot and hexagon patterns found on other shoes.
Comfort and Protection
The Shimano GR7 runs slightly large, and our testers had to size down. We originally ordered an EU40, which is our size in most shoes and they were too long, so we exchanged them for a EU39, and fit is very good, including the length and width.
We are fans of the support and comfort the GR7's footbed provides. The GR7 is both a medium width and medium volume shoe, and the toe box is slightly wider than other shoes tested, helping to increase the surface contact area with the pedal. During testing in hot and humid conditions, this bit of added width in the toe box was welcome, as our feet did swell a bit while riding.
The GR7 features a neoprene ankle gaiter to help keep debris out of the shoe. It also provides a small amount of ankle support and protection, a nice added component. However, we do feel the neoprene gaiter affects the shoe's breathability. The forefoot of the GR7 is highly protective, as it features TPU that encases the front of the shoe from the laces forward, and we never worried about rock strikes to the front of our foot. But, the mid-foot is entirely mesh and lacks protection. While this is a less commonplace for impacts, the mesh is thin, and any type of impact would go directly into the foot.
Overall, the GR7 is comfortable, but falls just short of being one of our top picks in this metric due to the lack of mid-foot protection.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
The GR7 earns high marks for its power transfer by our testers. It is rated a 4 of 12 on Shimano's outsole stiffness scale, with shoes scoring lower being geared towards comfort and those with a higher score being more for competition use. Despite being a comfort fit and lacking the rigidity found in other shoes, the GR7 balances stiffness and flex. Unlike carbon soled shoes that have great power transfer and no flex, the GR7 is stiff enough to not feel much of the pedal underfoot and rigid enough to also have very good power transfer.
The shoes' midsole absorbs trail impacts before they reach the rider's foot, making the GR7 a solid choice for riders who enjoy technical terrain. The sole of the GR7 also flexes enough to be able to comfortably hike in, without pressure points or feeling overly rigid.
Our testing occurred in spring and early summer, meaning we got to experience a wide range of temperatures while wearing the GR7's. The GR7 has mesh panels along the midfoot, which allow for very good airflow to the midfoot, giving it some of the best breathability of all shoes tested. However, we wish the TPU toe box had ventilation perforations to add to the shoes' breathability. The neoprene gaiter makes the GR7 adds a bit of warmth in hot and humid conditions, but not too much.
Despite being dirty from trail work and riding, the GR7 is holding up to use and abuse very well with no rips, tears, or scarring on the upper or outsole. The ankle gaiter helps to keep debris out of the shoe, something we appreciate not only while riding but when moving pea gravel while doing some trail work. The flat laces stay tied without the need for a double knot, and the elastic lace retainer keeps them tidy and out of the way. The reinforced toe box seems to be able to withstand a bit of abuse, as it incurred more during trail work than on the bike. Our impressions after two months of use is that the GR7 is fairly durable and will hold up well over time.
The GR7 weighs in at 664 grams for a EU39 women's, making it one of the lighter shoes we tested. Our testers were able to tell the difference in the lighter weight shoes versus the heavier shoes, especially while pedaling, as a lighter shoe is easier to spin.
The Shimano GR7 is in line for pricing comparable shoes, making it worthy of consideration for someone looking for an all-round flat pedal shoe.
For the rider looking for a shoe that easily allows them to move their shoe and who wants a bit more breathability, we recommend looking at the GR7. With the TPU toe box, neoprene ankle gaiter, and space for heavier weight socks, it is an excellent choice for a variety of riding temps and sloppy conditions. Just remember to try them on for size first, as our testers find them to run big.
— Tara Reddinger-Adams
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