Before I bought my Specialized Levo electric mountain bike I didn’t think mountain biking shoes would be necessary.
Then I test rode my buddy’s electric mountain bike on a fast ride through some North Vancouver trails. After 1.5 hours, my shins were a bloody pulp and I suffered a gash on my ankle (nothing permanent).
While my feet weren’t injured, I realized that I could seriously injure my feet trail riding without proper mountain biking shoes.
So I hit the cycling stores looking for the perfect pair of mountain biking shoes.
I ultimately decided on the Shimano GR9 shoes for two reasons:
- They fit really well
- I liked the velcro flap both aesthetically and functionally.
Since I bought these shoes, I’ve done many epic trail rides as well as road rides commuting to my office.
Moreover, I like these shoes so much I wear them occasionally when not riding. They look cool and are insanely comfortable.
Shimano GR9 Overview
Here’s what I like about these shoes:
Aside from gripping pedals well and providing protection, my favorite feature is how comfortable these shoes are. They’re well cushioned and roomy. If you have narrow feet though, these may not be for you.
Great for wide feet
When looking for mountain biking shoes, I tried some Five Ten shoes. They were really narrow and tight. I didn’t want to have aching feet after riding for an hour or two, so I chose to keep looking. I’m glad I did because I stumbled upon the Shimano GR9s which fit wide feet really well.
Let feet breathe with perforations
The sides and top have perforations which allow your feet to breathe. It adds to the comfort. I’ve worn these shoes all day to work and riding to work with no moisture issue.
I should say they look unique. They’re a cool-looking shoe that I enjoy wearing as a casual everyday shoe in addition for riding. However, the design may not be for everyone.
Good tread for gripping pedals
Before buying these shoes I used some Converse shoes for riding. They slipped pretty bad. When I rode with these shoes for the first time, I immediately noticed how much better they grip and stay put on the pedals. It’s a huge benefit (and obviously a big reason to buy shoes for trail riding). They’re also great for our steep driveway when its wet.
Fast to put on with speed lace and velcro tab
While I wouldn’t choose a shoe because it has a speed lace, I do like it. It laces up super fast. The Velcro tab gives it the unique look I like. The velcro adheres very strong. I’ve not once had it come undone while wearing it.
Decent foot protection when riding
There’s a strip of soft plastic on the front of the shoe to protect the foot from crunching between the pedal and a hard object such as a rock or tree root. This protective feature has already protected my foot.
The synthetic leather is thick and also offers protection to the entire foot. It’s not like steel-toed boots, mind you, but it helps.
Check out the front top below. You’ll see the strip of soft plastic.
Repels water (but not waterproof)
The synthetic leather does a good job repelling water, but they’re not waterproof. I’ve gone through enough 4 inch puddles at top speed to know that. During one of my early commuting rides to the office, I ripped through a huge puddle assuming my feet would stay dry. They didn’t. Until then, water had never been a problem. The moral of the story is they repel water reasonably well, but they aren’t waterproof.
Here’s what I don’t like:
Split at the seam very quickly
About 1 cm of the seam glue split on the front toe after about 1 month. While it hasn’t been a problem and it hasn’t spread, it’s disappointing given these aren’t the cheapest shoes around. Check it out:
Feet slide around a little bit
They are roomy, which is what I wanted. The bottom is cushioned but also feet slide on it a bit. I don’t really mind this, but some people might. I don’t like my shoes overly tight because my feet have a high bridge and when constricted, aches badly.
While these shoes repel water, they aren’t waterproof. I’m not sure waterproofing is possible, but it would be nice for when ripping through big puddles.
Do I regret buying these for trail riding?
Not at all. I wear them all the time. They provide the necessary protection when riding. They’re comfortable. They look good. They’re holding up okay despite a small split seam. I do recommend these shoes, especially if you have wide feet.