Shimano GR7 Flat Pedal Shoe

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Shimano GR7 Flat Pedal Shoe GR7
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Tested: Shimano GR7 Flat Pedal Shoe

This fresh flat pedal shoe from Shimano is light, comfortable, and shred-worthy. Can it measure up to the best when it comes to grip?

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Shimano GR7 Flat Pedal Shoe

Flat pedal shoes are tricky business. Not only do they need to deliver good grip on the pedals, but we also want them to look like shoes we’d wear on the town, not take on water, be stiff enough for pedaling but comfortable enough for walking around in all day. Needless to say, us flat pedal riders are a discerning bunch when it comes to our footwear, and it takes a solid shoe to impress us these days. That is just what Shimano has delivered with the new GR7 – read on to find out what else we think of it.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Low weight
  • Well ventilated
  • Fast drying
  • Ankle collar protects against debris accumulation
  • Above average grip
  • All-day comfort
  • Grip can get overwhelmed in the wet
  • Sole could be stiffer
  • Not enough protection for full-on gravity use

Shimano GR7 Highlights

  • MICHELIN

Flat pedal shoes are tricky business. Not only do they need to deliver good grip on the pedals, but we also want them to look like shoes we’d wear on the town, not take on water, be stiff enough for pedaling but comfortable enough for walking around in all day. Needless to say, us flat pedal riders are a discerning bunch when it comes to our footwear, and it takes a solid shoe to impress us these days. That is just what Shimano has delivered with the new GR7 – read on to find out what else we think of it.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Low weight
  • Well ventilated
  • Fast drying
  • Ankle collar protects against debris accumulation
  • Above average grip
  • All-day comfort
  • Grip can get overwhelmed in the wet
  • Sole could be stiffer
  • Not enough protection for full-on gravity use

Shimano GR7 Highlights

  • MICHELIN® rubber outsole for superb grip on pedal and ground
  • Perforated synthetic upper with mesh for heat management
  • Molded toe cap for additional toe protection
  • Stretch mesh ankle collar offers additional debris protection
  • Elastic lace strap with pull-tab to secure laces
  • Includes one pair of alternative color spare laces
  • Materials absorb less water and dry quickly
  • Colors: Grey/Green, Blue
  • Weight: 447 grams (size 46, verified)
  • MSRP: $130.00 USD

Initial Impressions

The GR7 is billed as a shoe for anything from AM to DH use by Shimano, but judging it by its light weight and generally streamlined appearance, it certainly felt like it belongs more towards the AM side of that range when we first inspected our test pair. The shoe is constructed with synthetic materials, and the presence of several vented areas on the upper points to a shoe built for sustained efforts and warmer climates.

One of the most daunting aspects facing any manufacturer wishing to leave their mark in the flat pedal world is the development of a good sole. And by good, we mean that it has to be very sticky, yet not wear out in a fortnight. Asking for too much? Almost, but the Five Ten Stealth rubber gold standard exists to prove that it can be done, and any other manufacturer will inevitably end up being measured against that particular yardstick. Shimano went outside the shoe industry for help here, working with none other than the venerable tire maker Michelin to come up with a sole for the GR7. The result is a bike-specific compound and a sole designed with two distinct zones: a middle zone for the pedal, and a more heavily sculpted zone in the heel and toes areas to help keep you upright when walking or hiking in rough terrain.

The rest of the shoe is equally well put together, with great attention to detail and quality workmanship on display throughout.

Soles that come unstuck can be the undoing of any good shoe, but Shimano stitched the sole all the way around the toe box to make sure this won’t be an issue here. The rest of the shoe is equally well put together, with great attention to detail and quality workmanship on display throughout. The main body panels are relatively thin, but added material provides extra protection around the heel and toe areas. The reinforced toe box is very stiff to the touch, but the top of the toe area is more exposed with just the synthetic, leather-like material providing protection here. The tongue is of medium thickness and fairly soft and spongy to the touch.

We’ve tested many shoes over the years, and most of them have an annoying tendency to collect dirt and other debris through the ankle area. Shimano has attempted to remedy this problem with an extra ankle collar that is meant to snug up to the ankle and reduce the chance for this unwanted debris to find its way into the shoe. Not too hot in the looks department perhaps, but we’ll gladly live with that if it means less sand in our socks.

On The Trail

The GR7 was comfortable right from the start. It fits true to size, and the generally light weight and supple construction means that it’s an easy shoe to get along with from day one. Walking around, the shoe felt solid but certainly not clunky, a feeling that was quickly confirmed on the bike. The sole is stiff enough for all-day rides, but not to the point of not feeling what’s going on between the foot and the pedal.

From long XC days to damp forest freeride sessions, the GR7s have taken it all in stride.

Moving out, the GR7 offers good support when pedaling. The toe area is roomy, but the overall fit is still tight which helps with power transfer and stability – your foot never feels like it’s swimming around in the shoe. The laces do a good job of cinching down and staying put, hardly ever coming undone even without resorting to doubling up on the bows. We’ve had the shoes out on the trails for about two months now, and we’ve subjected them to all kinds of riding: from long XC days to damp forest freeride sessions, the GR7s have taken it all in stride.

So what about that all-important grip then? Throughout testing, the GR7 has been impressive. No, the Michelin sole does not quite match a Five Ten Stealth sole for outright grippiness, but it is not too far behind either. In dry conditions on mellower trails, we found it hard to fault it, and we’d probably go so far as to say that this is the closest to Five Ten we have tested to date. It’s only when things turn really rough that we’ve noticed our feet moving around on the pedals a bit more with the GR7, like for example down very steep sections of trail with lots of braking on rough ground - especially if you get a bit sloppy with regards to keeping your heels down.

It takes plowing through puddles before your feet end up properly wet.

We’ve also tested the GR7 in super wet winter weather, with fairly good results as well. Bear in mind that this is not specifically a wet-weather shoe, nor was it designed for colder climates. Nevertheless, the materials used to make this shoe do not soak up a lot of water, and the vented areas do a good job of keeping the H2O out even in steady rain. It takes plowing through puddles before your feet end up properly wet. Once soaked through, we were able to rinse them out and get them dry enough for the next ride within a few hours in front of a heater.

In terms of keeping your feet safe, the GR7 provides enough protection for most types of incidents. There is enough padding around the heel and toe areas to ward off even heavy blows, it’s really only in extreme cases that you would find them lacking, such as a massive direct hit on the top of the toe area (beyond the reinforced part) or on the side of the shoe. The ankle collar also does a good job of keeping debris out of the shoe – not perfect, but definitely an improvement over most other shoes.

Things That Could Be Improved

Whether it’s due to the compound or the lug pattern, the GR7 could do with being a bit grippier in the wet. It remains rideable even when covered in mud, but it lacks that locked in feeling that makes you completely forget that it’s sloppy out there.

In terms of protection and stiffness, the GR7’s construction makes it most suitable as a trail / all-mountain shoe. Smooth riders who keep their feet on the pedals most of the time can get away with using them for gravity applications as well, but we’d still love to see Shimano trade a few grams for a slightly sturdier build on the upper.

Finally, the GR7 is fairly flat inside, and does not provide a lot of arch support.

Long Term Durability

We’ve only been using the GR7 for two months so far, which is not long enough to form a definitive opinion with regards to longevity. The shoe has seen some adverse conditions though, and it’s come through the ordeal still looking fairly fresh. There are no signs of premature wear, nor do any stitches or bonds appear suspect at this time. The sole itself also seems to be holding up to the pedal pins just fine for now. We will keep riding the GR7 and report back here in case of trouble.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The flat pedal shoe market can seem a bit one-dimensional at times, such is the dominance of the main player in this field - especially when it comes to grip. Shimano can take great pride in having not only delivered a comfortable shoe that offers good performance on the trail, but also one that starts to approach the levels of grip needed to make it an outright contender. Choice is always good, and we’re stoked to be able to add the GR7 to our arsenal of flat pedal footwear. For really heavy days we prefer something with more protection, but for all-mountain rides in dry conditions, the GR7 is close to perfect.

More information at: www.shimano-lifestylegear.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 44 // Years Riding MTB: 12 // Weight: 200-pounds (90.7kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Shimano GR7 Flat Pedal Shoe
Riding Type Dirt Jump / Urban, Downhill, Freeride, Trail
Rider Unisex
Construction Rubber sole, synthetic upper
Rubber Type Michelin
Sizes 36-48
Colors Grey/Green, Blue
Weight 0 lb 15.8 oz (447 g)
Miscellaneous Weight: 447 grams (size 46, verified)
Price $130
More Info

​www.shimano-lifestylegear.com

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