These mountain bike/touring shoes came into the road.cc offices a couple of weeks ago and they've pretty much been on my feet ever since. So far my feet aren't complaining.
Who are they for?
According to Shimano they are a good entry level mountain biking, touring, or commuting shoe (they replace the MT31 which filled the same space in the Shimano range). We've tested the MT32Ls as a commuter shoe. What we can say about them as a mountain bike shoe is that there is plenty of tread and it's fairly wide, so should clear easily of mud as will the cleat bed - which is also wide, they are probably best suited though to drier, less extreme conditions.
From a touring perspective - we haven't ridden them on any really long rides ( we will and we'll up date this review when we do) so we can't comment on whether they are likely to be a good choice if you suffer from hotspots on longer rides. What we can say is that they are certainly comfortable enough to wear all day on and off the bike.
So how do they perform?
The MT32Ls make an ideal commuting shoe, stiff, tough and smart enough to wear all day long if you want or need to.The removable cleat bed cover and adjustable cleat plate make both fitting your cleats a piece of cake - there is plenty of fore/aft adjustment so you can position the cleats exactly where you want them.
On the bike they give a stiffer pedalling platform than you might imagine from a shoe that is comfortable to walk around in, I did have some issues with my right shoe occasionally pulling out of the pedal on climbs, but I think this was due to a combination of the cleat retention on my pedals being backed off, and my positioning of the cleat further back on the shoe than usual. Oh yeah, and my awesome hill climbing power…
They would combine well with a platform clipless pedal such as Shimano's M424 or the single sided M324, but I ran them on a set of M540s with no problem at all.
Off the bike, they are easily the best leisure cycling shoe for walking in that I've tested in a long while. In my First look a couple of weeks back I said that the cleats didn't scrape they ground when you walk in them, well… they do, just not very often (the sole must have 'settled' a bit after bearing my colossal bulk for 10 days). The downside of scraping cleats, apart from the noise, is that you are potentially damaging them, and if you walk any distance they can work loose resulting in you dropping a bolt when you are walking across gravel in the dark. Probably.
Even so, that sole is a chunky affair and it plays a big part in making these shoes stiff where they need to be. There is a reasonable amount of flex at the front of the shoes, enough to make them comfortable for walking, but across the mid-section they are as stiff as a board thanks to nice a chunky piece of rubber.
In appearance the MT32Ls are very like a more relaxed version of the MT52 which is cut higher at the ankle and has a Velcro strap for extra security. The look is very much a conventional outdoorsy trainer: the upper is a combination of durable mesh and rubber and the toecap area is resin re-inforced for extra durability according to Shimano. Certainly so far this seems like a pretty tough shoe – two weeks of continuous use and there is still not a mark on them. The reflective insets on the heal are a good touch which further enhances their suitability as a commuting shoe.
In keeping with the leisure look there's no fancy closure system, (unless you count laces as fancy), and the "shoe lace keeper loop", mentioned in the Shimano blurb turns out to be nothing more than an elasticated band running across the tongue of the shoe . That said, it works, but only if you do the shoes up tight enough for the laces to reach which in my case would have involved cutting off the blood supply to my feet. I found that the laces did slacken off if you did much walking in them although this wasn't such a problem when riding. If this is going to irritate you might be better off spending the extra £25 on the MT52 which has the extra security of that Velcro strap.
Fit is wide, but not massively so – I've got wide feet and they were held snugly, but not too snugly by the MT32Ls, over time they may stretch a bit, but I doubt they will ever become sloppy. Cycling shoes, like most other types of shoe are getting wider these days but unless you have really narrow feet there is little danger that you'll find yourself sliding around inside these. You might though find them a touch small in length. I take a 43, but usually only just (in some brands I can wear a 42). If these had been any smaller they wouldn't have fitted… To think before they arrived I thought they might be too big.
Claimed weight for a pair of size 40s is 837g our 43s tipped the scales at 1043g (with cleats) which seems fairly respectable without cleats they weighed 920g.
Shimano have an excellent track record when it comes to making cycling shoes, particularly SPD compatible ones (well, you'd hope wouldn't you…) with a long run of shoes that have scored highly in terms of both performance and price - you can add the MT32Ls to that list.