The Shimano MT3W Women's SPD shoes sit in that rare midground of being a dedicated bike shoe that's stiff for riding, yet easy to walk in. They're a cost-effective and comfortable option for on or off-road riding and touring, with relaxed low-key looks. Able to be used with or without cleats, they're spot on for those first venturing into clipless pedals. Just be aware that the fit is on the generous side.
The world of cycling shoes is a continuum stretching from ultra-rigid full-carbon speed demons to, well, trainers. If you're looking for a shoe that offers enough stiffness in the sole for a bit of extra welly when pedalling, yet don't want to sacrifice being able to walk easily when off the bike, you might want to consider this Shimano offering.
Touted by Shimano as an off-road shoe for mountain touring, the main gist is that it has a grippy sole that is suitable for prolonged walking.
If you want to go the clip-in route there's a bolt-on/off plate that you need to remove so you can attach the cleats – or leave it in place/reattach for a flat-soled non-clip-in shoe. Screwing it back on is a bit on the fiddly side but doable.
The shoe fastens and adjusts with straightforward laces and there's an elasticated keeper to hold them secure. Further up the range, the more expensive MT5 at £89.99 has a Velcro strap to keep everything secure and out of the way. The laces make things easy to adjust, and aren't so long that there's loads left flapping – and they tuck easily into the elastic keeper.
The fit here is definitely roomier than a standard EU39 but, that said, I wouldn't have wanted to go down a size. It gives plenty of scope for broader feet and for a more luxurious sock – not a bad thing for long days in the saddle or hike-a-bikes.
On the bike, the soles are quite grippy even without cleats fitted, although the compound of the main outsole is definitely grippier than that of the blanking plate. The slightly broader forefoot gives a good platform for pedalling, whether you're clipped in or not.
The soles are very flexible – they're not designed for demanding riders looking for an injection of power – but they are still stiffer and better shaped than trainers or casual shoes.
Where they excel is in their comfort for walking. They look pretty low-key, too, meaning they won't look out of place with casual clothing rather than Lycra.
I had no problems at all walking in them for prolonged periods and the level of flex meant there was little of that characteristic slapping down of the feet. There was still a small amount of noise from cleats when fitted, but they're fairly well recessed into the sole, so it was minimal.
The seam-free synthetic upper holds up quite well against splashes and light showers, but it's not really protective in prolonged bad weather because it's peppered with ventilation holes. These start sufficiently far up the side of the upper that you can walk through reasonably deep puddles, but you wouldn't want to wade through a flood.
I've had no problems with the shoes being over-sweaty in warmer conditions, though it's not exactly the best time of year for testing that.
Price-wise, they're in the same sort of ball park as many other touring type shoes. They're a tenner more than the FLR Rexston ActiveTouring/Trail Shoe at £69.99 but £15 less than the more trainer-like Bontrager SSR Multisport Shoes at £94.99.
The next model up – the Shimano MT5 SPD shoes – are £89.99 with just a few minor upgrades, mostly to the fastenings.
Given how easy the MT3Ws are to walk in, and their versatility in terms of whether you use cleats or not, they're pretty good value for money if you're looking for an on/off-bike shoe.
Their low-key looks, light weight and walking comfort mean these are a good choice for on or off-road touring.
Comfortable on and off the bike, a good choice for touring duties where walking is likely
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano MT3W Women's SPD Shoes
Size tested: 39
Tell us what the product is for
Designed primarily for recreational on and off-road cycling and touring.
Shimano's UK distributor, Freewheel, says: 'Designed for recreational on and off-road cycling, the MT series are outdoor styled shoes designed for many riding styles
'Classic lace-up styling, designed for recreational on or off-road pedalling performance with excellent walking comfort'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
One piece construction creates an upper with a secure fit, increased durability and lighter weight
Glass fibre reinforced shank plate for optimal sole rigidity
EVA midsole rubber outsole for pedalling efficiency and walking comfort
Women?s specific last for a natural, comfortable fit
Sole stiffness 4
Weight 706g a pair (Size 42)
Well made from nice quality components and materials.
If the fit suits, these deliver a good balance of on-bike usefulness and comfort and off-bike walkability.
There's not much to go wrong, and the uppers are pretty easily cleaned.
On the larger side for their stated size and quite a roomy fit, but if that suits, then there's little to complain about. The lace closure make them easy to adjust.
A touch on the large side for their stated size but not a full size too big, and nothing that more luxurious socks couldn't sort.
Pretty light for cycling-specific shoes, particularly touring-focused ones at this price point.
Comfortable on and off the bike. Make for easy walking too.
Sit at the same sort of price point as many similar products.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth. The insoles are easy to replace with aftermarket insoles if needed.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Low-key looks, easy to walk in, not a bad price, not overly heavy.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The cleat cover plate was a bit fiddly to screw back on, the fit is on the roomy side.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
In the same sort of ball park as other touring type shoes – £10 more than the FLR Rexston ActiveTouring/Trail Shoe at £69.99, £15 less than the more trainer-like Bontrager SSR Multisport Shoes at £94.99. The next model up – the Shimano MT5 SPD shoes – are £89.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are well made, comfortable on the bike, and easy and comfortable to walk in, plus they don't look too clumpy or OTT. A very good choice for recreational and touring use.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.