Shimano MW-81 Update Review

Over three years ago, in one of the first posts on this blog, I reviewed the Shimano MW-81 winter cycling shoes.  Back then, I talked about them being warm, waterproof and durable.  I provided followup thoughts a couple months later, and again a couple months after that.

I’ve now had the shoes for 3 years.  To be completely honest, there aren’t a lot of things that have remained a constant in my cycling gear lineup for 3 years.  I still ride the Vaya and the Dummy, but have replaced my road bike, introduced a new gravel bike, replaced my fatbike, and am in the process of replacing my mountain bike.  I’ll readily admit that I enjoy trying new gear, and updating/upgrading.  For something to remain in my primary use for 3 years is saying something.

The Shimanos look largely as they did when I got them.  They’re dirty, but none the worse for wear.  They’re still totally waterproof, including for immersion up to the neoprene bootie at the ankle.  They’re windproof.  They’re still comfortable.  I use them for anything road or gravel when the temps hit 40 or colder.  For that use, they’re perfect.  If the temps get into the low 20s, I might consider a chemical warmer if it will be a long ride.  Otherwise, it’s just wool socks and the boots.  I wear them mountain biking in cold temps as well (provided that I won’t be riding in a lot of snow).

For fatbiking, where you might be off the bike walking more, I’ll take Wolvhammers every day of the week.  The extra insulation and traction of the Wolvhammers is totally worthwhile.  But when you’re not putting your feet down, that extra insulation isn’t always necessary, and it’s nice to not be spinning all of that boot when you’re cranking on the road or on gravel.

The Shimanos are not the prettiest shoes.  Honestly, they’re ugly.  They’re those black velcro shoes that the 3rd grader who eats crayons wears.  But they work.  They’re incredibly functional.  And frankly, I’m amazed at how well they hold up.  They’re one of the best pieces of kit that I have, notwithstanding their appearance.  I had replaced the insoles with a set of 45NRTH Jaztronaut insoles, but frankly, I don’t think that’s necessary.  The stock insoles worked just as well, and left more volume for warmth inside the shoes.

If you’re looking for deep winter, trudging around in snow boots, get the Wolvhammers.  If you’re looking for rain/cold/wet conditions boots for riding, when you won’t be putting your feet down much, these are the shoes to get.


3 thoughts on “Shimano MW-81 Update Review

  1. May I ask why you prefer these over the 45 NRTH Fasterkatts? I know that the 2015 models have addressed a few issues that were negatives before. Just curious about your choice due to your (well placed) love of 45 NRTH.

    • I don’t have personal experience with the Fasterkatts; I purchased my Shimanos before the FKs were available.

      That said, I know many who have tried them, and the universal consensus is that they’re good down to maybe 40 degrees. Great in wet weather, but just NOT WARM. In fact, I have a well-travelled cyclist friend on Facebook who indicated that he is using FKs, and wants to replace them with the Shimanos because of the lack of insulation in the FKs.

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