I’ve got a foot issue. My right foot. It’s called Morton’s Neuroma. It’s self diagnosed of course; but, I’m not wrong. Until recently, I rode with Shimano’s AM7 shoes and the nerves regularly flared up between my third and fourth toes. It was absolutely miserable. It felt like standing on a pebble and came with a radiating, burning sensation, unique to nerve injury. The only way to alleviate it was to either:
a. Loosen the shoe so much that my foot swam in it while riding
b. Stop riding
This issue became particularly bad over the last few months. I couldn’t ride beyond 5 miles or 45 minutes without both mental and physical disruption. Huge distraction. It stunk. Enter Shimano’s ME7 Wide.
While doing some research into Morton’s Neuroma, I learned many cyclists have claimed relief from the combination of wider shoes, larger shoe/pedal interface (greater surface area), and stiffer soles. The logic made sense. My situation met 1 of 3 criteria; I run Shimano’s XT SPD with the platform. Surface area? Check. What to do about width, stiffness, and our good friend, durability?
I wanted to like Shimano’s AM7 shoes, but they were much too narrow and flexible. After reading a few online reviews, the ME7’s overwhelmingly received high praise for all three of the remaining criteria. Purchase made in a size 45 Wide, black, with hopeful anticipation.
On the first ride with the new shoes, mile 5 came and I kept waiting for my foot to begin burning. Two hours into the ride and it never did. Solution found. While I attribute relief to the shoe’s width and stiffness, Shimano has a couple of design features that I think work in concert to provide the optimal foot environment.
Torsional Balance, or, TORBAL, is Shimano’s term for the optimal connection between shoe and pedal that allows the foot to naturally flex laterally through a range of motion. The sole has a series of shallow S-shaped channels throughout that allow the sole to twist over varying terrain while keeping the foot aligned over the pedal. Cool.
Another consideration from those suffering with Morton’s Neuroma is cleat position. Most shoes offer very little fore/aft adjustment and the cleat always seems to align exactly where the flare-up is most intense. Perhaps cleat location is the main perpetrator that induces the discomfort. Regardless, the ME7’s have an expanded cleat adjustment range that supports more riding styles and rider preferences. I was able to make better adjustments that shifted pedaling forces to a different zone on my foot without compromising cadence or power.
So, marketing spin? Going to to say no on this one. Whatever magic Shimano concocted and put into this shoe, it worked to make riding enjoyable again.
I should also mention that I use footbeds for a more stable pedaling platform and better hip/knee/ankle alignment. My foot takes up more space in the shoe, especially from the arch to heel, so volume was another dimension that couldn’t be overlooked. Shimano got it right.
Looks always matter. And, frankly, the black ME7’s are hideous. No place on earth had the olive/tan colorway in a 45 Wide. Thanks COVID. Actually, I can’t say that in confidence. I’m not sure if Shimano made a wide version in that colorway. Sometimes, function must be the only thing. It is here. In the case of ouch foot, I am happy to give up style points. I’ll have to find where I can make them up on trail. But if I can’t, my feet will be happy.