Are you looking for a new pair of cross country bike shoes? Something that’s great both on and off the pedals…maybe also in a half or wide size?
The Shimano XC90 are top of the range for off road. They’re ideal for cyclocross or any time you need run.
The XC90 are available in both normal and wide foot lasts and half sizes. If that’s not enough you can even get them heat molded to your specific foot shape.
Shimano high-end products are in every professional cycling event on the planet. So how does the XC90 stack up?
This review looks into every detail of the Shimano XC90 from top to bottom.
Here’s what’s covered below :
- Shoe upper
- Closure system
- Inner sole
- Sizing & Heat Molding
- Shimano XC90 vs Shimano XC70
Shimano have been been building precision bike components for almost a century.
The Shimano XC90 is Shimano’s top range answer to the cross country / mountain bike shoe. The XC standing for cross country.
XC90 Shoe Upper
The XC90 is available in either bright blue or black with blue accents.
The top comprises of Rovenica synthetic leather. Rovenica is more akin to genuine leather than other synthetic material. At a microscopic level the material doesn’t have pockets which absorb water. Meaning it doesn’t get waterlogged and stays the same weight in the wet.
This resistance to absorb water makes them very easy to clean. A quick sponge and water and the dirt’s gone.
The XC90 clean up like a pair of rubber boots.
Rovenica is supple and lightweight, with great elasticity. You can stretch it, yet it will always return to the same size and shape.
This means it will conform to the shape of your foot, without permanent stretching. Giving you the same fit for the life of the shoes.
XC90 Closure System
The closure system uses one aluminium ratcheting buckle and 2 hook and loop straps.
The buckle and straps cross in alternate directions. This alternating design pulls the upper around the foot instead of across it. It also removes tension from the top of the foot when you’re pushing off.
XC90 Inner Shoe
You can customize the fit of the inner soles. The XC90 come with two inner sole wedges for a custom sole height fit.
The heel cup contains a non-slip one-way grip lining material, which has a similar feel to velcro. Yet it’s comfortable and easy on your socks.
The heel is deep. The depth combined with the inner grip, makes sure your heel stays snug inside. Even when sprinting.
XC90 Dynalast Soles
The XC90 use Shimano’s Dynalast sole shape, which gives an efficient pedaling action. The carbon fibre sole is stiff in the midsole with a bit more flexibility at the heel. This heel flex makes it easier to run.
They have a stiff midsole. This prevents midsole compression or flex, sending more power to the pedal. The power transfer feels more akin to a pair of top of the range road shoes rather than mountain bike shoe.
The sole has polyurethane lugs, which are soft enough to give good grip. They clear mud well. But these soft lugs do wear fast. They also come with optional metal toe studs which are brilliant uphill runs.
They use a 2 bolt cleat which is standard MTB compatible. The cleats do not come with them, but are available separately.
The Shimano SH51 SPD Cleat set is the best pairing for off road use.
This all results in a sole design that reduces your foot fatigue and is ideal for cyclocross.
Sizing and Heat Molding for Custom Fit
The XC90 comes in both normal and wide foot lasts and half sizes.
The two included insole arch pads allow you to customize the height of the arch support.
Average to low arches
Average to high arches
Choose the support pad that’s right for your and ensure optimal pressure distribution.
If you’ve got a halfway normal shaped foot you’ll be able to get a pair to fit great.
Shimano use european sizing, use this chart as a reference to choosing the right size.
For more details see Shimano shoe sizing.
If you’ve got abnormally shaped feet in anyway, then Shimano have still got your back…or your foot. Heat molding is ideal for:
Heat molding ensures a precise fit, whatever the shape of your foot.
Do not try putting your shoes in the oven at home – you will melt them!
Heat Molding Process
If you have unusually shaped feet and want heat molding goto a Shimano dealer to use the correct equipment.
This is what they will do:
1. The relevant insole arch support is inserted. Either high-mid or mid-low.
2. A protective toe cap is placed over the shoe to prevent warping. All straps are opened.
3. The shoes and insoles are placed in the Shimano over for 1 minute at about 100 degrees Celsius.
4. The insoles are placed back in the shoes.
5. The shoes (with insoles in) are placed back in the over for a further 2 minutes.
6. The shoes are work, and the heel pushed down firmly. All straps are done up as per normal wear.
7. Each foot is placed in a vacuum sealed bag.
8. While standing wearing the shoes the vacuum is turned on for 2 minutes.
9. The feet are taken out of the bags and the shoes kept on for a further 5 minutes until it cools fully.
How The XC90 Compares to The XC70
The XC90 are Shimano’s top range cross country shoes, above the little brother XC70. So how do the two compare?
The XC90 are lighter than the XC70. XC70 weighs 632g for a size 40, vs 627g for the XC90 in the same size.
The XC90 does not have as much tread as the XC70s. But the tread it does have is softer. Also the tread design on the XC90 means it doesn’t hold mud, unlike the XC70.
The XC70 usually come in about $40 cheaper.
The XC70 have heat moldable insoles, but unlike the XC90, the uppers on the XC70 are not moldable.
Choose XC70 if:
You don’t want to spend as much money
Are not worried about heat molding the uppers
Won’t be doing any running
Choose XC90 if:
You’re prepared to pay the most for the best
You want to custom mold fit the uppers
You will be doing some running
Shimano SH-XC90 are one of the best mountain bike shoes. Ideal for cyclocross or any time you also need to run off road with your bike.
- Available in either:
- Bright blue
- Normal sizes
- Wide sizes
- Half sizes
- Rovenica synthetic leather for the upper
- Doesn’t absorb water
- Doesn’t absorb water
- Easy to clean
- Supple and lightweight
- Great elasticity
- Same fit for the life of the shoes
- Aluminium ratcheting buckle and 2 hook and loop straps
- Cross in alternate directions
- Removes tension from the top of the foot
- Customizable inner soles with two different height arch supports
- Heat molding insoles and uppers for custom fit
- Deep heel cup with non-slip one-way grip lining material
- Dynalast carbon fibre soles
- Stiff in the midsole
- Flexibility at the heel
- Excellent power transfer
- With soft polyurethane lugs
- Good grip that doesn’t hold mud
- Optional metal toe studs for up hill runs
- 2 bolt MTB cleat – Best matched with Shimano SH51 SPD Cleat set
- Ideal for cyclocross
- Weighs 627g for a size 40 without the cleats