Friday, February 1, 2013

One For The Paddlefeet Fashionistas: Shimano M088LE

If my incessant whining hasn't already clued you in, I have very wide feet. Give me as many Es as you've got, but don't expect change back. As a result, it can be a little challenging to find bike-specific footwear suited for my flippers. 

Three long years ago, I rolled the dice with mail order footwear and lucked into an inexpensive pair of wide shoes from Performance Bike's house brand, Forte (probably rebranded Exustars). Of course, being an idiot, I didn't order six pairs at the time and stockpile them for later. So, after three years and who-knows-how-many miles, those babies are used up: tread worn down, side panels ready to blow out, and some serious sole grooves from ATAC and Crank Brothers pedals. They'll do in a pinch (and I'll keep them around as emergency backups), but I have to face facts: They're effectively toasted, and as far as I can tell, this model has long since become vaporware.

I started my replacement quest (and started annoying my spouse) late last summer, trying (and failing) in some Specialized touring shoes -- which were wide enough but suffered from Weird Cleat Placement Syndrome. The closest runner up was the wide version of Shimano's M087 (especially since I have good history with the old, normal-width M077). Unfortunately, my vanity got the best of me, since the M087 only came in this color:

Call me crazy, but walking around the store in these things, I felt like I was just one white belt away from looking like the cycling equivalent of this guy:

Although I guess the cycling equivalent of Herb Tarlek would be this guy:

My point is, those shoes had way too much white in 'em for my (usually questionable) taste. And the abovementioned annoyed spouse (who has excellent taste in all things save men) agreed.

Someone at Shimano heard my plaintive cry, though, since this year's equivalent of the M087 is the M088 -- which still comes in wide (look for model number M088LE, where E stands for "Egads, you have a wide foot!") and, heavens be praised, has a much more subdued, mostly-black-and-logo-lite aesthetic:

Not much to report yet, as I've only put in a couple indoor trainer torture sessions on them, but things are looking promising so far. Until they get a little break-in time with my orthotics, they're a thin-sock-only proposition, but that's something I've come to expect. These are definitely the most high-tech shoes I've wrapped around my dogs, what with the ratcheting buckle (I've always been a laces and/or Velcro guy), so I'm intrigued to see if it makes a whit of difference.

Stay tuned, my fat-footed bretheren. I'll keep you posted.


Steve Fuller said...

I about fell out of my seat when I saw that "indoor trainer sessions" flowed out of your finger tips. Summer century? :)

Scott Loveless said...

My feet aren't wider than normal, but they are aesthetically allergic to the current crop of cycling shoes. I'd like a walkable road touring shoe that doesn't look like it's a Power Rangers costume reject. Thanks.

Jason T. Nunemaker said...

Steve -- yes, I've had a Gopher Wheel Lounge East set up in the garage for a couple months. I can only manage about 45 minutes per session before suffering SNS (Scranal Numbness Syndrome), though. Not sure how you manage those marathon indoor rides, Ol' Iron-Taint. :-)

Scott -- I'm with you. The touring shoes from Shimano and Specialized are pretty subtle, but I don't find them as walkable as an MTB shoe. The M088 (which also comes in non-wide) is pretty subtle, though. Some well-placed Sharpie could render it entirely logoless, too.