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Most of you who read my blog know that I’m not one of those bloggers that spouts a bunch of crap about their sponsors and shamelessly (or would it be shamefully) name drops every other sentence with some sponsor who gave them some piece of crap product that no one really needs.  Nor do I tout new products that I purchased with my own money at full retail hoping that I might get a discount from that company in the future.  But thanks to my genetic contributors, I wear a size 15 shoe.  So anytime I find shoes that fit, I spread the word to other big footers around the land.

Let me start with a bit of background.  I’m pretty much a “Big15” on a Brannock device (the measuring device you find in shoe stores).  My left definitely is on the line if not slightly over it.  My right is a little smaller.  My heel is pretty narrow and my instep is low.  My toes are a bit long putting my first metatarsal head slightly behind the natural bending point of a shoe.  I comfortably wear a size 15 in shoes from Vasque, Nike, and New Balance as long as nothing funny is going on like the pair size 16 of Nikes I got once that were made in Vietnam.   

I wear a size 51 in Sidi.  They are a bit roomy and I have to use an after-market insole….which most people my size use anyway.  I have a set of custom footbeds as well as several pair of Superfeet insoles.  They all take up a bit of volume in the shoe since my foot is thin….not narrow, but thin.  I don’t really like the Sidis available in that size as they are total noodles on the pedals.

I wear a 50 in Northwave.  I bought a few pair from Sierra Trading post long ago and still have 2 pair.  They run pretty long and fit really well, but they are a bit flexy on the pedals. 

Since both Sidi and Northwave don’t make anything in carbon larger than a 48, I ordered a pair of “stock 15” Rocket 7’s.  Very expensive.  They originally started as customs which were WAY too small.  Then I wound up with the “stock” model after some begging and pleading.  They are light, super stiff and have held up fairly well.  The lorica around the sides has taken a beating, but they are supposed to be super light race shoes.

Recenly Shimano released the M081 shoe up to a size 52!  This shoe has a ratchet buckle, 2 velcro straps, and a fiberglass reinforced sole.  So I ordered a 50 and 51.  I started with the 51’s by unleashing a 6.5 hour mountain bike hammer fest followed the next day by a stout 5 hour mountain ride.  The 51’s are a bit large.  My insoles slid back and forth in them and made my feet hurt a bit.  No blisters though.

P5150198

A week later (yes, I’ve turned into a weekend warrior), I rode in the 50’s.  My insoles still have a bit of wiggle room, but the toe box is distinctly smaller.  Every now and then I’d notice my left toe rubbing the end of the shoe…..and I was wearing traditional sock guy bike socks.  But I think I’m going to stick with these as they have the “race fit”.

The rubber sole is very sticky allowing for confident hike-a-bikes.  They even have the size molded in to them.  Downside is you can’t screw in toe cleats.  They also have the size of the sole stamped into them.  Different size soles for each size….some shoe companies use one sole length for a couple of sizes.  The stiffness is EXCELLENT!  I can actually feel the insoles “squish” when I stomp on the pedals whereas with my Sidi’s, the entire shoe would flex around the pedal.

P5150200   P5150201

The mesh in the toe is very breathable and my feet stayed cool in mid-90 degree temps.

My future concerns include tearing of the synthetic upper and shrinkage.  While I never had any problem with tearing of shimano shoes long ago when I wore a 13, these seem much more supple….maybe thinner.  And those old shimanos from years back shrank up on me.  I may soak them in water and take them on a long ride in the heat to see what happens.  Then I’ll soak them again and leave them in the 90+ degree heat we are getting and see if they shrink.  If they don’t, I’ll be ordering another pair of 50’s.  I’ll hang on to the 51’s in case my foot decides to grow again or I’ll use them as winter shoes.  Throw a little duct tape on the toe and you’re good to go!

The M086 is available up to a 52!! Wow.  I’d venture to guess that a small 17 or big 16 could fit into those.  The Euro mail order companies are selling them in bronze.  American companies are black and white.  If anyone finds any bronze size 50 here in the US, please let me know.  I want!  While these shoes are a bit heavy compared to carbon sole race shoes, they’ll work great for clydes and big foot racers around the land while saving you a ton of freakin’ money over a custom carbon shoe since retail is only around $100. 

shimano-m086-bronze