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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 102 > THROUGH THE GRINDER

THROUGH THE GRINDER

Winter is not optional here at Singletrack, so we’ve been out in all weathers and all times of day. See how the latest kit has fared in this issue’s through the Grinder.

SHIMANO MW7 WINTER BOOTS

Price: £159.99 // From: Madison, madison.co.uk

Tested: Three months

Getting a pair of winter boots is like getting a hamster, or growing a moustache. It’s a commitment, and not something to be entered into frivolously. Costing nearly as much as a pair of Timberland yellow boots, these Shimano MW7 boots require careful considersation. However, if you discover that they’re right for you, then they’ll reward you by extending your riding hours for the darker months.

Many riders are happy to spend £100 or so on a good lighting system, reasoning that it’ll give them more chances to ride during the winter, plus they can use it for their commute. And yet, they’ll baulk at spending a similar amount on a pair of dedicated winter boots, preferring to run the same shoes all year, or buying some overshoes.

These Shimano boots are from a long and venerable line, going back to the original boots in the early noughties. They proudly use manmade fibres to keep your feet warm and dry (within the limits of having a big hole in the top for your ankle). The upper has a breathable Gore-Tex membrane and is fleecy on the inside to trap air and keep things warm. Some winter boots can feel a little austere inside, but these are warm and welcoming. Unlike the similar MW-81 shoes, with their three Velcro straps, the MW7s us a speed-lace system to snug the foot in, with a further strap around the top of the foot’s arch to keep your foot in place while honking and walking. A Velcro cover keeps laces hidden and a neoprene cuff snugs around your ankle to keep things as watertight as can be expected. There’s a good bit of reflectivity for those dark commutes too.

Down below, there’s a reasonably plain sole, with only a small amount of tread, a large cleat area and a ‘TORBAL’ midsole. This ‘allows natural rider ‘flow’ motion during downhill descents and added comfort off the bike’. I have no idea what that means either.

When I said that winter boots are a commitment, I meant that in order to justify them, they can’t just be something you get out on the six days a year it’s snowy. They need to be something you can live in for most, if not all, rides from November to March. The MW7s are ideal companions for this kind of work. They’re easy to get into – although the inner Neoprene collar is oddly tapered, like a suit collar, and it needs care to stop it folding over. A simple pull on the speed lace and you’re in, with further cinching on the ankle strap to keep you tight into the shoe. There’s not a huge amount of adjustment and the fit is aimed at comfort, with a lack of constriction; if you’re after 100% power eficiency and foot-crushing closure, run a race shoe and a shoe cover. The sole, too, isn’t the grippiest, so winter adventurers should probably also look at the XM9 boot too.

The boots are instantly welcoming and my feet were toasty from the front door. Leather on the outside, and a lack of squishy padding on the inside, makes them easy to dry and care for too.

Overall: A good, warm and dry winter boot for dedicated winter commuters and trail riders. Racers and mountain adventurers probably need more cinch-ability and grip.

JOYSTICK ANALOG CARBON HANDLEBARS

Price: £129.99 // From: Hookit Products, hookitproducts.co.uk

Tested: Five months

People don’t think about handlebars nearly as much, perhaps, as they should. Once you’ve got the fickle, squishy barrier of the grips out of the way (honestly, they’re so malleable), they are the primary, comfortingly solid interface between your upper body and everything it wants to do on a bike, be that shred, pootle, fall off embarrassingly or lacerate spleen.

But they’re so, well, similar. All of them. It’s not hard to be – they’re essentially a pipe of somewhere between 600mm (oldskool cross-country alert) and 800mm (The Road to Gnarsville) attached to the stem in the middle. Grasp the bars at the ends, pull the left end towards you (and push the right) and you’ll go left, pull the right end (and push the left) and you’ll go right. Not much can be changed there, right?

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About Singletrack

Here at Singletrack Towers, Wordsworth's words on the death of his son perhaps capture some of our feelings on Jenn's death: ...he is taken from me—yet in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it. We've tried to do as Jenn would have wanted, and got on with doing what we do in every issue: bring you an array of adventures, features and product reviews to inspire you to ride your way through the winter. However in this issue we also pay tribute to Jenn and hope that it gives you that extra bit of oomph to get out there and get doing. We bring you: Singletrack Heroes - it could only be our own Jenn. Written by her husband Tom Hill. The Great Divide - one of Jenn's most popular articles, and one of her many amazing riding feats. We reprint this article in full. Mark's Mountain - Mark says 'no more maybe tomorrow' and heads of to the Alps to go up, up and up... The Matterhorn - Swiss cheese and chocolate pale into insignificance as Daniel Klawczyński finds himself face to face with the mighty Matterhorn. We join him as he explores the epic trails on all sides of this classic mountain. We Work Here - Hope​ Technology​ - Go green with envy as Hopetech invites Sam Needham to tour ​its factory. 24HR Pedal People - Chipps takes a look at the sleep deprived world of 24​hr​ racing​ and how it has evolved over the years​. He gets advice from the experts, including Guy Martin and Jason Miles, and puts their knowledge into practice​ by pitting for a soloist rather than riding for a change. ​ Classic Ride - Rachel Sokal and Olly Townsend head to Nottinghamshire to bring us a classic ride full of ​a​utumn ​c​olour. Bike Test: The Middle Ground - Bikes with 130-150mm rear shock travel. Where do they fit? Are they neither here nor there, or is this a happy medium? Low Carbon Adventure - Chipps and Beate go on holiday without costing the earth.
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