XC Shoe causing toe pain, any recommendations?

So I’ve been using the Shimano XC7 for a couple years and I’ve noticed that on rides over about 40 miles my left toes start to hurt insanely bad. So much that I almost need to take the shoe off or at least stop pedaling for a bit. I normally wear a 45 (10.5), and in street shoes I wear a 10.5. I’m thinking about sizing up to a 46. Any thoughts on this or recommendations for a good shoe. I prefer shimano due to their width and generally roomier toe box, but I’m not opposed to other brands.

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I don’t have anything constructive other than my XC9s gave me a horribly swollen toe after a long ride too. I think that the fit on these are on the loose side and I remain skeptical of any boa show now. I just went back to my old school Shimanos when they did the custom molding via an oven and vacuum. When these die I’ll finally have to move on from Shimano shoes. Historically they’ve been my favorite but those high end SPhyres are not for me. I have to take some ownership in riding a show that I knew was too big but didn’t want to deal with returning them. Lesson learned and I’ll now be much more picky on shoes again.

I wish there was a more extensive review system for XC shoes. There’s quite a wide range of really nice XC shoes available in Europe that just don’t make it down here.

On BikeInn there’s some nice looking Spiuk and NorthWave XC shoes for example (amongst heaps of others). It’d be so useful to reliably know how they compare in fit.

I really like the Specialized S-Works Recon shoes. I have a wide forefoot and many xc shoes give me hotspots after long rides. The Recon’s have a nice wide toe box and I’ve had no issues on 7hr rides. I wear 10.5 and wear a 45 in the Recon. Not cheap, but frustration of hotspots just got too painful for me.


Most people have different sized feet it’s possible your left foot is big enough that when it swells during a long ride it’s a half size up. I have the same issue so I went a half size up for both feet.

Assuming the fit of the shoe is correct, put the cleat as far back as possible and lower saddle height accordingly. More rearward cleat and lower (correct) saddle heigt can reduce toe pointing and toe pain / hot spots.

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I appreciate the feedback. I’ll certainly give this a go. I’ve suspected toe pointing might be a contributing factor.

Another vote for S-Works Recon, fantastic fit, super stiff and really nice and roomy toe box! I also have different size feet and both fit very well.

Also the BOAs are really good with their adjustment capabilities.

I also had xc7 and they also fit too snug, I ended up returning them and purchased the Giro Cylinder instead which are a little wider. So far best shoes I’ve had.

Thanks for the recommendation. Did you size up or go for a wide option?

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I actaully go for the normal width! I have really wide feet but for me the natural flex of the shoe works enough for me :slight_smile:

I can also add that ALL other shoes on the market, except for Raphas shoes, dont fit me due to my wide feet.

Also, I’m a dandy so want white shoes, and in Sweden you cant get the white in wide :wink:

Just another opinion here. If you have width concerns but wide width are too wide, Lake XC shoes offer a wider toe box than Shimano, Specialized or Giro in comparable models. At least the feel that way to my feet. I’m running MX237 endurance (now replaced by MX238) that are great for my feet & have eliminated my forefoot & toe pain issues.


I need very wide toe boxes myself and have found Lake to be a life saver. What’s particularly useful for me is the at home heat molding that can be done with them. My ankles are pretty narrow which makes it difficult to find shoes in general. Wide toe box and normal/narrow heel is not common.

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I bought a pair of SWorks road shoes a while back that caused insane pain on my ankle. The Sworks MTB shoes have been perfect. Also picked up some Pearl MTB flats and they caused unmanageable pain on the top of my foot, but the Shimano ones I bought at the same time were fine.

Sometimes shoes just don’t work for us.

I’d say order the 46 and wear them at your desk while you work/do bills etc. I had the same issue, and it turned out the curve of the toe was too aggressive in 45. 46 lined up with my arch and knuckles better.

Do a control… today pull the insoles out of your shoes and wear them at your desk for an hour+. Then repeat for the larger size. If it’s the curve, they’ll hurt even without doing any exercise. FWIW, the wider aren’t much wider.

Does anyone have any experience with the Bont Riot MTB+ shoes?

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I have XC9’s with IceBug slim/medium insoles. If I crank the front Boa too much it can cause issues. When/if it happens I pop the front dial and change my pedaling (quadrant drills to the rescue!) or just stop and walk around in my socks a bit. I’m going to give the S-Works body geometry insoles as the metatarsal bump in the IceBugs is VERY prominent and could be part of my own problem.

So I measured my feet using the method
Described on Specialized’s Retül site:

Based on my measurements, they recommended I go with size 44, which is my normal size (10.5). I ordered the S-Works Recon and will give them a try around the house before I mount cleats to see how they feel.

Lake MX241 are my shoe of choice. I have weird feet issues and had an orthopedist create a custom orthotic and put a pair in my Lake shoes and they feel more comfortable than my standard trainers. The shoes have a wide toe box and the BOAs tighten in two different independent areas. The soles are stiff, too, if you need to put down lots of power.

A really good bike fitter will also consider custom shoe inserts, not just bike adjustments. James from Francis Cade’s channel discussed this recently. Whether you do it yourself or through a fitter, an insert may help.