Really, I'm moving into the year 2009 with a bullet! Brand new SPD compatible shoes. Say it ain't so, Joe. I finally got tired of looking at the purple on my mid 90's Nike Ngubas. Good shoes that have lasted really well, but I never really loved them. Interior fabric was kind of creepy and I didn't like touching it. The laces always picked up tons of foxtails and assorted stickers along the trails.
I searched long and hard among shoe label companies (all actually made at the same factory in China by very dexterous four year olds) to find just the right shoe. Had to have leather, full lugged bottom, and not cost $330. Looked at Sidi and they are plastic shoes with dainty little cleats that cost too much. AND I CAN'T STAND THEIR WEBSITE! Next came Diadora. I like their fit (have a road-ish pair already) and the price is right on their X-Country models. But made of plastic with the wimpy little cleats on the bottom. Shimanos looked too Shimano-ey. Finally came across the MX-190 from Lake. Leather? Check. Full lugged? Oh god, yes! Cheap? $79 on sale at Jenson usa. Score!
The only downside is that the toe is kind of narrow and pointy, so I had to go a size up (they come in 1/2 sizes, which is cool!) to get that area to be comfortable for me. That's normal for me in bike shoes except Diadora which is kind of wider in the toe box. The shoes have one of those fancy buckle thingies which looks like it'll break or get worn out pretty soon. I'm going to get some extra buckle parts to have on hand for when it inevitably breaks.
But take a look at that lugged sole! Full Vibram rubber sole. No problem wearing them on the hike a bike sections which come into play when I ride. The front end isn't as fully lugged as I'd like. They have those screw in cleat thingies but the fixed lugs are small and I can see they won't grab super well when climbing up a steep hill. Also the bolt tops there contact the ground when you walk, which isn't so good for traction. You can see where they're already getting polished from walking on them. I can deal.
So yeah, happy camper. Cool shoes and a real good experience w/ Jenson. They're an semi-close LBS for me, but also have a pretty good web presence. I bought two sizes not knowing which to get and had ZERO problems returning the unused shoes. Good deal!