Shimano AM9 SPD shoes – Reviewed by Tobe GXSyndicate (2019)

If you’ve been bothered to read my recent review of the Funn Mamba Single sided clip-in pedals then you’d know that I’m new to being clipped-in. Really new.

To say I’ve been a little nervous about swapping to clipped is an understatement. I’ve been so used to moving my feet about the pedals at will and unconsciously lifting off and on that it’s been a bit of a step change.

Choosing the right shoes has been far harder than I ever imagined. Firstly, there seems to be bugger all stock of size 10 or 10.5 (brand dependent) shoes, or good ones, across the UK at time of writing. Secondly, I have wide feet and this narrowed it down somewhat (groans) and lastly, we ride shitty trails that somehow retain boggy areas in the hottest of UK summers and wet feet is always an issue. That itself leads to further needs, materials, drying times, grip etc.

After ordering several pairs from a number of places (visits to LBS’s proved fruitless due to unavailable sizes) I finally opted for the Shimano AM9’s. Apparently the preferred shoe of one Rachel Atherton. Reviews had these down as generous in width with tendancy to be a little short so I sized up a .5 and opted for the UK 10.5. This proved to be a good choice as they arrived the day before a ride and fit like a dream. The fit is helped by a speed cinch-lace system which works very quickly, even with gloves on, and leave the shoes feeling secure and very comfortable.

There is also a strap that pulls back across the top of the shoe, just above the speed lace (see pics) which gives an extra feel of security and an excellent velcro-backed flap that pulls across the entirety of the top of the shoe’s lace system keeping water, mice, dirt etc out of the mix whilst riding in the mucky stuff as we, more often than not, find ourselves doing.

The (size 10.5) shoes weigh in at a respectable 960gms for the pair which is very respectable and very different to the Five Ten Impacts that I’m used to. The Five Ten’s are built for big hits and one might expect the Shimano AM9’s to be less robust due to their low weight but this isn’t the case. Shimano have chosen materials well and the shoes feel solid and well made. There’s also a lovely reinforced rubber toe cap for when those potatoes fly up off the trail or that stump appears out of the otherwise soft loam. The soles are stiff but have enough flex to feel sensitive to the trail and have a very clever, and well designed, channel in the bottom (see pics) in which the cleats sit. Firstly, this is great when walking in the shoes and you don’t sound like a horse when approaching people on those fancy wooden pub floors. More importantly, when riding, the channels allow me to ride the flat side on those Mamba’s I’m running and seems to help the shoe grip on the clipped side if you miss the clip whilst riding something rough. This is something I find very confidence inspiring. The rubber isn’t a patch on that found on the super tacky Five Ten’s but it’s actually quite good and Shimano haven’t let themselves down here at all.

Included in the box is a set of plates for the cleats, a couple of red plastic spacers and some sticky sheets. The plates are very easy to fit and have a great range for adjustment. The little red spacers make sense and I can see the advantage they give in keeping things fitted. The little sticky sheets are pretty much impossible to get into positio due to the shoe not opening up fully at the lace aperture and I gave up and stuck some wide Gorilla tape in instead which actually works a treat and keeps water out.

After a number of rides the first thing that jumps out is the comfort. There’s non of that new shoe rub you sometimes come to expect. They also do a good job of keeping muck out and that top flap deflects water well. The shoes have micro vents (small holes) to allow breathing but I have had slightly damp feet on every ride so far. This, it seems, is from sweat (something I’ve not had before) and I feel that the shoe could be vented sightly better. It’s not a deal killer though and that dirt/water resistance is potentially worth the sacrifice of airy feet.
Power transmission is good although there is more flex than other shoes I’ve tried in this process. If you’re riding egg beaters you might notice it more. It’s not an issue with the uber wide platformed Mamba’s.

I still need to get more miles in on these but so far, they’re proving to be an excellent purchase and I’m happy with the confidence they’re giving me.

The techy bit:
Weight: 960grms as tested, with plates attached
Pedal Channel for closer connection to platform
Grippy sole when walking
Quick drying
Speed lace system
Lace shield
Moulded/Armoured toe cap

Overall score 8.5/10