Shimano AM9 SPD Shoe Review

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Product Full Name | Shimano AM900 SPD shoes

Retail Price | £99

Available From | Madison

Shimano AM9 – lighter and better than the popular Am45

Ever since Shimano brought the DX shoe out, it’s been difficult to find a hard wearing shoe for the burlier side of riding that matches Shimano’s performance in a variety of conditions.

The AM45 took over the DX and improved on it. The sole was stiffer and offered heavier duty protection – perfect for the DH riders out there, but it became very popular with trail riders due to the covered up laces that kept the weather at bay.  The AM45 was heavy though, and very prone to soaking up water.

For the last couple of years, the Atherton Family have been helping iron out all the minor niggles and came up with this – the Shimano Am9…

Shimano AM9

The Shimano AM9 is a really nice looking shoe. It’s subtle, offers great performance on and off the bike and doesn’t soak up water like a sponge.

The Detail

The AM9 has a huge 200gram weight loss over the AM45, but still manages to feel like a seriously sturdy shoe.

Overall appearance is similar – a high inside ankle protects against crank hits and the characteristic lace flap is there, although is now accompanied by a velcro strap.  This increases foot stability, and is a major bonus for increasing pedalling power.

The upper layout of the AM9 is very similar to the 45 – that shoe worked great so no need to mess with it. One major difference is that the padding is a higher density EVA foam. Although this feels the same and offers similar protection against knocks, it doesn’t absorb anywhere near as much water. This helps stop the concrete welly feeling, and also they dry a lot faster so take longer to develop the damp funk that infests the garage at this time of year.

The major change is the sole – the Atherton’s wanted a sole more appropriate for hike-a-bike action, with a softer compound rubber.

Shimano AM9

The new Shimano AM9 sole is far better than the old version. This sole has a soft compound rubber, and feels ace to walk off the bike. Both the toe and heel have useful lugs that cut in to the ground well.

Out on the Trail

The new Shimano AM9 is seriously comfortable. The same enveloping fit of the AM45 is there, but the lighter weight, EVA foam and velcro strap refine the fit. It’s an exceptionally comfortable shoe and one that feels great all day long.

The new sole is excellent off the bike now too – the toe has a good amount of upward flex, and the lugs really help it cut in to the ground when pushing up for another run. They’re day and night better than the ridiculously slippy Am45s. And the same goes for walking down things- the rear lugs and softer rubber really help and have a sure footed feel.

We tried the Am9 on both Shimano XT SPD pedals, and on Crank Brothers Mallet pedals. On the bigger Mallets, the shoe feels much more like a flat pedal shoe than the previous Am45. It grips the pedal and has more flex in the sole – a better thing for DH riding as you can feel the pedal that bit more which helps when fine tuning your position.

Shimano AM9

The lace flap on the Shimano AM9 is very welcome – especially when your winter riding on a nice day is like this…

As expected, they locate perfectly on Shimano’s SPD pedals. The channel helps locate the pedal, and it is supported well on the cage. This gives a sure footed feel – even when not clipped in.

There is a slight issue though – the sole isn’t as stiff  as the AM45. It has more feel on the pedal – which is something that DH riders look for, but not what the trail riders out there will like as much.

Shimano’s answer to this no doubt is the M200 – their Enduro shoe. The AM9 is directed at DH riders.

It’s not a flexible shoe though, and once used to it you won’t notice it. But it’s noticeably more flexible than everything we’ve been riding recently – including the Specialized 2FO Clipless and 2FO Cliplite.

But it is immensely comfortable and feels excellent all round.

We say

The long awaited update to the AM45 is a result. Excellent performance can now be had off the bike as well as in the saddle, though the slightly more flexible sole will favour the more aggressive riders out there. Those wanting more pedalling performance might want to look at the equally impressive M200.

We love the way the AM9 feels – especially on bigger pedals like the Mallet. It has all the feel of a flat pedal shoe in a highly technical package.


What do you think of the new Shimano AM9?

Let us know in the comments below…

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