The AM9 takes its place as Shimano's top-tier gravity shoe, the replacement to the AM45, and the MP66 before that. The overall style remains the same, with a sort of futuristic skate shoe look, but the weight has been drastically reduced thanks to the use of EVA foam, and there's now a velcro strap over the top of the lace cover. The tread design has also changed, with a more aggressive pattern at the toe and heel for extra off-the-bike traction.
Shimano AM9 Details
• Intended use: DH / all-mountain
• Asymmetrical design protect ankle
• Extended cleat channel
• Sizes: 36-48
• Weight: 464 grams (size 45, per shoe)
• MSRP: $140 USD
Nobody likes smacking their ankles into crankarms and frames, which is why the AM9s have an asymmetrical cuff to provide a little extra protection. Underfoot, the shoes have an extended cleat mounting area, along with what Shimano calls their “Pedal Channel,” a rectangular groove in front of and behind the cleat. That groove is supposed to help guide the shoe (and the attached cleat) towards the correct spot on a pedal. Available in sizes 36-48, the AM9's MRSP is $140 USD. On the Trail
I've traditionally had good luck with the fit of Shimano's shoes, and that trend continued with the AM9. Compared to more cross-country oriented kicks that can make you wonder if you're getting ready to perform a ballet routine or go riding, the AM9s feel like a pair of comfy skate shoes. The width is similar as well, something that riders with wider feet will appreciate.
For most of the test period I paired the AM9 shoes with Xpedo's GFX
pedals, which have a wide platform around the clip-in mechanism that gives them a profile similar to a pair of flat pedals. With that setup I didn't have any issues with the AM9's sole stiffness – my feet felt well supported and comfortable, even on multi-hour trail rides. The rear portion of the AM9's sole is more flexible than the area underfoot, which makes it easier to drop those heels when charging through the rough stuff. Off the bike the shoes are easy to walk in, and there was plenty of traction for scrambling out of steep ravines or hiking up to a scenic overlook.
It was on pedals with a smaller platform, like Shimano's M530, that I felt the AM9's sole stiffness could stand to be increased slightly. They're not as stiff as Specialized's 2FO Clip shoes, for example, and at times it felt like my feet were curling a little too
much over the pedal body. Of course, these shoes are aimed more at the gravity crowd, and when used with a wider platform pedal they work perfectly, but it's something to keep in mind depending on your clipless pedal preference.
In wet weather the lace cover comes in handy, and although the shoes aren't waterproof, the cover does help keep your feet from getting fully saturated during a downpour. One welcome change over the previous version is that the lace cover is thinner, and that, combined with the lighter weight construction, helped keep my feet from ever feeling like they were on fire during mid-summer rides. After months of use the AM9s still look respectable, and other than some scuffing on the ankle cuff they've held up quite well – I don't have any complaints when it comes to durability. Pinkbike's Take
|When paired with wider platformed clipless pedals the AM9 shoes are extremely comfortable, like an SPD-compatible pair of bedroom slippers. That comfort does falter a little with narrower pedals due to the not-so-stiff sole, but overall, these are a good option for everything from bike park laps to general trail riding. - Mike Kazimer|
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