Shimano AM9 Shoes - Review

Sep 13, 2016
by Mike Kazimer  
Shimano AM9 review

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.

Shimano AM9 review
A lace cover helps keep water and debris at bay.
Shimano AM9 review
The asymmetrical cuff shields those vulnerable ankle bones.

Shimano AM9 review
There's room for a wide variety of cleat mounting positions.
Shimano AM9 review
Spaceman slippers? The AM9's look can be polarizing, but they sure are comfy.

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
bigquotesWhen 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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  • 55 8
 Advice for flat pedalers: don't get excited by the cool look of these and then go buy the flat version, the am7. They are slippery and just plain dangerous even on the sharpest of pinned pedals. Shimano basically just took these fancy cleat versions and slapped a flat sole on. It's terrible.
  • 22 24
 Disagree. I have the AM41 which have the exact same sole, which is great. Just make sure you have proper pedals (but that applies to all shoes). I pair them with some DMR Vaults Brendawgs on my DH bike, which is a perfect combo.
  • 14 1
 @MTB-Colada: i have the flat am7 and i agree with marcus. they are terrible for grip. my teva links are massively better but my five tens are massively better than the tevas. also they just don't have the comfort of the other shoes. i did a couple days on them in the apps and my feet were in bits. thought i may have to have a rest day but swapped to tevas and carried on riding without missing a run. massively disappointed with the am7
  • 6 0
 @MTB-Colada: Agree with Marcus too. My friend has them and uses them with vaults, is considering resoling them with a stealth rubber kit. Reckons they're worse than his worn out tevas and much, much worse than his impacts.
  • 6 1
 I really want 5.10s but they don't have the asymmetric ankle protection. I'm always twatting my ankle bones on the cranks when I use flat shoes. I'm going to check out those new ion flat shoes when they come out.
  • 7 1
 @jaame: Too bad they don't make the karvers anymore.
  • 1 0
 @jaame: just check for kovarik's Karver or for the Raven..they're still available at some shop and both great shoes..
  • 2 1
 @filryan: Got to disagree with both of you. I have these which are really good and the AM7s which aren't as quite good as their predecessor.

They did slip a bit but I found this was mostly countered by taking some of the small washers out of the pins on my Saint flat pedals. I reckon they're about 95% as grippy as the AM41s (which are battered to feck but I sitll have) are. But agreed a bit disappointing when they are a £70 set of shoes, I did feel a bit let down.
  • 12 2
 @veero: no one ever says a five ten "did slip a bit", which was only "mostly" countered by lengthening the pins and found the grip "a bit disappointing".

So uh... maybe we're right?
  • 5 0
 @AgrAde: and neither did I. I've never tried Five Tens and didn't say they did slip.

I bought the AM7s because the AM41s were so good.

When I said I disagree with you both I thought my comment would be directly underneath the comment I was replying to, not at the bottom under a whole load of unrelated replies.

Chill out, I'm not dissing your beloved Five Tens :p
  • 9 1
 @veero: I hate five ten Frown I will love them again when they start making shoes that don't fall apart. They used to, back when they were half the price.

Or I'll love shimano when they make a shoe that grips... I don't know what's so hard about it!
  • 2 0
 @AgrAde: crazy good warranty process though. Send a pic of sole/upper/label to whoever you bought them from and get a new pair sent out without returning them.
  • 2 0
 @jaame: I ride 5-10 high top cyclones. Best shoe I've ever worn for aggressive riding. They don't make the cyclone anymore but search around on the web. High top clipless with stealth rubber all leather uppers, and they wear like iron. Just the right amount of stiffness too. IDK why they don't make them anymore. Apparently they weren't a big seller.
  • 2 0
 @AgrAde: what's so hard about it is 5-10 has the patent on Stealth rubber compound. IDK what's in it but the stuff is like magic. Wish they made tires out of it!
  • 3 1
 Shit i have been using the AM7 with a set of saint flats and have no issues whatsoever. I am usually doing rough and rowdy downhill and have yet to slip a pedal.
  • 3 0
 @AgrAde: I still wear my Karvers, and they're still going strong after I don't know how many years. They might look like massive blue clown shoes, but I love em too much to care. Had a pair of those green and white AM40s once and they were good for sliding around on the pedals, but not much else.
  • 1 0
 @sicmoto: How long do they honour the warranty for? Reckon my Karvers are 5 years old, they are holding up really well, but the tops are just starting to go round the lace holes so would be good to get em replaced.
  • 1 1
 @fattyheadshok: 5-10 may own the trademark Stealth but hardly the only manufacturer of quality sticky rubber. Vibram makes awesome rubber compounds for La Sportiva and Scarpa and could make a sole with 5-10 grip for other companies.

The strange thing is the chosen vibram compound on riding shoes are clearly optimized for durability over grip.

Intense actually made tires of stealth rubber back in the day.
  • 1 0
 I have the am5 and would definitely buy them again. They don't look bad and are pretty waterproof, plus only like £50. One thing is they are pretty heavy however i guess most shoes are unless you are doing XC. I personally wouldn't buy these over the am5's as they are good and they have the same bottom as the am7, however it works fine with the clips as well. I wouldn't get the am7 though because looking at the bottom of my am5 it looks like the pins dont sit in the hexagonal holes they are meant to but rip the bottom a bit. durability wise they are 6 months strong with no problems as well. bit of a fiddle to put in i could say but thats it other than the weight to be honest.
  • 4 0
 funny I have the AM7 and love them , way more comfortable then my 5/10,s , as for them being slippery , can,t say I notice it , what conditions do you ride in ?? I am in BC and have no issues .
  • 3 1
 I have the opposite feeling. I just got the AM7 and they are by far the best flat-pedal shoe I have used.
  • 2 0
 @krissboo: Two years I believe! Five years is a good hawl!
  • 1 0
 @AgrAde: still on five ten falcons 2014 and they still hold up fine...
  • 2 0
 I have 5/10's and half the time I wear my falling apart backyard BBQing shoes just because they're easier to put on. It doesn't really make a huge difference in my opinion, it's not like I'm going to the biking Olympics or anything anyway.
  • 1 0
 @sicmoto: Cheers mate, I might send CRC an email anyway. I'm amazed how well they've held up but I've probably jinxed them now and they'll fall apart the next time I put em on Wink
  • 1 0
 @fattyheadshok: They did make tires out of it. Intense licensed 5.10 rubber and shoes in the early 2000s. The shoes were ok (my uppers fell apart) but the tires ejected knobs faster than Schwalbes and weighed a TON.
  • 29 1
 i have them they are good
  • 12 0
 it is so
  • 11 0
 That is the case
  • 11 1
 correct you are
  • 13 0
  • 5 1
 Indeed, it is true.
  • 10 1
 Is Shimano ever going to release a new DH pedal?
  • 3 0
 Hoping for big wide platform. Heard crazy stories like peoples xt pedals lasting 15 years!
  • 1 0
 @ibishreddin: I'm 2 years in and they have been absolutely battered, still spinning brilliantly despite the gashes all over them from rock strikes. Ridiculously easy to service as well. Excited for a new DH pedal.
  • 1 0
 @sicmoto: Didn't they have some prototype pedals floating round a while ago? It was a metal surround from memory, with 4 pins per side, the looked brilliant.
  • 4 0
 m636 pedal from the 90s.
1st "DH" pedal shimano made, still the best imo. I still have a couple of pairs in use.
  • 2 0
 @FurryCrew: yes! I bought a pair of those as new old stock in Schladming 3 years ago. They're now on my mate's bike and still going strong.
  • 1 0
 @FurryCrew: I agree to they are great pedals. Just to point out you can still buy them as Shimano m636 = Keywin DH and you can buy them online.
  • 1 0
 @ibishreddin: I've still got a pair of the original SPD's from 1990 which still work perfectly!
  • 1 0
 @bigtim: my wife has a set she has used a few times but she went back to flats. Other than a few scratches they are perfect. Breaks my heart to see them sitting in a box.
  • 1 0
 @FurryCrew: they were decent but I still bent 3 to 4 pedal a season .
  • 11 4
 Hands down the dopest dope Ive ever smoked
  • 5 0
 Way better than the old model and look better too!
  • 1 0
 I have gone from the 45 to the 9. The 9 is way lighter and more comfortable but one thing that annoys the bejesus out of me is the way that sometimes the flap flings open when it hits trail debri. Probably symptomatic of the feral trails I like to ride but still its something that never happened with the AM45. Even so I still prefer the AM9 as the comfort and lightness are that much better
  • 2 1
 I have had these for six months over our winter. Perfect in cold weather. Best wet weather shoe. I usually take a wide shimano shoe and found these to be comfy. Clips in precisely every time. Heel lifts when walking uphill. Light. Sole feels like it bends over my xt platforms but they may be because my other shoes are carbon sole XC90s. Quite light for this style of shoe. Would buy them again.
  • 1 0
 That's my experience as well. My favorite pair of clip in shoes so far. Really comfortable if you end up doing some hike-a-bike. They match my mega tr frame as well.
  • 4 0
 So they'd make a good UK summer shoe
  • 1 0
 the bending over the platform pedal thing. is that a drawback? does it bug you or cause foot pain/fatigue??
  • 1 0
 @jamesbrant: let's call it flex. It might be normal. Before these I only ever used ultra stiff xc race shoes or flex five tens on flats.
  • 1 0
 A couple of things that was not mentioned in the review is that these pedals pair up perfect with the newer xt trail pedals (8020). They are wider and give a great contact patch with this shoe. I am really loving them so far. They are as comfortable as skate shoes, and are actually crazy light for a well protected shoe. I am using them from everything from DH to trail.
  • 4 0
 Is the new ME7 better though? Comparison please.
  • 4 0
 Best shoes I've owned..... AM9's. Love em
  • 1 1
 I bought a pair of these.
Look and felt like they were made of plastic, and no matter how tight I made 'em(to the point where they were digging into the tops of my feet), they still moved around a bit while pedaling. SO many better options out there for the price
  • 7 0
 So basically they didn't fit your feet?
  • 1 0
 I have very low volume feet as well and had the same issue with my AM45s. I picked up some Specialized Cliplites and they fit much narrower. Plus the BOA connectors allow consistent tightness. The Giro Terraduro is also a lot narrower.
  • 2 0
 The price has sky rocketed from the AM45. Luckily my 45s look set to last for years.
  • 1 0
 Me too but I find them too heavy and cumbersome. Not a great shoe in my opinion
  • 1 0
 @jaame: I went from the AM45s to the AM9s, and the 9's are a far slimmer and lighter shoe, that holds better on my foot and isn't as bulky as the 45's. Still keeping the 45's for mud thrashing though.
  • 1 0
 they are only $95 if you look in the right place.worth every penny.
  • 1 0
 Opinions are like A holes. Everybody has one. I like mine as I have wider feet and ride CB Mallets. Very comfortable and enough stiffness for longer rides and climbs.
  • 1 3
 I thought the whole point of clipless shoes was that the sole needed to be extra stiff for power transfer. why the hell would you buy a clipless shoe with a a floppy sole? I can say that I've never hit my ankles on the cranks and that all that asymmetric cuff will do is collect a ton of dirt, weeds, rocks, etc on the low side.
  • 2 0
 It's definitely not only about power transfer. Being able to un weight the bike while going over rough stuff and being able to pull up and push down are just a couple of the benefits. If you end up doing hike a bike frequently it's nice to not have the stiffest sole possible. I ride these on slx pedals with some platform and xt without any platform and they are comfortable. The cuff hasn't collected any debris for me yet. My feet are on the large side so the inside has seen many scuffs on my cranks.
  • 1 0
 Love mine, although a size too small as bought online but will get round to purchasing another set a size bigger
  • 1 0
 I'm a 43 but need a 44 in all my shimangos
  • 1 0
 I've been LOVING this shoe!!! Soooo comfortable! And they work sooooo well with the XT pedals!
  • 1 0
 Very stormtrooper. If they are in white and black I might be interested. #fivetens for life
  • 2 1
 2FO Clip FTW in every way. Sorry.
  • 1 0
 First paragraph: "toe and HEEL"!
  • 4 4
 Ugliest shoes I have ever seen. I would rather wear mukluks and a unitard.
  • 4 0
 I am making a voodoo doll for all who negative hit such wisdom. Standby for what is in store for you and your "life".
  • 2 3
 jump on the Specialized Cliplites ... The Mavic Crossmax are great also.
  • 3 6
 Ugly as ..

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