Review: Shimano AM902 Clipless Shoes

Mar 26, 2020 at 17:11
by Mike Kazimer  
Shimano AM902 review


Shimano's AM9 shoes have a storied lineage that dates back well over a decade. There have been numerous revisions and model name changes over the years, but the overall concept remains the same - it's still a flat-soled, clipless compatible shoe with a lace cover that's aimed at enduro and DH riders.

It's the catchy-sounding AM902 that's reviewed here. Compared to the previous model (yes, it was called the AM901) the amount of toe protection has been increased, and the uppers have more perforations to increase the breathability.

Still having trouble figuring out the whole loop, swoop, and pull thing? Never fear, the AM9 shoes have a speed lace system – all it takes is one pull to cinch everything down. A velcro panel covers the laces to keep dirt and water out, and a strap at the top of the foot is the final layer of security.

Shimano AM902 Details

• Speed lacing system
• Asymmetric padded collar
• Lace shield
• Extended cleat adjustment range
• Colors: black, navy
• Sizes: 36 - 48
• Weight: 522 grams (per shoe, size 45)
• MSRP: $160 USD
www.bike.shimano.com

There's a wide range of possible cleat positions, with plenty of room to get the cleat further back towards the mid-foot. There's also a channel in front of and behind the cleat that's designed to help make it easier to clip in by guiding the foot into position.

The AM9s are available in black or navy, in sizes 36-48. MSRP: $160 USD.


Shimano AM902 review
Shimano AM902 review

Shimano AM902 review
Shimano AM902 review

Performance

I've had these shoes in the rotation for the last six months, which means they've seen the whole range of riding conditions, everything from Pacific Northwest mud and snow to a couple weeks of sunshine and sharp things in the Arizona desert. Shimano's shoes typically fit my feet very well, and these were no exception, although the fit is a little narrower than it used to be. I had some discomfort around the sixth toe area early on in the testing period, but they eventually broke in and that faded away. All the same, riders with wide feet may not get along with the fit.

Along with being slightly narrower than previous versions, the sole is also stiffer, even though Shimano still gives it a 5 on their scale. That extra stiffness is actually a good thing – it allows the use of pedals with a smaller platform, and keeps them comfortable on longer rides. There's still flexible enough that walking around off the bike feels natural, and there's enough grip that it never felt like I had ice skates on my feet.

The durability has been excellent, and considering how many hours I've spent in them they've held up very well. Other than a few wear marks around the ankle cuff there really aren't any indications of the hard life these shoes have had. That hard life included plenty of mud baths and rainy rides, which is where the AM9s have the edge over shoes without a lace cover. Although they're not waterproof, and deeper puddles are going to dump water over the ankle cuff, that cover does a good job of providing a barrier against moisture and mud, and even when they're fully saturated the AM9s don't retain that much water.




Toe to Toe: Shimano AM902 vs Bontrager Rally

Shimano's AM9 shoes and Bontrager's Rally shoes both fall into the same enduro / DH / do-it-all shoe category, and they're close in price, so it's worth taking a moment to see how they compare.

Weight: The Rally shoes are lighter than the AM9s by a whole 50 grams, a difference I didn't find to be noticeable in the slightest.

Fit: Fit is obviously going to be subjective, but the Rally shoes have a roomier toe box, and more padding around the ankle cuff. I'd say the Rallys feel closer to a skate shoe, while the AM9s have a slightly more performance-oriented fit that also happened to be slightly less comfortable, at least for my feet.

The Rally's sole height is a little bit taller, which does dull the pedal / shoe connection feel a little bit. It's like the difference between wearing extra thick wool socks versus thin cycling socks – the Rally shoes have a more 'muted' feel to them.

Weatherproofing: Neither shoe is overly airy, but on warmer rides the AM9s have the edge due to their better ventilation and thinner padding. That thinner padding, especially around the ankle also means the AM9s are quicker drying and soak up less water in general than the Rally shoes.




Pros

+ Very well constructed
+ Quick drying, lace cover provides weather protection
+ Excellent pedal compatibility, especially with Shimano pedals

Cons

- May not work well for riders with wider feet




Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesShimano ticked all the boxes with the latest version of the classic AM9 - they're comfortable, stiff but not too stiff, and quick drying. They may be aimed at the gravity-oriented crowd, but they're well suited to just about any style of riding other than full-on XC racing. Mike Kazimer








74 Comments

  • 64 0
 These things last for EVER, I've still got the old black an white ones that are as crisp as the day I bought them. When the corona virus wipes out humanity an aliens land in a million years all they will find will be pairs of shimano shoes strangely sitting amongst post apocalyptic rocky, dusty waste land.
  • 6 0
 100% Agree. I have a pair of AM9's that are about 5 seasons old that I use for trail and the AM5's that I use for DH and they are bullet proof. Love these shoes and will definitely get another pair.
  • 4 1
 What about sizing? Shimano was notorious for extra small shoes. Ok, most of the brands are. But how is the size compared to Mavic or Specialized or Ion?
  • 14 28
flag DiscoDog (Apr 2, 2020 at 1:03) (Below Threshold)
 and and and and and anDDDD - not an !!!! Its important to maintain grammatical standards; the end of the world is no excuse!
  • 2 0
 These are what I have they great so far and work really well with crankbrothers mallet pedals the only thing is they are a very small fit I would go another size up form your standard shoe size
  • 3 1
 @mixmastamikal: I am using a pair of Shimano shoes three days a week since last five years and they're still like new. I have never find anything lasting than Shimano.
  • 1 1
 I've still got the white and black ones, they are in better condition than the black and white ones I also have. I like Shimano shoes a lot.
  • 1 0
 I have the original Black & white ones too. Feet stay a heck of a lot drier in those than in my new AM9s. The vents on top of the toe box make no sense. I like a solid toe box for DH. Vented toe box belongs on trail shoes.
  • 1 0
 I have a pair shimano clipless shoes from the early 2000s that I still use... I think I may be due for a new pair?
  • 2 0
 @bikekrieg: The AM9's are a fantastic "do all" shoe, especially if paired with an Enduro caged pedal like the Mallet E.

They feel XC but have just enough protection to let you bash away recklessly and still have a toe if it whacks a rock.

I will say I have last year's AM9 and they have these awesome sawtooth cuts on the front and rear that this AM902 did away with. Not sure why they did because those sawtooth lugs work AWESOME for hike a bike.
Here is a good pic of the front and rear grooves. They sort of "flare" open and bite into the dirt as you push off with your toes or dig in with your heels.
factoryjackson.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Shimano-AM9-11-of-12-2000x1333.jpg

@Mike Kazimer ....any idea why they changed that?
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: Unfortunately can't compare...but I can say this:

I am a 44 shoe and the shimano size 44 is pretty much exactly my length.
I have a slim foot and I need to tighten the laces as hard as possible to keep it snug. It fits fine but you have to snug the laces.

Overall I would assume it should fit most feet except above average americans. Maybe try a half size up.
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: Just wanted to add that I have a 46 in an XC7 and a 46 in an ME7 and the ME7 is much smaller. Wondering if the AM9 is along the same lines. Also I found the ME7 to be very uncomfortable compared to the XC7 but that might be because it's too small.
  • 4 0
 And an ape will come along, put on and clip into an SPD... and it will still work perfectly.
  • 1 0
 Agree, I have the ME7 version and they are holding up very well after almost 3k miles of riding.
  • 2 0
 I bought the grey pair of AM9's 2 years ago, and they are totally bomb proof. A bit of shoe goo on the ankle padding where they rub the crank, and I'll likely get 2 more years out of them. Amazing.
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: Don't know about compared to other brands but I am always a US10/ UK9/ EU43 and these fit perfectly. Slightly more fitted in the toe box than my GR7 and 5.10 MacAskills but less fitted than my 2018 ME-7 shoes.
  • 1 0
 I've never ridden Shimano, so how do they compare to the Five Ten Kestrel or Hellcat?
  • 1 1
 Just tried a pair of these. Pick at least half of a size bigger shoe than what you would normally buy. I am 42-42.5 EU, these in 43 were just spot on and slightly tight if I had a thicker winter sock
  • 1 0
 For real. I have a pair of ME89s that just don't work well for the type of riding that I do these days, but I still use them when I'm on my gravel bike. I honestly can't remember when I got them, but they are still going strong. I also have a pair of ME701s that are legit the best MTB shoe I have ever owned. Shimano makes the only shoe that fits my giant ass feet properly. My 701s look really similar to these AM9s.
  • 1 0
 Wholly agree with this. I got a pair of AM5s in that ugly grey camo 3 years ago and they're still going where my 510 hellcats didn't last a year and a half.
  • 1 0
 I've had 3 pairs of the original DX and then all of the AM9s. I love them, think they are good value, and think they are great for all types of riding. I've never been able to get more than 3 years out of any of them, and they have all torn apart at the toe box at some point. I haven't found them to be super durable for heavy use and a lot of hiking...but I will sure as hell keep buying them.
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: yes they are smaller. I buy them one size larger than my other shoes (44 to 43 EUR) and that fits perfectly.
  • 1 0
 @andrewbikeguide: Hey brother, just measured my foot, it's 28cm long - what size ME7 would you recommend for me? I know someone selling a 45 brand new and I'm hoping they would fit. I have a slightly wide foot.cheers
  • 1 0
 @andrewbikeguide: I'm a US10 running shoe as well (Nike) and my foot is 28cm long. What size ME7 would you recommend? Cheers
  • 1 0
 @TheRealGhostrider: my foot is 27cm and wear a size 43.
  • 1 0
 @deli-hustler: DHustler thanks for the reply. So that should mean that 44.5 would be my perfect size in the ME7. I guess with socks I should be ok in the 45 then. Hmm
  • 1 0
 @TheRealGhostrider: shouldn't be far away.
  • 1 0
 Got the black & white ones still. Best bud has the white version. Also have last years grey AM9. Best part of it was I went a half size up from what I normally do. It allows the front of the toe box to flex a bit when I'm hike a biking and the grip on last year's was better than this new style. They have "gator scales" on the front of the toe box that make digging in going uphill more natural.

I am still not in love with having vents on top of the toe box. DH & Enduro you are hauling and not dodging puddles like you might if you were on a trail ride & that airy toe box lets water in.

BUT...the new ones are easily half the weight of the Black ones & white ones. And get the old ones wet at all and the weight multiplies whereas in the new ones, they don't hold much water at all.

I've settled on slapping a small piece of duct tape over the toe box if I'm going out in mucky conditions and it's a game changer.
  • 12 2
 "I had some discomfort around the sixth toe area"
Errrrr.... I've only got 5.
  • 5 0
 Ha, me too. The sixth toe area refers to the fifth metatarsal, the base of your pinky toe. It’s a common term in the ski world - that’s the spot that can cause pain in tight boots.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: do they make a wide version like most of shimano's other shoes?
  • 1 0
 @mtbman1980: I have a wide foot as well. While I don't think they make a "wide version" the more trail and gravity oriented shoes fit wider than the other brands out there. I have some ME701s that fit perfect. I'm a size 48 wide, but again the shoes aren't specified as a "wide fit," but they do fit my wider foot well.
  • 1 0
 @mtbman1980: I take a wide shoe in my Shimano XC90s (carbon soled no compromise XC race shoe) and my AM 9s fit just fine.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Ah yes i definitely understand
  • 9 0
 Missed opportunity with the naming there Shimano. Should have been the BH90210
  • 1 0
 that's surprisingly easy to remember Also it am902 meaning all mountain version 2 And then the lower end one is am702 so.. it makes sense when you step back and look at everything but not if you're only focusing on one Gmbn made a good video for this because it includes all the Shimano shoes
  • 3 0
 Can someone explain to me what the difference is between this and the ME7 shoes? I realise that the ME7 has a ratchet strap as opposed to the velcro on display here and that the ME7 has a lugged sole rather than the flat rubber on this AM9, but why would one choose one over the other? Is it just looks? I get that one's "enduro/trail" and the other is "enduro/DH", but is that just marketing speak or is there a practical difference?
  • 2 0
 I'd be keen to know this too
  • 2 0
 The me7 has a stiffer sole and the am9 is designed for large cage pedals. Like mallet dh etc. The flat sole of the am9 works better on big wide pedals.
  • 3 0
 AMs feel like a skate shoe - more flex in the sole, and to me feel kinda wierd with spds without a cage. ME7s are stiffer - I prefer this feeling. Plus they’re pretty grippy for then you need to climb back up a steep section of trail.
  • 1 0
 @mikelee: Thanks Mike, that does make sense. I have noticed that screws in wide cage pedals don't really engage with the sole of the ME7 shoes. I suppose in that sense there is a bit of a practical difference and does open up the option of one preference over the other.
  • 1 0
 I have AM5 and ME7 shoes. The AM range generally have more padding and will protect you a bit more in a crash or when you hit your foot on a rock. They do feel a bit more skater shoe like and are warmer. The ME7 is more performance focused - stiffer but not too stiff, lighter weight, well ventilated and dry super quick. I generally use my AM5s for winter or very wet riding and the ME7s for warmer weather or racing. I also use my AM5s for commuting on my road bike as they like like relatively normal looking shoes when off the bike and are great to walk in.
  • 2 7
flag IllestT (Apr 2, 2020 at 5:10) (Below Threshold)
 The ME7 shoe was the most disappointing Shimano product I've ever bought. I'd rather wear sandals. Far too mushy and a net-top toe box? Wtf?
  • 5 0
 @IllestT: I don't discount your experience, but my ME7s are not just the most comfortable bike shoes I have ever owned, there may be the most comfortable shoes I own. Out of a dozen or more pairs of bike shoes, they are by far the best I have ever owned. Also, a year in and they barely show any wear.
  • 1 0
 @IllestT: And they changed that on the 2019 model. It was based on feed back from racers who wanted ventilation for summer racing and quick drying.
  • 1 0
 @IllestT: and yet you are the one that bought them. Perhaps you purchased the wrong shoe for your needs?
I have shimano gr-5 with a mesh over the toes...I didn’t buy them expecting waterproofing. This is the second pair of Shimano shoes for me and they’ve both been brilliant.
  • 1 0
 I have both shoes. Well a set of the am9 for 2 years ago and the latest me701. I wear the am9 for bike park and the odd wet sloppy shuttle but wear the 701s for any pedalling as the stiffness is preferable for any reasonable pedalling. As others have commented the am9 does work nicer with the mallet e or Dh. Good to have both!
  • 2 0
 @CircusMaximus: I don't disagree - I did buy the wrong shoe, but not like you can try before you buy! Just got to take a chance with shoes, to a certain extent.
Replaced them with Spesh 2F0 with boadial, which are far stiffer
  • 1 0
 @IllestT: cheers. Stay safe my friend
  • 2 0
 I’ve had a bunch of Shimano shoes. I have narrow, low volume (flat) feet, and their size US 10/ Eur 44 shoes have always fit me well, regardless of model. I think they are true to size for length, but a bit on the narrow side.
  • 2 0
 I have a pair of the AM901s. IME the speed laces are pretty much junk if you ride in abrasive mineral dust, e.g. Mt. Stromlo. Mine lasted about 50 hours of riding before they wore through and left me on the trail with a loose shoe. Finding replacement speed laces locally turned out to be impossible but they will (just) accept regular boot laces. Other than that minor annoyance, I think they're pretty good.

My feet were too wide for the Shimano XM9 hiking boots but these aren't a problem. They could do with some better arch support out of the box though.
  • 1 0
 Looking more closely, it looks like the metal eyelet that caused the problem with the laces on the 901s doesn't exist any more and to compensate, the velcro strap has been redesigned to provide better tension. That seems like a sensible change.
  • 1 0
 Same here, speed lace disinterested after 4 months. My old am9s outlasted the new 901s
  • 2 0
 I had the me7s a few years ago and the sole delaminated after a few months of riding. Same thing happened to a friend’s pair. I got the gray and blue AM9s and they are much better. They’re more durable, the weight is about the same, they are stiff enough, and very comfortable. AM9s are the best clipless MTB shoes I’ve ever owned. I also tried the 510 kestrels and the AM9s blow those out of the water - so much more comfortable.
  • 1 0
 That's interesting, the ME7s must have improved since then. I have had a pair of ME7s for a year. They've been in the hot, the cold, the wet, the dry, and through a few laundry cycles, and they're still going strong. My husband was so jealous that he bought his own pair and switched to clipless and says they're the most comfortable shoes he has ever owned Smile
  • 2 0
 I don't know why all riding shoes don't come with lace covers...they are the bomb! Sombrio made some flat pedal shoes called the Shazam.....mine are 6 seasons old and the soles are done...they are great shoes. I wish they would make them again!
  • 4 0
 April Fools! Good one shimano! Subtle, but I am loling here. Great bunch of lads.
  • 1 0
 I always click on shoe reviews for some reason, I don't know why. I have AM7s and I feel like they're going to last forever. Three seasons of daily use and they still look new. By time I'm ready to replace them, everyone's shoe lines will have changed, and I'll probably just get the newer version of the AM7s.
  • 3 0
 Cleat channel depth aka the head angle of the shoe world? Always missing, so easy to measure...
  • 3 0
 I've never had shoes give me trouble with my sixth toe, but definitely had some shorts feel right on my third leg.
  • 1 1
 Why is the trend for gravity spd shoes to be mushy and flexy?
If 1 = flip flops, and 10 = setting your foot in concrete, I'd like something around 7 or 8 for riding DH
Stiffest gravity shoe I've found so far is Spesh 2F0 boadials (not the lace ups)
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer The Rally and the AM9 have been on my shortlist. I've got flatlines and the fit is great! So I am leaning towards the rally's but I am wondering which of the two shoes allows for more rearward cleat placement?
  • 1 0
 Am45’s (black and white version of these) were like $40-50 for such a long time...I probably have had three pairs of those over a decade.

Can’t believe how expensive these are in comparison lol
  • 3 0
 Why are clipless shoes always exactly what I want, except I want them for flat pedals.
  • 1 0
 The shimano size chart is different than most other shoes. Normally 9.5 /43. Anyone know if the fit normally despite the size chart?
  • 1 0
 I normally buy Shimano 45 every time with great results. My AM9's that I bought 2 years ago (almost identical) also fit great with size 45, but I've heard others say to go a size up with these... I have fairly narrow feet though.
  • 1 0
 I have a fairly wide foot and wear a size 13 in FiveTen, will the Shimano 48s actually fit? or should I look elsewhere? Thanks!
  • 1 0
 Love my AM901s and they're due for replacement but ive also been considering the new RC Transitions. How do they compare to these new 902s? @mikekazimer
  • 2 0
 Regarding sizing I went up one size and they are perfect.
  • 2 0
 Guess I'm never getting these . The old ones will last forever seemingly
  • 1 0
 Mike, what gravity oriented shoes would you recommend for a wide footed friend? Clipless or for platform?
  • 1 0
 48 isn’t big enough. Some people who mountain bike are tall, Shimano product manager dingus.
  • 1 0
 i don't know about the rest of you but iv'e only got 5 toes of each foot.......
  • 1 0
 Been buying MTB shoes since early 80's...these are the BEST!!

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