I switch back and forth between flat pedals and clipless pedals on my bike so I have a need for decent shoes for each discipline. When Shimano contacted me recently to arrange a few reviews of their new shoes I was on the fence about which all-mountain (AM) shoe to try out.
Shimano offers the AM45 which is SPD-compatible and the AM41 which is made for flat pedals only. Since I already own a set of flat shoes with SPD compatible soles I went for the AM41s. After lacing up and hitting the trail in the AM41s, these shoes quickly became my go-to shoe for everyday use and riding. Talk about one of the most comfortable bike-specific flat shoes around! Compared to a few other shoes I have tried, these feel a bit more like regular shoes.
The AM41 is packed with several comfort-related features. For starters, these shoes feature a new Vibram sole designed for traction and maximum pedal surface contact. Using a honeycomb matrix of small hex-shaped blocks in the middle of the shoe (for maximum pedal interface), and a more dense semi-slick design fore and aft (for longer sole life and traction on rock), the sole is maximized for all conditions.
Up top, Shimano choose wisely again with synthetic materials rather than real leather meaning these shoes can get dragged through the wet mud without fear of becoming brittle. Add to that an upper surface which is only perforated, for just the right amount of ventilation, without the use of mesh. If you’re the type who rides in dust or mud, you know how hard mesh can be to keep clean (and how dirt can work its way inside the shoe).
I also really like the lace flap which both adds to the debris protection, not to mention lace snag protection. Add to that a raised-rubber sole fore and aft which further improves durability and longevity of the shoe (IMO all MTB shoes should have this feature). The AM41 features a raised inner support for the ankle, which also acts as protection from rotating crank arms. Coming in at 961grams (size 40) these feel much lighter than any other pair of bike-specific flat shoes I have tried.
Since day one I’ve loved the way these shoes look and feel. In fact I find myself wearing these all the time (even as I write this article). The AM41s are comfortable enough to walk in all day long, and the venting is enough to keep my feet from overheating. Speaking of comfort, the toe box is wide enough even for those like me who have wide feet. Fitting is pretty much bang on–I normally wear a size 46 (11.5) and these fit as expected. Having used these shoes for a few months now, there is no sign of delamination or any defects in the stitching. The sole is holding out well for the amount of riding and walking I am putting these through.
Enough about general use…I am sure you’re wondering at this point how well these hold out on the trail and slopes. Well, I am sold on these shoes. Although this is not an all out super gripper like some of those offered by other manufacturers, these shoes offer a nice balance between overall grip and flexibility. Using the AM41s on both my trail bike in cooler weather and on my DH rig, they haven’t let me down yet.
Traction seemed to be pedal dependent with my 9 pin per side Loaded pedals offering good grip and my spiked Predator pedals from Twenty6 offering even more grip. After all this time the soles are holding out very well with little to no signs of wear. At Blue Mountain where I ride DH most of the time we have a few off-camber turns where you have to moto turn (inside foot off the pedal and out), and there is no issue of wear from ground contact. Finding grip after that is a non-issue as well when it comes to planting my foot back down on a pedal.
Overall, the AM41 is a superior shoe for about $120. These shoes may not offer as much support or protection as other shoes in this category, but they more than make up for it with comfort and good levels of grip. Aesthetically these shoes are low key in design, which for a person like myself is perfect. That way I can wear them all day without having silly questions like, “why are you wearing bike shoes?” Shimano has me sold on these shoes for sure. Check out a pair, and try them out yourself.
Thanks to the folks at Shimano for providing these shoes for review.