The best SPD shoe ever ?
I've been giving these Shimano AM9 a good thrashing for a few months now and they are so good that I'm pretty much refusing to wear anything else. On my feet that is.
I know you must be sick of namby pamby reviews and recently mine have been full of praise. Also you must have an inkling that unless a reviewer works for the mighty Pinkbike and can therefore say whatever he/she wants, then every other product review can be pretty much ignored. I want to assure you that as an independent reviewer I can also dis a product if it deserves it. (I have some doozies coming up I assure you).
But these AM9's really are the schizzle. They carry on the line of the DH clip shoe from the old MP66 and the more recent AM45 in a similar fashion but have gone lighter, more comfy, added grip and a long rearward cleat channel for modern riders who know it's best to get their foot more over the pedal.
At 217 grams lighter than the old AM45 they feel just great on the feet. Even though they are very water resistant due to the tongue cover and minimal venting, they don't get hot at all like the AM45 suffered. I have just come back from riding in the heat of an autumn Sedona (27 degrees) and didn't get noticeably sweaty feet and was still happy to keep the AM9's on for coffee and beer drinking afterwards. Talking about getting them wet, It seems most of the weight has been removed via excess padding, so they dry out real quick , in fact they seem to dry faster than any XC shoe I have ever had.
The cleats can be mounted further back than any shoe I've seen yet and the long cleat recess aids pedal entry and also gives the rider a much more stable platform when riding the pedal unclipped in the instep
Another huge win is the high sided protection at the crank/ankle collision point. I nearly faint when I smack my ankle hard on the crank and I'm sure I'm not the only one this happens to.
The laces are thick, slightly stretchy and are easy to tie and re-adjust. The velcro strap adds security and can be tightened on the fly until you get a chance to stop and re-tie your laces. The tongue cover keeps your feet dry splashing through puddles and shallow streams and is unpadded so doesn't bulk the shoe up unnecessarily.
One thing I have discovered is that non-Kiwis must have narrower feet than us, as a whole lot of shoes on the market are just too narrow for many of my riding buddies. The AM9 is one of the wider platforms on the market so this could be a clincher for you.
I use these shoes mainly on my caged Shimano DH pedals and the feel is fantastic. I also use them on my Shimano XT trail pedals where sole support is minimal and I do notice a bit more flex then, but not enough to think about changing them out. If power is your thing and you want max output then you may want to look elsewhere but that's about the only minor issue with the AM9 sole stiffness.
I personally think Shimano have hit the trail shoe nail on the head with the AM9. Light, comfy, water resistant, breathable, far rearward cleats, good toe, outer foot and ankle protection ....and I think they look great and at under $200 rrp I don't think anyone could complain about what you see here.