New for 2018 from Shimano is the AM7 shoes. Following on from the AM5/7/9 series shoes released in previous years the AM7 (model SH-AM701) is designed as a trail and enduro SPD shoe.
Weighing in at a respectable 404 grams, it differs from the AM7 of previous years as it is now an SPD cleated shoe whereas the previous years’ model was flat pedal specific. The new AM9 downhill shoe also is an SPD shoe however this model differs as it does not have the lace shield, has different styling but retains the cleat positioning system, sole and armoured toe box, in addition the AM7 is slightly stiffer for more power transfer on longer rides.
Having owned a pair of AM9s for a couple of years before owning these, I found them familiar with the same sole, same grip and mostly the same feel, except it seems the toe box is a little narrower but not much. The sole is grippy enough over most surfaces, it can slip a little over wet rocks/moss but much better than XC style SPD shoes. The other flat pedal specific shoes in the range do have Michelin sticky rubber that would have more grip but the grip of the soles on these and the AM9s is enough for most purposes.
On the trails the increased stiffness of the sole was noticeable over the older AM9 but not enough to cause major dramas when trying to walk around. With the sole and midsole similar to the old AM9 which have served me well for two years, I expect these to last for a similarly long time.
Getting in and out of SPD pedals is striaghtforward, the “Pedal Channel” on the bottom of the shoe does help getting back into the clip after clipping out, e.g. for inside foot out turning or accidentally unclipping.
Styling looks good and understated. There is extra grey laces supplied with the shoes if you prefer that look over the stock blue laces. If an understated look isn’t your thing, they also come in a lime green colour option. The exterior of the upper did scuff a little bit with some black from my cranks but it came off easily with a damp cloth.
One of the other features of the shoe is the ankle gaiter, this is a piece around the opening of the shoe that wraps around your sock at the ankle and stops dirt, stones and other debris from getting inside the shoe and upsetting your ride. I didn’t find this made the shoe hot though, overall the shoe felt pretty comfortable temperature wise even on a a humid day.
Although marketed as a trail/enduro shoe I reckon these would suit downhill too.
Shimano also offer the AM9 above this, and a range of flat pedal shoes with similar styling in the GR900 and GR700.
Overall I think these are a good shoe that would be recommended if you’re on the lookout for a new pair.
RRP: $195, distributed in Australia by Shimano Australia.