Shimano AM7 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The AM7 was made with gravity-oriented and trail riding in mind. This is plain to see in the casual styling of the shoe and it's lower power transfer scores. It's not a stiff as most of the competition, but we feel it is a good option for less competitive riders who value comfort and off-the-bike versatility. It's also reasonably priced, making it a great option for the rider on a budget. This shoe pairs the best with large platform clipless pedals but also works relatively well with small platform pedals.
Shimano rates the stiffness of their mountain bike shoes on a scale of 1-11. On this scale, the AM7 are rated at a middle of the road 6. This is in contrast to the XC-focused S-Phyre XC9 with a sole stiffness of 11. The difference in power transfer between these two shoe models is very noticeable. That said, everyday trail riders or casual gravity riders who are more focused on comfort and fun will likely find the power transfer of the AM7 to be adequate for their needs. It has good lateral stability and a solid connection with mid-large platform clipless pedals.
The AM7 received one of the lowest scores for power transfer on our test, though this isn't a race shoe, nor is it intended to be. Anyone looking to mix it up inside the tape on the downhill or enduro track will be happier with stiffer soled models like the Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa or the Giro Chamber II.
The AM7 has a decidedly casual skate-shoe inspired looks and the comfort to match. The shoe is laced up like any regular skate shoe with shoelaces would be, while a velcro strap across the upper foot is employed to keep laces from loosening or ending up in your drivetrain. The strap across the top of the foot also plays the important role of locking the foot down against the sole of the shoe and aids in power transfer. Overall, the fit is snug, though far from the super-tight race performance fit of an XC style shoe.
The AM7 employs Shimano's synthetic leather for its uppers which is supple and conforms nicely to the feet after only a few rides. The synthetic material is generally pretty water-resistant and shrugs off splashes of mud and creek crossings. Should they get completely soaked we found them to dry relatively quickly. At the top of the ankle cuff is a short neoprene cuff that extends slightly above the top of the shoe. This cuff is intended to keep rocks and debris from entering the shoe from the top. While this cuff does make contact with the ankle area, testers never found it to chafe them or cause any other discomfort, plus it works as intended.
The AM7 shoes are also relatively well ventilated for a shoe of this style. Mesh ventilation panels on both sides of the foot as well as small perforations on top of the toes help keep your feet cooler than when wearing similar shoes like the Five Ten Hellcat Pro or the Giro Chamber II. Testers also found the included footbed to provide ample support and comfortable cradle for the arch and heel.
The AM7's full coverage Ultra-grip rubber sole provides excellent grip and traction. The rubber soles have wall to wall coverage with the exception fo the recessed cleat mount area. They basically look like the sole of a typical flat pedal shoe. We found this rubber to provide excellent traction on nearly all surfaces and we felt confident in our footing during short rocky hike a bikes and the like. In wet or muddy conditions we found the flatter sole design to provide somewhat less traction than soles that have larger lugs that dig into and bite in soft wet mud.
Off the bike walkability was some of the best in the test. This is thanks to the more flexible sole that feels a bit less plank-y than some of the stiffer competitors. There's also plenty of flex through the toe that allows for a relatively normal gait. These are definitely some of the most comfortable shoes for extended periods of walking.
The AM7 is not a lightweight shoe. In fact, at 445g, it is one of the heaviest shoes in our test selection behind other gravity-focused models like the Five Ten Kestral Pro Boa and Giro Chamber II. With an intention of creating a simple shoe that would stay comfortable all day while handing general trail duties, Shimano created a shoe right in the middle of the use spectrum and that is reflected in their heavier weight that most people interested in XC racing will scoff at.
As with most things Shimano makes, the AM7 simply works and does so with little complaint. The uppers are still in pretty good shape, although a tad scuffed up after a month of riding in them, while the soles still look to have plenty of life left in them. Our biggest gripe is the laces used by Shimano, which don't appear to last as long as the tighter weave laces provided by Giro on the Empire VR90 nor the Boa laces on many other shoes we tested. We've also seen reports of minor sole delamination issues in online reviews, although we never experienced this with our test pair.
At retail, the AM7 falls on the low end of the price spectrum for the shoes in our test selection. Avoiding the trend of newer technologies like BOA dials or carbon fiber, Shimano has created a comfortable workhorse of a shoe that would be a great value for most trail riders, especially those that lean towards the gravity side of things.
The AM7 is a simple and well-designed mountain bike shoe with casual skate shoe inspired styling. The Ultra-grip sole provides excellent traction, and a casual appearance makes it acceptable for apres beers. It doesn't pack quite the performance as our top-rated gravity and enduro models, but it is a solid value that gets the job done for non-competitive riders. We feel comfortable in saying it is a great mountain bike shoe that will appeal to the vast majority of recreational trail riders, especially those with a preference for the descents.