Shimano’s shoes have long been popular with mountain bikers and the budget-friendly AM5 looks set to continue that trend, with good reason.
There’s plenty of ventilation, a lace closure and some ankle protection thrown in for good measure.
Shimano AM5 specifications and details
The central section of the outsole features a shallow, closely packed tread that Shimano says is designed to provide a secure footing on a pedal if you’re not clipped in – for example, if you happen to miss the mechanism when trying to engage.
Clipping in should be fairly easy, with a ramped entry to the average-width cleat bed. The cleat channel is short at 27mm, although it’s located far back in the shoe – as such, a good cleat position is possible.
Toe and heel sections receive a slightly deeper cut tread to aid traction when pushing up or down muddy slopes.
The sole has a rating of 5 for stiffness on Shimano’s scale – this is flexible, more so than most trail shoes in my experience.
The upper is simple. Laces secure the shoe to the foot, with the top eyelet being reinforced. There’s no Velcro strap, nor cat’s tongue material in the heel, but the laces do finish fairly far up the foot, and there’s some shaping to the inside of the heel cup to boost foot security.
The front portion of the upper features ample ventilation holes, over the toes and on both sides of the shoe.
Toes are well protected, and there’s strengthening around the heel too. The side of the foot gets little in the way of protection, however the inner ankle is raised a touch, to protect you from scuffing on the cranks.
Shimano offers a wide range of sizes, and the weight is on par for a shoe of this type and cost.
Shimano AM5 performance
Though the upper’s material has good flexibility, I found the shoe to be supportive when the laces were properly tied and tensioned well along the length of the foot.
This meant I had additional control of, and feedback from, the bike when riding rough, technical trails.
The AM5 is also comfortable in the main. The toe box leaves room for movement side to side, and while not the deepest, I didn’t find my toes touching the top of the toe box in an annoying way.
The arch support is fair, as is heel hold, even though the padding around the ankle isn’t the most contoured.
This heel hold is partly thanks to the laces coming quite far up the foot. The tongue isn’t the thickest, so when I ran the laces tight I could feel them pressing on the top of my foot a bit.
It’s more of an annoyance, rather than uncomfortable, but it does mean I didn’t miss a Velcro strap, which would increase the shoes’ price.
The laces work fine on this shoe. The reinforced eyelet at the top is smooth-running, and the non-reinforced eyelets don’t seem to create too much friction.
This helps when fitting or removing the shoes – binding laces are frustrating. There is an elastic lace-keeper, but it’s often caught underneath one of the lace cross-overs.
It should be no surprise that the vast array of perforations make for a well-ventilated shoe, but also one where water quickly finds its way into the shoe. Fortunately, the synthetic upper with only moderate levels of padding dries fast.
While the flexible sole robs some pedalling efficiency, and feels better with platform pedals, I liked the way the shoes felt when pedalling.
They lock into pinned platforms well, with the sole combining with the upper to offer a good connection between foot and bike.
I also like how low-stack they are, and it feels as if your foot is virtually on the pedal.
There’s a touch too much flex to work well with a non-caged pedal, and a hint of a hotspot above the cleat on longer pedals.
While I could get my cleats far enough back for my preferences, I found that the inner edge of the toe can clash with cranks when using wide release-angle cleats.
As such, I had to locate the cleats as close to the inside edge as I could, compromising a little mud clearance for the cleat.
Off the bike, the flexible sole walks reasonably well, but the closely packed tread clogs quickly. Its rubber is soft enough to avoid feeling like you’re ice skating over rocks and roots, though.
Shimano AM5 bottom line
The AM5 is an impressive shoe for the money, with good comfort and a great shoe-to-pedal connection that helps you control your bike over rough terrain.
The flexy sole won’t suit everyone, though, and I’d rather the toe didn’t hit the cranks when unclipping.
How we tested:
Mountain bike shoes have a hard life. All your power is transferred through their soles, as well as an awful lot of bodily bike control.
At the same time, they’re stamped onto pedals (some of which have platform cages with sharp pins), are walked in on rough surfaces, have to sit in the firing line of mud and water, and shrug off impacts with trailside rocks, roots and vegetation.
As such, the best mountain bike shoes have to satisfy a wide range of requirements to reach the top of our table. In this group test, we pitted 12 pairs of clipless shoes from leading brands against each other during several months of sloppy winter testing.
We tested all these shoes with both Crankbrothers and Shimano SPD pedals to check that they’re compatible with the most common platforms. They were ridden with one foot in one brand of shoe and the other in a different type, to better grasp their differences.
Steep banks were scrambled up and down, while we carried our bikes on our shoulders to see how much our heels slipped in the heel box and our feet slipped in the mud. We even sprayed them with a hose to see how water-resistant they are, then timed how long they take to dry out.
Other shoes we tested:
- Bontrager Rally review
- Crankbrothers Mallet Speedplay
- Endura MT500 Burner Clipless review
- Five Ten Kestrel Lace review
- Fizik Gravita Versor Clip review
- Giro Berm Cover review
- Ion Rascal Select BOA review
- Leatt 6.0 Clip V22 review
- Mavic XA Elite II review
- Ride Concepts Transition review
- Scott Crus-R review
- Specialized 2FO Roost Clip review