There’s no getting away from the fact that the new AM9s have some, er… big shoes to fill, replacing the incredibly popular AM45s as Shimano’s top-tier downhill/trail riding offering.
Thankfully some of the AM45s’ key features have been carried over, including the massive lace flap, which does a great job keeping puddle splashes out. Shimano have added a Velcro strap, which helps you properly cinch things down to prevent any movement when you’re putting the power down. There’s also a raised, heavily padded inside ankle to prevent those eye-watering knocks when scrabbling to clip back in.
Underneath, there’s an extended cleat pocket dubbed the ‘Pedal Channel’, designed to guide you back into the pedal when unclipped, along with more aggressive tread sections on the toe and heel to deal with off-the-bike shenanigans.
In use, there’s no escaping just how comfortable the AM9s are. They also feel much lighter than the AM45s (our size 43s weighed 920g), especially after a proper soaking. The fit is secure, with little heel lift even when walking, and they’re roomy enough to remain comfy even after long hours on the bike.
When it comes to stiffness, there’s a small amount of flex in the sole. Although this is great in terms of pedal feedback for downhillers, we found it better to use the shoes with caged clipless pedals for trail and enduro riding, because of the extra support provided.