Good water resistance and easily shrugs off minor rock strikes
This brand new Shimano AM5 is Shimano’s best value trail and enduro SPD shoe and shares some neat technology and features with pricier models.
It’s more casually styled and packs a lot mesh fabric in the upper, which is reflected in the competitively low weight, and also the way the AM5 feels very unobtrusive and easy to turn over pedalling.
The sole uses Shimano’s ‘pedal channel’ feature, which is a long central trough that really aids clipping in or out in all weathers. Basically, with more space lengthways and ramped edges on the large cleat box, the cleats direct to the pedal fast and snap into ratchets more easily.
The sole isn’t the stiffest, but there’s very good pedal feel, in part due to the rigidity levels, and also in how the shoe feels really close to pedals so you’re not perched on the bike. The bottom not being rock hard means it’s easy to walk in, and the deep heel and toe treads really grip on soft ground too.
The AM5 lace system is basic, but it holds the foot securely with no pressure points, although under tension the mesh fabric clumps up in the toe box, which looks unsightly. This mesh weave is also the least protective on test against mud and water, so regularly ride in the rain or on saturated trails and your feet will get wet and cold faster.
Another thing we noticed is the protective sole bumper protrudes slightly wider than the toe box, so clipping in (especially in muddy conditions) the sole can get in the way of engagement by momentarily bumping into the crank arm.
These small niggles aren’t deal breakers, and Shimano’s budget shoe allows great bike feedback in superb comfort (if you don’t need ultimate stiffness and protection) for a great price.