Shimano have really stepped it up in terms of outright grip over previous models
Supple Shimano GR9 feels pretty invisible on your foot, with a planted sole that gives good pedal feedback, but it’s not that supportive or locked in place.
The GR9 is the latest top-tier Shimano flat pedal shoe using a specially designed Michelin rubber sole that’s softer and stickier than the previous equivalent. The new shoe is also wider underneath, with a tread pattern optimised for grip both in the pedal zone and toe and heel edges to assist with hike-a-biking.
Buying the pricier of Shimano’s two models gets you the signature futuristic look with splash-resistant flap wrapping the top and a boa-style tensioner loop, rather than traditional laces. For extra protection, there’s ankle padding on the crank side, plus a moulded, reinforced toecap. The relatively thin synthetic exterior is well ventilated and designed to absorb less water and dry quickly.
On the bike, there’s decent pedal feel and the sole’s flexible enough to bend slightly around and into the platform and feedback what’s happening under tyres, but less shock absorption through the midsole than some shoes here. The soft interior and flimsy removable insole doesn’t fully lock your foot in place like stiffer footwear, and over time the BOA tensioner stripped out its black wrapping and lost elasticity, which made it even harder to achieve enough stability.
Michelin’s new outer sole has decent grip in all weather and is a big improvement over the older Vibram compound that was hard and pingy, but it’s still not as locked on, planted or damped as the stickiest shoes here.
The perforated GR9 is as comfy as your favourite slippers, but runs a bit cold and feet can get wet and chilly in the UK winter. If you prefer a slightly more sturdy shoe, adding a stiffer aftermarket foot bed adds support, but the GR9 still isn’t as good as the best on the market.