Shimano have a long involvement with mountain biking footwear. Their first mountain bike designed footwear, which hit the shelves in 1990 didn’t look too dissimilar to the AM7s we received on test. Sleek grey and almost sneaker like, appearances aside a lot more work has gotten into this premier gravity range shoe since.

The AM7s are part of a family of gravity enduro offerings from Shimano. Elsewhere in the range are flat shoes the GM7 and GM9 and in the clip-in pairings follows the AM9 and AM7. The difference between the two is the AM9 features a lace cover whereas the AM7 is pure old-school laces.

Apart from the most apparent features, it has a molded toe cap for extra protection, an ultra grip rubber sole for added traction both on and off the bike and a single strap to hold your laces in place. A stretch nylon ankle collar takes it’s origins from the ME7 and here offers a snug fit and a touch of wet weather sealing.

The synthetic upper provides plenty of ventilation with vents in the toe, side and a long patch along the tongue. Laces come in two colours, grey and a Shimano blue. Colour options are a grey and blue (pictured) and a lime green. Curiously there is no basic black option.

On the trail

The Shimano AM7s were an easy fit, I have wide feet and while there is no option for half sizes, going up a size has delivered zero issues. Even after several rides.

Clipping in was slightly problematic over the first couple of rides with my cross brand pairing of Crankbrothers pedals. A knife and a widening of the pedal channel delivered a more consistent clip-in entry. Before I did so however, I re installed a set of Shimano SPD’s and as expected it was a much smoother experience. The raised platform of the XT trail pedals evenly matching the ‘Pedal Channel’ groove.

Once established however, the pedal to shoe feel is exemplary, where the pairing trio of foot to boot to pedal feels as one. This feels in partnership with the extra stiff sole, compared to its predecessors its performance is excellent. This is a marriage that gives you great confidence in laying down the power.

You may wonder why I opted for the lace up over the binder option? In part it is to do with eventual replacement parts but just as much, it’s to do with the feel of the binding. It’s simply too hard to go past the locked rigidity of a well fastened lace. The AM7’s stock laces performed admirably in this respect, the cross shoe band helping to stop any half attempt lacings from coming undone. They didn’t come loose once. Although I will still be seeking to replace them as the laces provided are just too long, unless you’re triple knotting, there is too much excess.

The copious amount of ventilation makes this a shoe you can comfortably ride and stand around all day in. The addition of the neoprene collar doesn’t leave you with a sweaty foot after all!The stiffness is notable when walking around but even with many days in the field photographing there is barely a scratch in the sole.

Thes AM7s are a good blend of race and ride shoe. You may experience some issues with cross brand pedals and the odd flying shoelace but after set up there is little else to complain about here. Shimano offer a smart, stiff and reliable shoe in the AM7 and after running their XC-focused XC70s into the ground over the last five years, I expect these to last perform equally as long.

- Comfortable - the colours are limited
- confindence inspiring engagement between pedal and shoe  
- sneaker aesthetic  

Words and photos: Robert Conroy