I have been riding with a pair of Vans (skate shoes) and a pair of trainers for the past 3 years. My vans finally gave up on me. I decided to spend money on a pair of dedicated unicycling shoes. I started searching the five.ten models, as I wanted a shoe with the famous “sticky” sole. A good friend then told me about the Shimano AM40’s. These had similar design features to the 5.10 Karver, were cheaper, and had a very sticky sole (Vibram rubber rather then the stickier 5.10 stealth). There were plenty of reviews, but non from unicyclists. After much internal debate, I decided to go with shimano. I’m very glad I did.
Advertised features (from the Shimano website):
• Exclusive Shimano collaboration with Vibram®, long respected for quality and durability, to create an outsole with superior traction
• Armoured lace sield and side panels provide extra protection for more aggressive riding
• Mid-top ankle protection for more aggressive riding
• Modular midsole system allows for custom sole stiffness setting
These shoes are NOT as bulky as I expected. I have seen the Karvers in person, and the 5.10 are certainly bulkier. The colour is not as hideous as I imagined, but I guess that is down to taste. The shoes in general seem very well designed and solidly constructed. The “modular stiffness” insert does not really change the stiffness of the shoe noticeable. However, a bit of DIY with a stiffer piece of material will fix that. In spite of this, they are much stiffer than my previous vans, but still comfortable enough to walk around in as a leisure shoe. Now for the soles: The vibram soles have a great tread pattern, best seen in the photo rather than described. This tread looks very promising on pinned pedals.
Internet reviews said that the shimano’s were sized smaller than most other brands. My usual shoe size is a 42, so I got a 43 in the Shimanos, which is a perfect fit. The shoes laces up tighter than I’ll ever need, and seems to engulf my whole foot ie: very supportive. The inner ankle is a “mid top”, whilst the outer ankle is a “low top”, given nice protection from nubbed cranks. My first walk in the shoes was, however, bitterly disappointing. I was slipping all over my polished wooden floors. I was disappointed, as the reason for getting these shoes was for the “sticky” sole. Thankfully, my impression changed when I went for a ride.
Damn – these shoes stick! My first ride was on a 36er with Odyssey trail mix pedals. As with all the 5.10 reviews, it felt as if I was riding with clips. I had to lift my foot completely off the pedal to change position! Going up and down hills, my confidence was immediately boosted, my cadence was higher, and my foot was very nicely supported. The shoes are much stiffer than my vans, and are very very comfortable. The mid top ankles do not give enough support for a weak ankle, but provide mild support with only a slight decrease in flexibility.
My only gripe on this first ride, was that I felt a “hotspot” on the ball of my feet after an hour of riding. As these shoes have worn in, this hotspot has subsequently disappeared.
Opinion after 300km of 36er riding.
After 300km of riding, I can safely say that these shoes were a great investment. I have not had a single blister, which is remarkable for me. I have not owned a pair of 5.10’s, but the Shimanos meet all the specifications that I have read about in the 5.10 reviews. Reading comparative reviews, the 5.10s ARE slightly sticker on the pedals, and a bit bulkier. I can’t imagine a stickier shoe, but I’ll take their word for it!
It looks like this shoe is going to become the staple shoe for all those who can afford in in our local riding group. I highly recommend them.
Very sticky sole
Good inner-ankle protection (from cranks)
No blisters, ever!
Laces cover does it’s job well
Some teething problems while they wear in (this refers to the “hotspot”, which resolvede)
Slippery on wooden floors.
Modular sole does not make a functional difference with the given inserts, but has the potential to work if you are DIY inclined.
Sizing is deceptive – get 1 size LARGER than your usual.