The Perfect Shoe: Shimano AM 41

Riding muni is hard on your feet, hours spent pushing and pushing, shoes that are designed for DH work okay, but tend to be a little soft, bulky, and heavy.

I like shoes that are supportive, granted a stiff shoe can be good or it can be bad, sorta depends on the use and user. I tend to ride with my foot halfway between the ball and arch centered on the pedal spindle. As I get tired I move my foot back so the arch is over the spindle. What I noticed when wearing the Freerides is my feet “felt” the pedal and over time my feet got tired, likely due to lack of support.

I tried stiff insoles, added homemade plastic inserts, got wider pedals, all to little or no benefit. Enter the AM 41:

Bike Radar Review:

The Shimano AM (all mountain) 41 is a bike specific shoe designed to provide clipless stability for platform pedals. The sister shoe to the AM 41 is called the AM 45, an SPD compatible shoe, so though they look alike they are very different.

I splurged for a pair of these shoes last month, ended up ordering too small, then finally got the right size last week. These shoe replaced Five Ten Baron Freerides, which had replaced some Five Ten “grey” Freerides, which had replaced some Five Ten Sam Hill Impacts. I’d say that you should size up, so I wear a 47 in a Five Ten, in the AM 41 I fit best in a 48 (largest size available)

The first thing I noticed about these shoes is they are lighter and narrower than the typical “skate” shoe (Freeride). Second, they are stiff, not as stiff as an SPD shoe, but far stiffer than an Impact. The sole is flat, no recess under the arch, so they provide consistent pedal contact no matter where you place your feet.

In riding the AM 41 I found that my feet remained supported for the entire ride, no more side to side slop, no more folding the sole over the pedal. What this meant was that my foot fatigued far less, which means I could ride on the forward part of my foot longer, and with more power/leverage and more leg travel.

The shoe has some great features such as a velcro lace cover, which is nice to keep the laces stashed, but also keeps the rain and mud our of your shoes. Also, the shoe is light, not sure on total weight but it’s obviously lighter than the Impact.

This shoe was made last year and came with changeable sole stiffeners, but the new model has a single stiffness, a permanent insole made of a rubber like material, and a different color scheme.

Ah… the look, this is the one area I think the shoe falls down, cuz face it, it looks like a basketball boot. The white stripes don’t help, so I used a magic marker and colored my stripes silver and purple (pics to come).

All in all, I can’t find a single performance related fault for these shoes. The sole is a durable Vibram rubber, not quite as sticky as Five Ten, but plenty friction freindly on pinned pedals, mud, and wet roots/rocks. After 7+ hours of single track they still look new, just a couple nicks out of the rubber sole from pin wear.

Two Thumbs UP!

Interesting. Nice to have some new options. I think I tried a similar shoe a couple years ago, but couldn’t find one that fit correctly so had to abort.


I know it’s December now… but how do they breathe? They look hot.

Scott, so far they are not hot, but the warmest temp I have ridden was 60 F. Considering how much I sweat (a whole lot) they have not been sweaty at the end of a ride, whereas my Five Tens are always sweaty. They don’t have as much material thickness as the Five Tens, but they do have a tongue cover.

Oh, and I have decided to revise my opinion of the shoes:

They are the best shoe I have even ridden and I can’t think of a single thing I’d change :slight_smile:

$125 USD and worth twice that!

And you can get SPD cranks for a more exciting ride! Let us know if you decide to go clipless.


Been there, done that, might be fun for road, but not for muni.

Honestly, my feet stay on the pedals very well with these shoes and some pinned pedals, though I can see the advantage of being able to “pull up”, the lack of friction and being attached to the pedals is a definitely disadvantage.

I have considered trying toe straps…

Those look awesome! How do you think they would be for hard core trials?

Hard core trials?

I guess it depends on what you use now and how they “fail” to perform.

If you need a sticky sole that grips concrete, asphalt, and is stable for “foot on frame tricks”, then I’d say you should stick with Five Ten Freerides.

If you like the Five Ten Impact, but find them clunky and heavy, then the AM 41 is a good choice.

If you like the Five Ten Freeride, but find the uppers loose (foot moves side to side) and the sole soft (rubber folds over the pedal), then the AM 41 is a good choice.

The AM 41 is a firm sole, narrower than a Freeride, sole is not qute as sticky, a very nice tread for road or muni, about the best non-clipless; but comparable to the clipless in fit and function, shoe I have ridden.

Rode last night in wet clay and leaves, did fine, laces covers kepy my feet dry :slight_smile:


Thanks for this review - though I found it a bit late after I’d already bought my AM41s (and used them to ride the uni, so can’t send them back). It does at least reassure me that I haven’t made a big mistake, as I was feeling a bit uncomfortable riding with them. I guess they just feel very different to the flexy skate shoes I’ve previously worn. Plenty of grip, it’s just the stiffness is a bit disconcerting.

@ Aracer:

Try taking them in your hands and flexing the sh^* out of them, twisting and bending them hard, this will soften them up. Also put them on and squat so that the toe is bent up.

What pedals are you using?

What kind of riding do you do?

Twisted PCs - don’t have a problem with the grip, just that they feel different to the soft skate shoes I’ve been using. I’m a newbie, so a bit of everything, including some muni (which is what I bought the shoes for - my skate shoes quickly got wet and grotty with local conditions - will keep wearing the skate shoes for other stuff).

They do soften with use, and you could get them to feel softer by flexing them a bunch with your hands; don’t be shy, they’re tough!

Yeah, compared to skate shoes they are way stiff, but they also transmit power better and are more stable for cranking hills and landing drops.

See if you can get used to them, they will improve your riding if you can get used to the support.

Reposted from another thread:

how are they holding up comparably to other shoes?

Better than Five Ten Freerides, that’s for sure, but overall they are on par with most quality riding shoes, though I’d expect Shimano to do a good job on cosntruction since they’ve been making bike shoes for a while.

The only wear has been some pin abrasion to the soles, nothing out of the norm, overall they are a great shoe.

Though it has not been hot out here, I still sweat a lot and the AM 41 does not seem to be any warmer than the Barons, and if memory serves me well, they are not as hot as the Sam Hill (Impact II) which tended to smother my feet to the point that I melted a bunch of holes in the side so they’d breathe :smiley:

Well I’ve ridden them a bit more now, and definitely warming to them for muni riding. I suppose the best compliment I can make about them on my ride yesterday is that I just didn’t notice them. It was also muddy enough that I think a skate style shoe would have got wet and horrible, but whilst these don’t appear to be properly waterproof, they do shrug off the worst of it in a way even my race MTB shoes don’t.

Still going to wear my cheapy skate shoes for learning stuff and general playing around (though thinking about getting some mid height ones, as I really appreciate the ankle bashing protection of the AM41s), but the AM41s will be my choice for actually riding I think.

any pictures of what they look like after you made the white go away?

I Used a silver magic marker, looks better, but still a racey looking shoe. Honestly, the only time I look at my feet are when pit the shoes on before a ride and when taking them off at the end of a ride.

They clean up very nice, don’t seem to get as sweaty as the Five Tens, grip is good with pinned pedals, can get stuck at times, but not any more than another shoe.

I have quite a few rides in mine now, no interest in giving them up, my feet feel great, no more arch fatigue or sore feet, lots of power, fit is great, laces cover keeps the wet out.

If Wes ever meets me to ride :roll_eyes: , then I’ll do a comparison with his Teva Links.

I couldn’t care less about the white stripes - but then they’re not gopping, and I’m not an aesthete (and like Ben says, it’s not like I have to look at my feet - generally when you’re riding a uni it’s not where other people are looking either). Have now got used to them, and learned to like them such that I tend to grab them for any riding - have put them on for general messing about, as the ankle protection is so handy. Far better than skate shoes for the sort of muddy conditions we have around here - not only do the uppers shrug it off leaving me with warm, dry feet, the grip on the sole is also passable for walking up stuff.