Shimano AM5 SPD shoes - amazing value and super comfy these are such a hidden gem for urban riding
Ostensibly a mountain bike shoe, the Shimano AM5 is an utterly excellent hidden gem for urban and casual gravel riding
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Durable and more breathable than many dedicated urban shoes, these blend in fairly well in the city and are a pleasure to wear both on and off the bike. The look is more of a ‘skate shoe’ than sneaker – if that’s your style then you’ve hit something of a jackpot. The AM5 is robust, comfy, easy to walk in and excellent for urban riding and casual trail use. These come highly recommended.
Highly walkable for an SPD shoe
More breathable than rivals
Versatile - can be used for gravel riding too
Skate shoe styling won’t work for some people
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Shimano’s AM5 SPD-compatible cycling shoes are built for the trails but double up very nicely for commuter use thanks to the highly ‘walkable’ soles. These have enough stiffness to keep you riding efficiently – on everything from sprint starts at the traffic lights to medium paced gravel blasts – but are still also flexible enough for walking around town without any undue hindrance.
The ‘skate shoe’ styling makes these rather chunkier than some other more sneaker-inspired urban-specific rivals. But it certainly breathes a lot better, is low maintenance (as it’s easy to wipe clean), and is robust thanks to the toe guard and good quality materials. Highly recommended, these easily earn a spot as one of the best commuter cycling shoes.
Shimano AM5 (AM503) SPD MTB shoes: construction
Shimano’s AM5s are made with a rubber outsole, whilst the midsole is a combination of reinforced nylon and glass fibre. On Shimano’s stiffness index, these score a five out of 12 – so no claim to ultimate power transfer, but with this, there’s the flexibility which is designed to allow for easy mobility when walking.
Perforations have been included across the sides and on top of the toe box for ventilation when riding, while an elastic retention strap keeps the laces locked down and away from the chain and cranks.
Designed as a MTB shoe, you’ll find reinforced toe and heel protection at the front and rear of the shoes to hold off the knocks of off-road riding. Even if you don’t plan on flying down trails, this certainly makes the shoes feel a little more robust - and so far they’ve shown very little sign of wear.
Shimano AM5 (AM503) SPD MTB shoes: the ride (and walk)
The breathability of these shoes pleasantly surprised me. We’re not talking as much as the best performance road cycling shoes, but even so, it was nice arriving feeling fresh. Sometimes you’re going to have to dig a little deeper on your commute, and so this ventilation helped keep things a little fresher on those occasions I pushed harder.
After 20kms of riding, it was time to hop off the bike and test how these fared with walking about town. With no heel slippage at all and a little bit of flex near the forefoot, these have been the easiest SPD shoes I’ve ever walked in so far. This is down to a combination of the glass fibre used in the midsole and the shaping of the heel, which cups nicely and stays in place.
Taking them off-road onto my local gravel trails, although the AM5s are rather more bulky than your typical gravel shoe, I barely noticed their size when riding. Pushing harder on the long and sustained climbs, there was some noticeable flex – which would frustrate me if chasing a QOM, but when just out on casual rides, it really just adds to the comfort.
Comfy on and off the bike, in the city and on the trails, I’m happy wearing these shoes all day pretty much anywhere. And considering their MSRP, it seems that the AM5s are really something of an undiscovered gem.
Shimano AM5 (AM503) SPD MTB shoes: value and conclusion
Don’t get me wrong, I can understand that the slightly chunkier skater style look of these shoes may not be your taste. The slimmer and sleeker designs of Chrome’s Southside 3.0 Low Pro and Adidas’s Velosambas do appeal to me more too.
But in terms of SPD shoes that deliver both on and off the bike, these strike an excellent balance that’ll keep you happy all day long in the city no matter if you’re riding or walking . And with a price tag of £79.99 / $115.00, they’re such good value too. Chrome’s offering costs £126.00 / $135.00 and the Velosambas are slightly cheaper at £100.00 / $120.00.
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I’ve been hooked on bikes ever since the age of 12 and my first lap of the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit in the bright yellow kit of the Hillingdon Slipstreamers. For a time, my cycling life centred around racing road and track.
But that’s since broadened to include multiday two-wheeled, one-sleeping-bag adventures over whatever terrain I happen to meet - with a two-week bikepacking trip from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia being just the latest.
I still enjoy lining up on a start line, though, racing the British Gravel Championships and finding myself on the podium at the enduro-style gravel event, Gritfest in 2022.
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