New Flat & SPD Gravity Shoes From Shimano

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Shimano has been doing the pedal and shoe thing for a very long time now. As the only brand that makes both pedals and shoes for mountain biking, it’d be fair to say that the Japanese brand has been doing a pretty good job of it too. We’ve reviewed plenty of well-loved kicks from Shimano in the past, including the iconic AM41 moon boots, and more recently, the brilliant ME7 trail shoes.

About two years ago, Shimano updated its gravity footwear range, with new options including the AM9, AM7 and AM5 shoes. However, they’ve gone and shaken up the range again, with some new models that are broadened its flat shoe offerings, along with some name changes to make things a little easier to understand.

In short, there are two new flat-specific shoes called the GR9 and the GR7. Alongside those are two new SPD shoes called the AM9 and the AM7. Starting with the flat shoes, lets take a closer look at what’s what with the new Shimano footwear range.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
New 2018 flat pedal shoes sent from the future by Shimano.

Shimano GR9 Flat Pedal Shoe Features

  • Flat pedal shoes designed for downhill racing
  • Synthetic leather upper absorbs less moisture and dries quicker
  • Michelin rubber outsole
  • Wider profile sole for increased pedal contact
  • Speed laces
  • Velcro storm-flap
  • Raised padded ankle collar
  • Molded toe cap for protection
  • Sizes: EU 36-48
  • Claimed weight: 365g (size 42)
  • RRP: £119
shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The GR9 replaces the AM7, and it’s been updated with a new upper with a storm flap and speed laces.

The new Shimano GR9 shoe replaces the outgoing AM7 flat pedal shoe. There have been some significant updates, with Shimano taking on board feedback from both athletes and everyday riders to redesign the shoe from the ground-up. The result is a more streamlined shoe that absorbs less water, dries quicker, and offers more grip on the pedal.

The new upper retains the excellent Velcro storm flap to keep water and muck out, but underneath is a set of speed laces that makes adjustment quicker and easier than with regular laces. The system works well on the current ME7 shoes, so it’s a handy update for the GR9s.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Subtle toe box armouring.
shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Bit more ankle protection from the mid-top design.

On the inside of each shoe is a raised ankle collar designed to provide more protection for your ankle bones. It’s kind of a mid-top design with enough padding to ward off scrapes and bumps, but not so much to interfere with crank arms.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Much stickier sole courtesy of a special blend by Michelin.

The rubber outsole is where the new GR9 really changes. Moving away from the Vibram rubber sole used on the old AM7 shoes, the new GR9s get a custom rubber compound developed by Michelin, and it feels much more sticky to the touch. Clearly Shimano are going after Five Ten’s Stealth rubber with the new stickier outer sole, though we’ll be eager to try these out on the trail to see just how grippy it really is.

The centre of the rubber outsole is profiled to deliver lots of grip with pedal pins, while the toe and heel of the sole get a more open tread design for traction while hike-a-biking.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The sole is much wider through the arch of the foot too.

A more subtle change to the rubber outsole is the use of a much wider profile underneath the arch of the foot. The idea is to increase the shoe’s surface area for better contact between pedal and foot. In use, this should offer more stability when riding with your feet further over the pedal body, giving more grip and better control. In theory.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The GR7 is a less-raceish flat pedal shoe.

Shimano GR7 Flat Pedal Shoe Features

  • Flat pedal shoes designed for trail and enduro
  • Synthetic leather upper absorbs less moisture and dries quicker
  • Breathable mesh padding
  • Michelin rubber outsole
  • Wider profile sole for increased pedal contact
  • Lace-up design
  • Stretch neoprene scree guard around ankle
  • Molded toe cap for protection
  • Sizes: EU 36-48
  • Claimed weight: 366g (size 42)
  • RRP: £99
shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Regular ol’ laces for this blue number.

The GR7 is one step down from the GR9, but is still a full-featured shoe built specifically for use with flat pedals. However, some subtle changes to the shoe design make the GR7 a slightly better option for regular trail and XC riders. Overall the shape and LAST is the same as the GR9, but the GR7 exchanges the storm flap for an open lace-up design that is a little less futuristic in appearance while offering better breathability too for those lucky enough to ride in conditions that require such things.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Subtle neoprene scree guard around the top of the ankle.

The GR7 also features a lower cut upper around the ankle bones, which should offer a slightly freer pedal-friendly design. Instead of the high-cut padding that the GR9 uses, the GR7 swaps in a flexible neoprene scree guard, much like the one that’s used on the ME7 shoes. The stretchy neoprene ‘skirt’ is great for keeping little stones and seeds from getting inside the shoe and rubbing your skin into oblivion, so it’s a nice addition for the GR7 shoes.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The new GR7 and GR9 shoes are claimed to be much quicker to dry once they get saturated.
shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The GR7 also comes in this rather fetching titanium/green colour.

The GR7 also comes in a grey/green colourway, as well as the loud ‘how-many-Smurfs-did-you-kill-blue’. It’s also available in a women’s specific version that uses a lower volume LAST that better suits both narrower and slimmer feet. The GR7W will be available in sizes from 36-42.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
For narrower lady feet, there’s a GR7W too.
shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Sticky sole for getting all intimate with the pins on your flat pedals.
shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Rockin’ clip pedals? Then the AM9 will be more up your alley.

Shimano AM9 SPD Shoe Features

  • SPD compatible shoes designed for downhill racing
  • Reinforced nylon shank
  • Pedal channel for smoother pedal entry and exit
  • Synthetic leather upper absorbs less moisture and dries quicker
  • High-traction rubber outsole increases grip while walking
  • Wider profile sole for increased pedal contact
  • Velcro storm flap
  • Speed laces
  • Stretch neoprene scree guard around ankle
  • Molded toe cap for protection
  • Sizes: EU 36-48
  • Claimed weight: 400g (size 42)
  • RRP: £119
shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The AM9 updates to a slimmer upper with speed laces and a Velcro storm flap.

Also new from Shimano is this revision of the AM9 shoe. The AM9 remains as Shimano’s premium gravity SPD shoe, with more padding and a grippier rubber sole compared to its lighter weight XC shoe range. The big change with the AM9 is in the upper of the shoe, which is very similar to the GR9 flat-pedal shoe.

As such, the new AM9 also features lighter foam padding that doesn’t soak up water, and Shimano claims the AM9 will dry faster too. It also moves to the speed lace design, with a single bungy cord being all you need to snug up the laces over the top of the shoe.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Not quite the moon-boots of old, but still has a Battlestar Galactica look huh?

In addition to the speed laces, there’s a large Velcro storm flap that offers increased weather protection and more shielding of the laces underneath. An additional single Velcro strap towards the top of the foot allows you to snug the shoe down further, which is particularly important for an SPD shoe.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The AM9 is an SPD shoe designed for downhill racing and rough ‘n’ tumble trail riding.
shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The outer sole remains, with a large pedal channel for engaging into the pedal.

The outer sole remains unchanged from the old AM9 shoe, with a textured rubber surface used for providing extra grip with larger platform pedal bodies. More open tread at the front and back of the shoe allow for extra grip while walking, and the cleat area uses a longer channel that’s designed to make pedal entry and release smoother and quicker. Shimano also claims that the longer pedal channel also offers the ability to put one’s foot on top of a pedal without being clipped in, with the pedal mechanism being able to sit into the channel underneath the arch of the foot.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The AM9 is a good match for the new Saint M820 SPD pedal.

Shimano’s whole thing with the new Saint pedals and gravity shoes is ‘Power to the pedal’, which basically means the two are designed to work together as a whole unit. While the new AM9 shoes will work with any clipless pedals out there, they’ve been built to work optimally with the new Saint M820 SPD pedal. So there’s none of that awkward pedal interference between the shoe’s tread and the pedal body that causes annoying clip-in or clip-out issues.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The AM7 is new for 2018, and draws heavily from the AM9.

Shimano AM7 SPD Shoe Features

  • SPD compatible shoes designed for trail and enduro
  • Reinforced nylon shank
  • Pedal channel for smoother pedal entry and exit
  • Synthetic leather upper absorbs less moisture and dries quicker
  • High-traction rubber outsole increases grip while walking
  • Wider profile sole for increased pedal contact
  • Lace-up design with Velcro strap
  • Raised and padded ankle collar
  • Molded toe cap for protection
  • Sizes: EU 36-48
  • Claimed weight: 408g (size 42)
  • RRP: £99
shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
No storm flap here, and regular laces keep it real.

Stepping down from the AM9 shoe is the new AM7. A brand new option from Shimano, the AM7 is also a gravity-inspired SPD trail shoe, but it offers up a slightly more casual-looking lace-up design that ditches the big storm-flap of the AM9.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Anti-annoying-little-rocks-stuck-inside-my-shoe neoprene scree guard.

Much like the GR7 flat-pedal shoe, the AM7 features a lower cut upper around the ankle bone, with the goal of providing more freedom for riders who spend more time pedalling uphill than hitching a ride up on a gondola or shuttle uplift. It gets the stretchy neoprene scree guard, and to keep the foot steady and secure inside the shoe when hammering on the pedals, an extra Velcro strap is used for additional retention over the top of the foot.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Grippy rubber tread for off-the-bike traction.

The sole on the AM7 is the same as the AM9, with a grippy rubber outsole that draws inspiration from Shimano’s flat-specific shoes. There’s the extra long pedal channel, and the cleat area features a broader range of adjustment that allows you to slam the cleats right back underneath the arch of the foot for more better stability on top of the pedal when riding technical trails.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
The adjustment range on the cleat mounting is huge, and it allows you to slam the cleats right back underneath the arch of your foot for the nu-skool setup.
shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
Don’t like green? Then titanium/blue is your other AM7 colour option.

In addition to the toxic green colour, Shimano will also offer the AM7 shoe with a titanium-grey and blue finish. Overall the styling is pretty subtle, with few logos or model names plastered all over it. The armoured toe and heel cups have been designed to offer decent crash protection, without covering the shoe in heavy rubber armouring.

shimano spd shoes flat am9 gr9 am7 gr7 lace michelin rubber
All of the shoes.

The fit of the new Shimano gravity shoes is quoted as being ‘middle of the range’, so those with uber-wide feet may struggle. However, they are wider than the ME7 shoes, which are known as being a little on the narrow side. Availability for the 2018 gravity shoe range is still yet to be confirmed, but expect them to start showing up in the 3rd of 4th quarter of 2017.

Comments (6)

    interesting. Looking forward to a review of the GR9. although they couldn’t really make the sole less grippy.

    Please, please, please let the GR9 soles be grippy

    Can’t look at those GR9 without the Robocop theme tune going through my head.
    I know it’s shallow and they’ll probably perform well but the whole range looks awful.

    No, the GR9s probably won’t perform well judging by my last generation AM7s but aesthetics aside they could be so good if the sole is half decent. Five ten win on rubber but in my opinion just don’t bother making a practical shoe for the UK

    At £120 they’re more exoensive than Five Tens – so they need to be very good indeed.
    I’ll not be shelling out that much without a LOT of psitive feedback about the soles and the weatherproofing.

    no thank you. I don’t want to look like Ronald McDonald whilst riding my bike.

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