Shimano AM901 Review | The Best Gravity MTB Shoe

Flying over the treacherous rock gardens on Thredbo’s insane Cannonball run or slicing through Blue Derby’s world famous rock chute, one cannot avoid a dreaded foot slip.

God forbid a nasty shin strike!

Maybe it’s time to upgrade. Maybe it’s time to move to the dark side. Maybe it’s time to start running clipless!

For those that are already with me, it’s time to step up your gravity game immensely!

And the Shimano AM901 SPD shoe, may just be exactly what you need…

Mountain Biking on sunset at Dungog MTB Park in my Shimano Am901 SPD mtb Shoes

Update** The Shimano AM901’s have been replaced by the newer AM902 model. And I’m sure all of the beautiful attributes I have found on the AM901’s will transfer across to the AM902 SPD shoe.

My Take On The Shimano AM901

Now, if you’re as confused as I was when beginning the transition to clips, let me shine some light. The shoes you need are called clipless… WTF!? What bright spark decided it was a good idea to name shoes that clip into a pedal ‘clipless’?? Surely someone out there is getting a real kick out of our confusion.

Anyway, let’s get into it.

Shimano’s AM901 SPD Downhill Shoe is without a doubt one of the best mountain biking shoes out there. As well as being extremely comfortable, the AM901’s provide superior protection and weigh in reasonably light when compared with other high-end gravity SPD shoes.

Making the AM901’s the perfect shoe for downhill and enduro mountain bikers!

Though these shoes are highly focused on gravity riding, the sole supports just the right level of stiffness, making these bad boy’s a powerhouse when working hard on the ups.

If you’re after a top-notch, clipless gravity mountain biking shoe that is a solid performer all-round, look no further.

The king of Shimano’s downhill footwear will tick all of your boxes!

Smashing a berm in my Am901 SPD Shoes riding around a berm in Glenrock Mountain Bike Trails

So if you’re ready to take the leap to clips – read on for my unbiased review.

It can’t all be bells and whistles… Can it?

Shimano AM901 Comfort

Shimano has nailed it when it comes to comfort. The widely known gravity shoe supplies the perfect balance of stiffness and flex, creating a comfortable shoe both on and off the trail. Though somehow, I don’t think you will be wearing these out clubbing…

And a word of advice, walk on your heels if you need to get down a sketchy section if you don’t want to end up on your arse.

Coming in at roughly 400 g per shoe, the Shimano AM901’s are relatively lightweight when compared with other gravity focused mountain biking shoes. The padded inner provides just the right level of cushioning, enough to make these shoes comfortable to ride in for hours.

The Sole is made from a soft rubber compound and is loosely based around the flat design of a skate shoe. Higher levels of flexibility toward the rear of the shoe allows free movement for those jarring descents. Though an obvious increase in stiffness is found towards the front of the shoe, around the cleat channel, improving the contact point and increasing pedalling efficiency.

The upper of the shoe is made from synthetic leather and is undercut below the ankle. The flexible material and ergonomic design fit beautifully and easily moulds to the correct shape of your foot.

Due to the flexible leather, obtaining a snug fit is quickly accomplished from tightening the quick lace system. Resulting in no heel lift while either riding or walking.

Shimano’s AM901 ticks all the boxes when it comes to providing a comfortable shoe that performs!

Walking through long grass at Dungog MTB Park in my Shimano Am901 SPD mtb Shoes


As with all types of bloody shoes, manufacturers seem to create their own industry standard. And as a result, finding the correct size can be a pain in the butt.

Shimano uses European sizing which makes a whole lot of sense, but be careful which chart you go by… I have found many and none of which provide the same measurements.

Using the chart below – and after purchasing the wrong size on my first attempt – I nailed it the second time around.

I am generally a US 8.5 and EUR 41-42 but the best fit for me was EUR 43. And I don’t want any wise cracks about my little feet… it’s a sore spot OK!

While finding the correct size can be a tad painful, nothing can be taken away from the cosy fit. My feet are quite wide for their length and I found the AM901 fit perfectly from day dot, requiring little to no wearing in.

Shimano AM901 Performance

As you can imagine, the Shimano AM901 shoes are top performers for gravity mountain bikers alike. Good enough for professional downhill and Enduro racers anyway…

On the trails, the AM901’s superior comfort translates into improved rider performance. The flexibility of the shoe really allows you to throw your body weight around without compromising the responsiveness when pushing through the pedals.

Whipping over a hip jump in Glenrock MTB Park in my Shimano Am901 SPD Shoes

These shoes support a wide cleat channel, allowing mid-foot to toe attachment points and an increased width adjustment. And while the channel is deep enough to provide clearance, maximum grip can be maintained in the sudden event of un-clipping thanks to the super-tacky rubber sole.

To really put the AM901’s to the test, I decided to attempt a 10 km loop at our local trails – Glenrock MTB Park – on my partner’s bike.

And yes, she rides flats.

To my surprise, my feet comfortably gripped the pedals throughout the entirety of the ride. I only suffered one or two slips and they were minor at best. But that was probably due to the fact I rely too much on cleats nowadays.

The downside to cleats – they make you lazy!

As well as a superb cleat channel design and tacky sole, the snug fit and flexible upper hugely improve rider experience.

It does for me anyway.

I love running a loose set-up. It allows me to maintain maximum movement while remaining firmly attached to the platform. And the Shimano AM901 shoes complement this style beautifully.

Whether treacherous rock gardens or loose berms stand in your way, the pinpoint grip and flexible nature inspires limitless confidence. Something that is highly desired in downhill mountain biking.

Railing a berm at Dungog Common MTB Park in my Shimano Am901 SPD mtb Shoes

Shimano AM901 Protection

Let’s start with a major improvement that has been introduced into Shimano AM901 gravity shoe… the toe plate. A super stiff moulded toe plate provides the first line of defence against any nasty rock strike and has proven its worth on many occasions.

The strength continues from the toe line all the way around the base of the shoe. Featuring a super tough midsole that excels in support and durability.

As you begin to rise to the upper shoe, scepticism may be your first thought. It was mine at least. I didn’t think the synthetic leather would offer much protection, and to be honest, I instantly jumped to the wrong conclusion. But to my surprise, the synthetic leather fends off debris with ease and absorbs solid impacts outstandingly.

As well as exceptional protection, Shimano claims that the synthetic leather absorbs less water and dries much faster than most other materials used on mountain biking shoes. And I must say, the claims appear to be true. I’m forever listening to complaints from Candace about her five tens being wet when I’ve barely noticed a drop.

Win for Shimano!

While the Shimano AM901’s aren’t waterproof, their resistance to water is far better than many other options out there.

Now it’s time for the negative. The low cut ankle line – designed for comfort – is where the Shimano AM901 lacks on the protection front. These shoes offer no real support against ankle rolling – which can happen more than you would expect. And your protruding ankle bones are exposed to the possibilty of a nasty clash.

Personally, I’m happy to accept this compromise. I much rather the manoeuvrability offered by the low cut design and I’ve never had a drama before… touch wood. But it may be something to consider if you are after something foolproof.

The Shimano AM901 provides excellent protection all-round with only a few minor drawbacks. None of which should turn you off this epic MTB shoe.

Close up of Shimano Am901 SPD Shoes riding around a berm in Glenrock Mountain Bike Trails

Shimano AM901 Durability

Durability and protection almost go hand in hand and I’ve found the Shimano AM901’s to excel in every area, except for one…

Now, I haven’t mentioned much about the quick lace system used on the AM901. And in this case, I definitely haven’t saved the best till last.

From the early days, the original laces began fraying around the first hole near the top of the tongue. I guess it was a result of tightening the shoe…

Perhaps the most annoying part is that Shimano claims to have used an armoured lace shield for improved protection.

Not very impressed.

Shimano Am901 SPD mtb Shoes broken speed lace system

Luckily a replacement set (Part No: ESMSHMT44SLK) is easily acquired and you can’t really complain about $9 AUD. The replacement laces appear to be much burlier than the original set and with any luck, they will last the distance.

Apart from the laces, the Shimano AM901’s are about as durable as you can get. They have exceeded my expectations and continue to impress me by showing barely any signs of wear.

I have been running these shoes for over a year now and generally ride my bike several times a week. If I were to look at the condition of these shoes, I’d guess they were only weeks old.

The most impressive part is the sole. There are almost no signs of gouging, even where the spikes of my Crankbrother DH Mallets rest.

The lack of wear may be assisted by me running a looser than normal set-up. But come on, look at them… not even a groove!

Shimano Am901 SPD mtb Shoes bottom cleat channel

The inner padding has followed suit with the tough exterior, showing little to no signs of wear. Even after 18 months of riding, the padding still provides quality support, comparable with the first day I bought them.

No matter how much I thrash these shoes on the trail, I cannot seem to destroy them. I love the longevity that the AM901’s provide and hope they stay with me for many years to come.

And What About The Style?

Whoops I almost forgot about the most important aspect… how silly of me.

Do the Shimano AM901’s look good?

I mean, put anything on me and they’ll look good. So it’s a bit of a flawed test, but I’ll do my best to give an unbiased opinion.

Ok, let’s get back to serious Dylan.

Personally, I don’t think these shoes are very pretty. But what MTB shoes are? They’re shoes designed for mountain biking, they aren’t meant to be pretty!

The design is loosely based around a skate shoe, so they definitely look better when compared to a flagship cross-country shoe. However, I still wouldn’t be wearing them around town.

I’d say my opinion comes mostly from the choice of colour. One good old shade of grey… pretty boring if you ask me. I’d suggest that Shimano introduce several colour options if they want these shoes to be more appealing.

But like most people (I hope), I didn’t buy these shoes for style. I bought them because they are one of the best gravity mountain biking shoes out there.

And for that reason, I would without a doubt buy the Shimano AM901 SPD Downhill shoes again.

Shimano Am901 SPD mtb Shoes

Final Verdict

Shimano’s AM901’s are an outstanding performer in all conditions and provide superb comfort. This not only makes it a top contender for the best clipless gravity shoe, but the best gravity shoe full stop.

On the trails, the AM901 excels in manoeuvrability and grip without compromising responsiveness for those cross-country rides. So while this shoe is heavily focused on downhill riding, it can’t be ruled out as a robust all-round mountain biking shoe.

The Shimano AM901 has far exceeded my expectations and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase… I’m excited to test the new AM902, but judging by the durability I’ve experienced on the AM901, it might be a long time before I need to buy another pair of MTB shoes.

Shimano, you freakin’ nailed it!!!!!

Shimano AM901 Review Pinterest Pin
Shimano AM901 Review Pinterest Pin
Shimano AM901 Review Pinterest Pin

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