Ben Reviews: SPD Mountain Bike Shoes
Whether you run flats or clipless, your mountain bike shoes are a personal preference, and given how much power and distress you put your shoes through, it’s essential to consider your options when making a purchase. In the Afan Valley Bike Shed, we sell a variety of clipless shoes, many of which we try ourselves so we can offer more in-depth advice to customers. Over the past few months and years, Ben’s been busy trying out three very different pairs of SPD mountain bike shoes, and here’s how he’s been getting on with them.
The SH-AM901 mountain bike shoes are a flagship enduro model for the Shimano brand. Offering armoured lace shield for extra protection with a moulded toe cap, padded asymmetric ankle collar, and a pedal channel for a stable shoe to pedal platform when not clipped in, these shoes are a well-rounded package for anyone looking to venture into clipping in.
“For me, the Shimano AM901 SPD mountain bike shoes are the oldest ones I’ve been wearing. They’re lightweight with a lace-up system, which is great because you can get them nice and tight. The flap is brilliant for offering a little extra protection, and for keeping the feet a bit drier in wet weather.
The fit is wide and true to size, and I like these mainly because they wear like regular shoes. I love the clean look of these, with no laces to flap around and get caught in things. However, I find the sole to be a little soft for me as I usually prefer a stiffer mountain bike shoe.”
Giro Chamber II
Constructed from a water-resistant, breathable microfiber upper, full Vibram Megagrip high-traction lugged outsole and optimized EVA midsole for enhanced comfort, the Giro Chamber II mountain bike shoes have gone down a storm in the world of bikes. These shoes are tricked out with all the features to make these as comfortable as possible, without sacrificing on performance.
“These are the Goldilocks of mountain bike shoes for me – they’re just right. Providing a snug fit, these shoes are pretty stiff, without being too stiff. While they are available in a high-cut version, I found the low-cut ones to rub less on my ankles. The ‘Powerstrap’ feature is a little redundant as it doesn’t seem to do very much at all. However, over a year of wearing these shoes in all terrains and weather conditions, they’ve held up really well!”
Ride Concepts Transition
Relatively new to the mountain bike scene is Ride Concepts, who have quickly gained traction in the industry for their huge variety of well thought out shoes – oh, and the Athertons’ wear them also. The Ride Concepts Transition clipless shoes are the latest shoe addition in the Afan Valley Bike Shed, and they’re a force to be reckoned with. Offering D30 protection throughout, a DST 8.0 MID GRIP rubber outsole and a tech-savvy medial high-rise EVA midsole to provide support and shock absorption, these shoes are ready for anything.
“Of all three shoes, these are the narrowest fit with the stiffest sole. They took me a few rides to get used to, but I’ve come to really like them. Unlike the Giro Chamber II shoes, the ‘Powerstrap’ on the Ride Concepts actually works, and you’re able to secure a tight fit, even if they laces aren’t tied properly. Using both Shimano and Nukeproof pedals, I had some difficulty clipping in with these shoes; however, once you get the hang of it, it’s no bother at all.“
“All three of these pairs are fairly high-end, all with great toe protection and all were used predominantly with Shimano pedals. If you want performance, I’d recommend Ride Concepts, and if you’re looking for comfort, I’d go with the Giro shoes. However, Shimano is a good combination of both, and they offer the lightest weight at the lowest price of the three pairs.”