This is my first season using clipless pedals and I ride these with a pair of Shimano 545's. Compared to the skateboard shoes I started off riding with these are worlds better and much stiffer. Before skateboard shoes I rode with regular tennis shoes and slammed my foot into a tree stump, which hurt really bad. The overall protection this shoe offers for unfortunate tree stump encounters is invaluable. As a newcomer to clipless I'm frequently riding sketchy terrain unclipped with these shoes, and find the grip amazingly good even though they are not specifically designed for it. I ride these with flat pedals as well and find them to be a great all-rounder bike shoe. I considered the AM41 but decided that the clipless feature may come in handy for less sketchy terrain and I can work my way up with them, and were a necessity for BMX racing.
My only gripe is from what others claim, that these are slightly more difficult to clip in/out of than regular bike cleats, but that is understandable given their more recessed clip location.