Mountain bike shoes are specially designed bike shoes that have evolved alongside the development of the mountain bike. The rough terrain and athletic, full-body movements of mountain bike riding demand the kind of shoes that will keep the rider firm on the pedals and absorb any unpredictable bumps along the way.
Like the development of their mountain bikes, brands apply the same amount of resources and attention towards developing the best mountain bike shoes. From performance brands such as Five Ten and Shimano to the casual styles of brands like Ride Concepts and Lake, there are mountain bike shoes for all types of riders.
Flat pedal shoes & clipless mountain bike shoes
The two most common types of mountain bike shoes are flat pedal shoes and clipless mountain bike shoes. Neither one is better than the other, but both serve a specific function and depend on what kind of rider you are and are some of the best mountain bike shoes.
The flat pedal shoes are exactly what the name suggests, with your feet positioned flat on the pedals. These are the perfect first shoes for beginner riders as the grip of the soles tends to be thicker and with grip that is resistant to any mud or dirt you may pick up along the way. These shoes are cheaper than their clipless counterparts and are styled more like a casual sneaker.
On the other hand, clipless mountain bike shoes use cleats to attach the shoes to the clipless pedals. They are the best option for pedal grip as they literally stick you to the pedal which ensures that there is a full power transfer to the bike. They should only be used for cross country riding or non-technical rides, and they should not be used on terrain that has verticality.
Understanding the Boa dial
A common feature that is always seen on the best mountain bike shoes, is the Boa dial. They usually appear along the bridge of the shoes, but can also be up near the tongue, and give you the freedom to adjust the fit. By twisting the dial, you either tighten or loosen the laces making for a personalised fit that allows you to go beyond the original construction of the shoes for extra comfort during your rides.
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With a range that includes clip, clipless and flat pedal shoes, you’ll experience a more natural feel that considers the foot and the pedal a unified system. The ‘Mallet Boa’ clip shoes provide high friction and low rebound, giving you a secure hold on the pedals and even surfaces where walking is involved.
Their range of mountain bike shoes come equipped with weather-repelling technologies and materials that will stick you to the bike even in the worst conditions. The Five Ten ‘Hellcat Pro’ shoes feature a synthetic upper that is water-repellent and the rubber treads will absorb any shocks and vibrations giving you great traction off the bike.
This dedication to detail can be felt throughout their entire range of mountain bike shoes, and feature technologies like the boa dial for quick adjustments and techniques for a secure feel across the forefoot. The best comes with the ‘Empire Vr90’ shoes, featuring carbon fibre outsoles and high performing rubber treads that include technologies such as Megagrip and Idrogrip.
Optimised for the fast twitch movements of off terrain, their range of mountain bike shoes strike the perfect balance between grip, durability and flexibility. The ‘XC7’ shoes are Japanese engineering at it’s finest, with high-density leather to keep off any unwanted dirt or mud and an adjustable wire guide for a smooth power transfer between your foot and the pedal.
Dedicated to creating the best mountain bike shoes, Ride Concepts’ range offers everything you need out of high-performing shoes and finished with a casual look. The ‘Transition’ are clipless bike shoes that include high-impact insole technology, reducing fatigue for a comfortable ride, all day long.
The Pearl Izumi X ALP series are the best mountain bike shoes on offer, and come in a variety of styles, reinforced by materials and technologies that are designed for different types of rides. Whether you are going long-distance cross country or for a gravel-kicking downhill trek, they will feature synthetic uppers and a padded toe and heel.
At first glance, the range of shoes catch the eye with their sleek and sporty designs but it’s the technological features that will give you versatile performance on the trails. With the ‘Multi Air Flex II’ shoes you’ll find an EVA insole that induces ventilation and retention inside the cup to keep your heel in place, making them ideal for that weekend adventure.
With the ‘Bontrager XXX’ shoes, you’ll find the very best on offer, designed for those demanding rides that require quick responsiveness. With a lightweight carbon sole for efficient power transfer and dual boa dial for zone-specific fit adjustments.
The range of their best mountain bike shoes aim to put your strength to good use with their stiff soles and flexible uppers that ensure a smooth power transfer. Along the ‘MTB Team BOA’ shoes upper, you’ll find a mix of pliable microfibre and airy mesh panelling that will adapt to the shape of your foot.
This means they have some mountain bike shoes that are much bulkier than your average shoes, resembling a hiking boot but with all the functions that will help you perform on the trails. If you are after a more conventional mountain bike shoe, you’ll find the best in the ‘MXZ176’ shoes that include insulation for those cold days and a sole reinforced with anti-slip Ice Lock technology.
The range of their best mountain bike shoes are loaded with technologies that will give you a competitive edge such as closure systems that prevent your feet from going numb. The ‘SD15’ shoes are the best example, with a techno-closure hook and loop strap that provides a secure fit and a stable sole for a solid power transfer to the pedals.
The range of mountain bike shoes feature foot conforming fits that are ideal for those long days of riding. With the ‘Crossmax Elite’ shoes, you’ll be supported by an Orthalite sole, grip to the pedals with the Energy Grip technology and keep everything secure with the Ergo boa dial that provides micro-adjustable precision.
Whether it’s cross country or enduro, their range of mountain bike shoes are some of the toughest and won’t crumble against all of the dirt, dust and mud. For those rough terrains, you’ll want to go with the ‘Enduro Mid’ shoes, with a rugged design built around those moments on the trails when you’ll need to shoulder your bike.
Their range of mountain bike shoes includes designs from casual clip shoes to shoes that double as a hiking boot, and everything in between. If you are looking for a shoe that lives up to the brand's name, then the ‘X1 Infinito’ shoes will give you a glove-like fit with the increased volume control on the dual boa dial and a carbon sole for an efficient power transfer.
The ‘Lactic’ mountain bike shoes are the perfect fit for a cross country ride and will support you during those ‘hike a bike’ moments thanks to the mud-clinging studs. With carbon soles that sport a wider fit and allow for an optimal power transfer, these shoes have been rigorously tested and will perform on the trails.