Whether you’re a new or experienced cyclist, finding a good pair of mountain bike shoes is important.
Look, there are only 3 contact points between your body your bike; handlebar grips, saddle, and pedals. A good pair of shoes would allow you to be comfortable and yet be efficient in your pedal strokes.
If you’ve spent any time searching for mountain bike shoes, you’ve likely discovered that it can be incredibly challenging to determine which ones are best for you.
Every shoe is different and has its pros and cons, but if you know what to look for, you should be able to narrow your search.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite Shoes for Mountain Biking
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Budget MTB Shoes
Giro Privateer R
The Giro Privateer R has been updated the outsole from the original version.
It’s now made of co-molded nylon and rubber to provide an excellent mix of comfort, stiffness, and grip.
Furthermore, the shoe has a ratchet closure system. It has two hook-and-loop straps across the midfoot and toes that are easy to adjust. The upper part of the shoe is made of soft, breathable microfibre. It also features perforations to provide an extra cooling and a minimalist profile.
Additionally, the shoes have two-bolt compatibility. They also have a molded EVA insole with medium arch support. Finally, Giro offers a one-year warranty for peace of mind.
The Giro Terraduro is primarily meant for cross country (XC) mountain biking.
It features a robust nylon shank with a Vibram rubber outsole in the forefoot. This makes it an excellent shoe for hiking as well should you need to walk to the trail.
Moreover, the shoes have micro-adjustable buckles and two hook-and-loop straps, which gives you a secure fit when wearing the shoes.
Additionally, Giro made the shoe with perforations and a breathable microfiber interior. This makes it so air flows through the shoes, keeping your feet nice and cool.
Pearl Izumi X-Alp Peak
The Pearl Izumi is designed to get through the bad parts of the trail.
So, if you need to carry your bike through an unrideable area, you’ll have the shoes for the job.
The outsole of the shoe features a durable Vibram rubber compound. Additionally, it has a 3/4 length carbon composite shank. This gives the shoe more flexibility when walking while maintaining your efficiency while pedaling.
Furthermore, the shoes are breathable and very comfortable. They are also lightweight, which you’ll appreciate if you’re going for a long ride.
These shoes have two-bolt compatibility, and Pearl Izumi recommends that you use them for trail biking. Finally, the shoes have a lifetime warranty.
Value for Money MTB Shoes
The XC7 is one of Shimano’s most popular off-road shoes.
It is a race-ready shoe that has a carbon-reinforced midsole that makes it lighter and improves pedaling efficiency. It gets a 9 out of 12 on the Shimano outsole stiffness scale, which is stiff enough for almost anyone who isn’t a professional athlete.
The rubberized outsole has toe spike mounts if you’re riding somewhere with lots of mud. Shimano has built a shoe that they claim increases pedal efficiency by 0.56% on each stroke. That might not seem like a lot, but over time it’ll make a significant difference over a long bike ride.
The upper of the shoe is secured with dual BOA L6 dials. This means that you can adjust your shoes’ fit in small increments to get the perfect fit. The shoe envelopes your foot instead of strapping it down, creating more consistent support and reducing pressure points.
Fizik X5 Terra
The Fizik X5 Terra comes in a plethora of sizes, so you shouldn’t have a problem fitting into it. It also comes in six different colors to suit your personal preference.
The closure system for the shoe is a single L6 dial B and a single strap. This closure system gives the rider the ability to make micro-adjustments to the fit of the shoe. It also has an outsole that features injected carbon and TPU co-injected studs.
The shoes also are relatively lightweight, weighing 282g in size 42.5. Being lighter will help you conserve energy on long rides in the mountains. They also have an upper with laser perforated Microtel, which makes the shoes breathable.
The Giro Cylinder is a comfortable, lightweight, and breathable shoe that provides a great deal of versatility.
It doesn’t matter if you’re riding on an XC singletrack or you’re weaving through the tree lines, and the Giro Cylinder will provide you with the support you need.
The shoe has a lightweight upper construction and is made of synthetic leather and mesh, making it breathable. It also has reinforcement on the toe and heel that will protect you from debris.
It also accommodates steel toe spikes, giving you the ability to get an extra grip in adverse conditions. The BOA single BOA dial and front velcro strap provide you with a snug yet comfortable fit.
Finally, Giro offers a one year warranty on the product. So, if anything breaks with the shoe, you can get it replaced.
Performance Oriented MTB Shoes
If you’re looking for a shoe that is used by professional mountain bikers all around the world, the Shimano S-Phyre XC9 is the shoe for you.
They’re popular because they’re incredibly lightweight, and provide excellent pedaling efficiency. However, that’s not the only thing that’s important to professionals; they also need to be comfortable. They have a perforated upper that provides breathability and a good fit.
The shoe is constructed with a one-piece upper that is made from Teijin synthetic material. This material is water-resistant, which is very important for cross country cyclists.
The back of the shoe has an external cup that covers the carbon sole and the back of the heel. This design provides support for the heel and helps prevent twisting and rolling. The shoe also has a cat tongue that bolsters the foothold, giving you a solid foundation for generating a lot of power at the start of a race.
Fizik X1 Infinito
The Fizik X1 Infinito weighs only 294g, making it a light-enough shoe for most competitive mountain bikers.
It also has excellent power transfer that competes with most other high-end shoes. The shoes also have a mesh insole with Dynamic Arch Support technology that provides excellent comfort and breathability.
The closure system of this shoe features two micro-adjustable double Boa IP1-B dials, as well as running laces that are in an infinite configuration that you can adjust to fit your forefoot. Another benefit of these shoes is that you won’t need to worry about unwanted pressure points, thanks to the soft textile guides.
The outsole of the shoe is made of stiff carbon fiber. There are also aggressive treads on the heel and toe that give you excellent grip and protection on and off the bike.
The Sidi Tiger is the lightest mountain bike shoe produced by Sidi, weighing 100g lighter than the next lightest shoe they produce.
However, that isn’t the only benefit of purchasing this shoe, as it has a plethora of enticing features. Firstly, the Glow Yellow/ Black colorway lights up in the dark. This makes it so other people on the trail can see you in the dark.
The shoe also has a Microfiber TechPro upper that provides excellent abrasion-resistance and foot stability. The synthetic upper repels any debris that you might encounter while out on the trail. There are also vents across the shoe that improve temperature regulation and keep your feet fresh.
Sidi believes that the most important thing to consider with a mountain bike shoe is how well it fits. To ensure that their shoes fit anyone, they use the Double Tecno 3 Push System. This closure system features dual micro-adjustable dials centered on the shoe, so you’ll have a symmetrical balance of tension and no pressure points.
Flat Pedal MTB Shoes
Ride Concept Livewire
If you aren’t planning on cycling competitively and only want to go mountain biking every once in a while, the Ride Concept Livewire is for you.
It is very durable, so no matter the trail, these shoes shouldn’t have a problem. This is because they are crafted with synthetic uppers that feature anti-abrasion mesh. They also have DST 6.0 rubber that firmly grips the pedals.
The shoes have custom-molded toe and heel guards to provide you with a little extra protection. Another feature of the shoes is an EVA midsole that offers considerable shock absorption.
The Shimano SH-GR9 flat pedal shoe performs best on big terrains.
This is because of the durable upper construction that provides a lot of protection and breathability for the rider.
The shoes fit well thanks to the speed lace system that gives the rider the ability to make quick and easy adjustments. They also feature laser-cut perforations that make them breathable. There is extra protection on the shoes thanks to the asymmetrical inner ankle cut. This gives the shoe extra padding that will help a lot if you crash.
Shimano uses the Michelin compound to provide you with a little extra grip on the pedals and while hiking up the mountain. The rubber is also incredibly durable, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your shoes on the hike.
Giro Jacket 2
The Giro Jacket 2 is made for dirt jumping and downhill riding. It has a grippy sole, so you don’t have to worry about gripping the pedals.
The shoes have a Vibram rubber outsole that provides phenomenal pedal feedback. The EVA midsole provides excellent shock absorption when riding down a rocky trail. Luckily this isn’t at the expense of comfort and protection as the shoes have a Poron XRD crash pad that provides a significant amount of padding.
The shoes use laces and a keeper strap for their closure system. The strap ensures that the laces won’t get caught in the bike chain.
Giro offers a one year warranty on these shoes should anything unfortunate occur.
MTB Shoes Buying Guide & Tips
1. Clipless vs Flat Pedal Shoes
Today, you’ll find 2 different types of mountain bike shoes.
Each has its own pros and cons, and more importantly, it also depends on your personal preference.
If you haven’t used clipless shoes before, you should consider making the switch.
If you’re ready to try a pair of clipless mountain bike shoes, you should practice with them on the road before taking them on the mountain. The challenging thing isn’t riding with them; it’s clipping on and off while on your bike.
Clipless shoes attach to the pedal, which makes cycling much more efficient because you can pull the pedal up as well as push it down.
It’s prevalent for someone to fall off their bike when trying to stop because they can’t unclip their shoes as quickly as they’d like. You don’t want this to happen when you’re slowing down on a sharp turn on a mountain.
So, make sure you get your practice in and are comfortable with the shoes before using them on a mountain.
Read More : 9 Beginner Tips for Using Clipless Pedals
Flat Pedal Shoes
If you’re a beginner, you won’t want to start with clipless shoes.
Instead, start with flats pedal shoes with flat pedals. Alternatively, you can also use running shoes with flat pedals, but it wouldn’t be as comfortable.
Flat mountain bike shoes will typically have a flat sole, which maximizes the contact area with the pedal. The more surface area you have on the pedal, the more force you’ll be able to generate with each push.
2. Clipless vs Flat Pedals
Simply put, clipless pedals are meant to be used with clipless shoes.
All clipless mountain bike pedals from leading brands such as Shimano and CrankBrothers are designed to be used with a 2-bolt cleat design.
For Shimano, these are often referred to as Shimano SPD pedals. The SPD-SL cleats are 3-bolt, which is meant for road bike shoes.
On the other hand, if your bike has flat pedals, then clipless shoes won’t be an option for you unless you get a new set of clipless pedals.
3. Inner Sole Stiffness Index
Each brand has its own stiffness index. As a result, you can’t directly compare the stiffness of shoes from different brands based on rating alone.
The higher the number, the stiffer it is.
Geek Tip : A general rule of thumb is that if you’re a serious mountain biker, you should consider getting a stiffer shoe for more pedaling efficiency.
Conversely, recreational riders should get shoes that aren’t as stiff so that they’ll benefit from the extra comfort that comes with it.
Today, the inner soles are made from 3 types of materials.
- Carbon fiber soles in shoes such as the Shimano S-Phyre XC9, Fizik X1 Infinito and Sidi Tiger are the stiffest and offers high pedaling efficiency, but they’re also the most expensive.
- Nylon soles have the lowest pedaling efficiency, but they’re also among the cheapest. So, if you aren’t planning on riding too often, nylon soles such as the Giro Privateer, Pearl Izumi X-Alp and Fizik X5 Terra might be the best option for you.
- Composite carbon soles (carbon reinforced) such as the Shimano XC7 fall in the middle. They provide above average pedaling efficiency, and they fall in between the price range of nylon and carbon fiber shoes.
4. Outsole Grip
The outsole of the shoe is the part that touches the ground. A good outsole is crucial because sometimes you’ll need to walk to the top of the mountain instead of ride. In these situations, you’ll appreciate a comfortable and durable outsole.
Today, you’ll often see leading rubber makers such as Michelin, Continental, and Vibram providing the outsole of mountain bike shoes.
5. Closure System
There are 3 types of closure systems used in mountain bike shoes.
- Velcro. The velcro straps are straightforward to use and are among the best closure systems available despite being one of the oldest. They provide great adjustability and can be adjusted even when on your bike.
- Ratchet. The ratchets are small, adjustable plastic straps, similar to snowboard bindings in the way they work.
- BOA. BOA systems are the most modern closure systems on the market. They’re very high-end and incredibly reliable. They use a dial that allows for micro-adjustment, giving you the perfect fit. Since this system is still new, you can only find it in high-end shoes. Additionally, although it might be an unfamiliar system, it can be adjusted mid-ride.
Breathable shoes are made of fabrics that allow water vapor to escape while maintaining water repellence.
Having breathable shoes is beneficial because it keeps your feet cool and dry. They’re accommodating in warmer climates.