The shoes are without doubt the most ill-treated clothing during mountain biking. They have to face sun, rain, snow, rocks, mud, etc. MTB shoes protect your feet from all possible dangerous situations. Just because they suffer a lot, they must be carefully chosen.
Before you buy them you will need to make an argument and understand what mountain biking are you going to address and what type of shoes are appropriate for that practice.
Below are some tips and suggestions to guide you in choosing and a list of some models of shoes covering the range of products that the market offers.
As you know well, the practice of mountain biking is always restless and on the move. New disciplines are born every two to three years. Companies need to keep pace with the times and adapt to the market, the bikes continue to evolve with new components and new geometries.
Even clothing undergoes constant improvements and changes. Returning to the subject of our discussion, the MTB shoes adapt to this trend, and from year to year change: companies diversify their products according to requirements and disciplines are chosen by bikers and this is why choosing the right shoe becomes more complex.
What type of shoes is the best for mountain biking?
If you use the bike for a while you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you do not know, I’ll explain it. There are primarily two types of pedals for mountain bikes – those with the clipless system (SPD and Crankbrothers are the best known) allow the foot to stay attached to the pedal to increase the performance of pedalling and prevent slipping during wet or damp conditions.
The flat pedals do not have any foot attachment system that is free to move, except for the presence of some pin that increases the grip between the shoe and pedal.
The choice between the former and the latter is also conditioned by the discipline that takes practice. Generally in most “rides” such as the Cross Country disciplines, pedals with the coupling are used while in gravity disciplines, the use of flat is more common. If your trips are almost exclusively on easy terrain and rarely come down to push the bike, we recommend the clipless system.
Once you get used to it, you’ll never go back. If you often face mountains and very technical descents, where you need to push the bike and you must consider whether the stiffness of an MTB shoe with the hooks does not make you suffer too much or the psychological security of a free foot allows you to deal the technical sections with more courage. If so, you can think of using flat pedals.
Do mountain bike shoes matter?
Well, you decide whether to use flat pedals or clipless pedals. Even if your choice fell on the first, do not go mountain biking with sneakers or loafers, let’s leave them for those who ride a bike to work or in town! MTB shoes must have certain features which ensure security, stability, comfort and performance.
Let us briefly explain to you what are the main features to consider in a mountain bike shoe:
Mountain Bike Shoes Features to Look for (Buyers Guide)
- Rigidity – The main feature that improves efficiency in pedalling. A stiff sole allows to pedal with more power and keeps the foot stable. The downside is the loss of comfort – laying the ball of the foot on a hard surface reduces the convenience especially if you bike for many hours. There are carbon fiber soles that are rigid but are only suitable for those who plan to devote themselves to competition. Finding the right balance between rigidity and comfort is essential for those who want to cycle for hours and maybe even occasionally do some walking, in which case you can not ignore the rubber sole.
- Grip –Especially in downhill and in humid conditions, it is essential to have a good grip on the pedal but above all on the ground when you are forced to dismount. Having tessellated soles and having a compound not too stiff especially helps a lot.
- Comfort – The first thing you are looking for in an MTB shoe is comfort! If you keep wearing it for hours, you do not want problems. To improve this characteristic, the soles of some shoes are made of microporous material EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), and some use the VIBRAM technology to absorb shock.
- Firmness –An MTB shoe must remain well anchored to the foot and for this purpose the closure is decisive: even in this field there are numerous alternatives. The best solution for athletes is that represented by micrometric levers or the BOA system with a circular ratchet. The velcro associated with the laces is in my opinion the most practical and suitable for casual bikers.
- Waterproofing and Breathability – Often waterproofing and breathability are in conflict as it is hard to find materials that do pass air but not water. The foot needs to breathe but it stays dry. The GORETEX combines these two qualities, waterproof and breathable, so the shoes made with this material are ideal. What’s the downside? The cost.
- Visibility – A secondary feature in an MTB shoe is visibility. Maybe so, but you sometimes have to bike through a dark tunnel or maybe do asphalt roads in the evening. In this case any reflective insert or high visibility color is useful!
What kind of a Biker are you?
Tell me what kind of a biker you are and I’ll tell you what shoes to use.
These few words could sum up my thoughts on the choice of MTB shoes. As I said, talking about mountain biking, in general, is becoming more difficult: if we were to consider the different disciplines, including Cross Country, All Mountain, Enduro, Freeride, and Downhill, you run the risk of getting lost. Personally, I do not despise the Cross Country but I am an All Mountain biker who occasionally dabbles with Enduro. So, doing the math, if I had to buy a pair of shoes for each discipline, I’d be bankrupt!
Bikers can be divided into 3 categories:
- Beginner – You have just started to ride a bike on a Sunday. You pedal mainly on dirt roads or easy trails and do not overlook some biking on asphalt. The shoe for you to be comfortable and breathable. The shoe must be comfortable enough to walk a few steps to see a scenic spot. Forget carbon soles or pawl for closing, look for a natural rubber outsole with EVA structure if you plan to use your shoes especially off-road. Velcro straps if you have some extra money to spend. If you bike in winter you could do a little thought to a GoreTex shoe.
- Advanced – You have been mountain biking for fun for years. You are an expert. You like challenges and the mountains; the paths do not scare you, no matter how rough and steep they are. A semi-rigid sole rubber with well-marked tessellation, Velcro fastener or ratchet to keep the foot firm. If you can afford it, buy a shoe with a Vibram outsole and EVA structure, perhaps made with GORETEX. As mentioned, the market is very vast and caters for all needs. For “big feet” there are special models of MTB shoes. If you bike in the evening, go for a high visibility colour while the cold lovers can choose the models specially made for winter. These are just some examples of mountain bike shoes for those with special needs. Doing a search online you will find many more.
- Active Competitor – If you like to participate in some races marathons or Cross Country Mountain Biking. You are subscribed to a company, go out to train and rarely think to stop, you fall under this category.
You need the best possible shoes that meet our needs on the field. Go for a hard shoe that guarantees excellent performance even if you lose a bit of comfort. You could go for a carbon sole with a closing ratchet better wrap the foot. No matter if the tessellation of the sole is minimal as you will rarely use the MTB shoes for walking.
Best Mountain Biking Shoes for Beginners
The shoes that you find below are some of the hundreds available on the market so if you can not find the right mix for you, do not hesitate to make a more thorough search. Most of the shoes mentioned below are sold online at stores like Amazon.
I suggest you check offers on Amazon due to the availability of discounts throughout the years. That said, let’s get to the MTB shoes.
Tommaso Montagna is a respected Italian cycling shoe company that has been designing and manufacturing shoes for over 100 years. They are best known for their cycling shoes, but also offer casual shoes for men and women.
Tommaso Montagna’s cycling shoes are made with top-quality materials and are designed to be lightweight, durable, and supportive. They are available in a variety of colors and are perfect for cyclists of all levels.
This mountain bike shoe is designed for the competitive cyclist looking for a durable, quality shoe. This shoe is not only perfect for mountain biking, but also for indoor cycling. The shoe features a nylon outsole with rubber pads for extra grip and durability. It has also a Velcro strap for easy on and off and a buckle strap for stability.
The Five Ten Sleuth DLX is a lace-up, men’s hiking shoe with a durable leather upper and a full-length Vibram® Stealth rubber outsole. The laces are woven nylon and are designed to never break.
The lining is made of mesh for added breathability. The tread pattern is made for all-terrain performance and has a 3mm lug depth. The heel height is 3.5 inches.
These Tommaso Vertice Men’s 100, 200, All Mountain Vibram Sole Mountain Bike Shoes are perfect for anyone that is on their feet all day. These shoes are durable and provide a good grip on the ground. They also have a comfortable fit that will allow you to work through your day without any discomfort.