Mountain bike shoes form your connection to the pedals, which are an important point of contact with your bike. You use them to propel your bike forward and help you control your steering. The many styles of off-road shoes are as varied as the many types of MTBs and E-MTBs. Some are optimised for power transfer, while others focus on cushioning, comfort and control. Unlike road cycling shoes, most MTB shoes have a flat sole with tread that you can walk well in. Many are more universal and can even be worn every day. To help you find the right shoes in our extensive range, we’ll give you an overview of the most important features. View Guide
Which mountain bike shoes are right for me?
You can find the right MTB shoes by considering a number of factors. In addition to the fundamental choice of clipless or flat pedals, you should think about how much tread you need and how stiff or flexible (and comfortable) the sole should be, depending on the intended use. The upper material determines how airy and breathable your shoes are and what kind of weather they are suited for. The closure system is a matter of convenience. Last but not least, mountain bike shoes should also look good. Our selection of high-quality shoes from Five Ten, Giro, Shimano, Specialized, Sidi, Vaude, ION, Fizik, crankbrothers, etnies, Northwave and others includes something for everyone.
MTB Shoes for Flat Pedals and Clipless Shoes
The most distinguishing feature of mountain biking shoes is the type of sole. Basically, the sole should match your pedals. Clipless shoes for mountain biking have a threaded insert in the sole under the ball of the foot. Here the cleat is installed with two screws. Shoes for flat pedals, on the other hand, have full-length rubber soles that are optimised for maximum grip on the pedal pins. Five Ten were pioneers in this area in the 2000s: the Americans further developed rubber compounds from the climbing shoe sector and made a breakthrough in flat pedal shoe design. Whether you ride pedals and MTB shoes with or without cleats is a question of principle, but not a reason to use all your bikes with the same pair of shoes. Many mountain bikers switch between the two systems depending on their bike, their mood or the weather. We have a post on our blog that goes over the special features of different clipless pedal systems and another post on flat pedals.
Which shoes go with which mountain bike?
Different disciplines bring with them different requirements. If you ride cross-country on your MTB, lightweight shoes with particularly stiff soles are a good choice. This is the most efficient way to get power to the pedals. High-end MTB race shoes are therefore often equipped with carbon soles that are both light and stiff. While MTB shoes for SPD or other clipless pedals dominate in the XC and marathon segments, you have a wide choice of clipless and platform shoes in other segments. MTB shoes for trails and touring shoes are more comfortably constructed and equipped with grippy soles that also allow you to walk well, such as when you’re pushing or carrying your bike. The design of many models is reminiscent of sneakers and everyday shoes. The transition to MTB shoes for downhill and enduro is fluid. All should provide you with safety and control over your bike. Downhill shoes often have protective reinforcements in the ankle area.
MTB Shoes for Winter and Bad Weather
If you ride year-round, then waterproof MTB shoes are a worthwhile investment. Gore-Tex® or similar membranes in combination with waterproofed uppers keep your feet dry on wet trails and in the rain. While a dry shoe is an important prerequisite for warm feet, lined shoes help on cold days in autumn or in winter. The US brand 45NRTH, with its roots in fat biking, has specialised in exactly this area. Alternatively, you can try wearing thicker socks or even a second pair of socks. However, you should make sure that the fit of your shoes isn’t too tight. If it’s adversely affecting your blood circulation, then this can actually contribute to cold feet.
Closure Systems on Mountain Bike Shoes
Our range includes MTB shoes with different closure systems. All provide a good amount of hold on the foot. Which one you choose is primarily a matter of personal preference, and determines how easy the shoes are to put on and take off. Some manufacturers use a combination of different closures on one shoe. The following are commonly found on MTB shoes:
- Hook & loop fasteners
- Quick release closures with ratchet fasteners
- Quick release fasteners with Boa®