Mountain biking is a fun way to work out and connect with nature. It is an exciting sport, and compared to normal biking; it is more adventurous. Over the years, mountain biking has become more popular among young people. Mountain biking is different from regular biking. It requires bikes and other gears, specially made for mountain biking.
Many say a good mountain bike is enough for a pleasant mountain biking experience. But that’s not true. You will require a pair of best mountain bike shoes for a safe and satisfying trip. A quality MTB shoe ensures solid power to the pedals, strong construction, secure fit, and relaxation for long days on the track.
Nowadays, there are various mountain bike shoes available in the market to choose from. So you may find it very difficult to pick the best MTB shoe for mountain biking. These shoes vary from size, built quality, performance, features, price, etc.
Therefore, we have picked some of the best mountain bike shoes that will keep you firmly connected to your bike on all types of terrain. Make sure you read the full article thoroughly as we also include the buying guide to help you choose the best MTB shoe for your mountain biking activities.
Top 6 Mountain Bike Shoes (Best picks)
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6 Best Mountain Bike Shoes of 2020
- Giro Empire VR90 Shoes – Men’s
- Five Ten Men’s Freerider Pro Bike Shoes
- Fizik X5 Terra Mountain Bike Shoe
- Giro Jacket II Cycling Shoe – Men’s
- Louis Garneau Men’s Granite 2 MTB Shoes
- SHIMANO SH-ME7 Men’s Mountain Bike
My Top Picks of the Best Mountain Bike Shoes of 2020
1.Giro Empire VR90 Shoes – Men’s
If you are looking for the best clipless mountain bike shoes, then Giro Empire VR90 Shoes – Men’s will be an excellent choice. The shoe is very comfortable to wear, and the customizable insoles make it stand out over other mountain bike shoes. The customizable insoles ensure the best cross-country riding experience.
This is a lightweight but very durable shoe. It has a stiff carbon sole clad in soft Vibram rubber and lace-up closure. Though, many riders may find both sides of the shoe less protective; so it may be a minus point for aggressive trail riding.
The Giro Empire VR90 Shoes – Men’s is best for small platform clipless pedals. The intended purpose of the manufacture was XC racing, but this shoe also performs well in trail riding, backyard laps, backcountry riding, gravel riding, etc. The Vibram rubber under the sole ensures excellent traction on all hard surfaces.
- Comfortable & lightweight
- Strong grip & traction
- Excellent built quality
- Less protection on sides
- Price a bit high
2. Five Ten Men’s Freerider Pro Bike Shoes
Five Ten Men’s Freerider Pro Bike Shoe is a very popular flat pedal shoe among the mountain bike riders. This shoe has a rubber technology that provides glue-like traction with pedals. It is best for general trail riding. IF you want to feel the ultimate fusion of weight, grip, and pedal while trail riding, then this is the perfect MTB shoe for you.
The shoe is made of Stealth S1 Rubber that ensures high friction while riding. It is abrasion resistance thanks to the versatile compounds of this shoe. The upper part of the shoe is made of rigid fabric, makes it tough enough to retain its shape in rough condition. It has padded ankle collars that avoid heel lift, rubbing, and dirt or stones getting inside the shoe too easily.
Five Ten Men’s Freerider Pro Bike Shoe’s dotted Stealth rubber sole offers excellent hold and gives you a properly locked-on feel while riding the mountain bike. So you will have enough comfort and confidence in severe terrain and bouncing or twisting situations. With all these amazing features, it is one of the best mountain bike shoes available in the market.
- Top-notch fit and durability
- Extra protection on the toe box
- Well ventilated
- Poor walking experience
- No ankle protection
3. Fizik X5 Terra Mountain Bike Shoe
The Fizik X5 Terra Mountain Bike Shoe is a very stylish, lustrous, and comfy shoe that has a sole stiff enough for powerful riding. The shoe is made of either suede or microtex material. The suede version of this shoe is made of natural materials instead of synthetics. This type of shoe is best for stretch and breathability. Moreover, the suede version is more water-resistance compared to microtex version.
The Fizik X5 Terra Mountain Bike Shoe has a slightly narrow design, but the built quality ensures the durability. It has large PU-bonded grip pieces from front to back, which make the shoe more sturdy and supportive in various tough mountain biking situations. The shoe has reinforced carbon sole and TPU grip sections.
Fizik X5 has a Boa retention method and Velcro strap near the toe, which provides a very comfortable fit. However, if you are planning to use this shoe for CX racing, then you might find the space between the cleat and the main section of the tread is quite tight. Other than that this is an amazing MTB shoe in this price range.
- Great ventilation system
- Classy and luxurious fit
- Rigid carbon sole
- Narrow design
- Gets really filthy
- Poor walking experience
4. Giro Jacket II Cycling Shoe – Men’s
Giro Jacket II Cycling Shoe is a very stylish shoe, and it is made for mountain biking, dirt jumping, trail-shredding, hiking, etc. It has a flat pedal and skates shoe design. With the grippy sole, Giro Jacket II will keep your feet protected and provides an amazing biking experience. This is one of the cheapest but excellent built quality mountain bike shoes available in the market.
This shoe has Vibram mega grip rubber outsole, which ensures exceptional grip for trail riding, dirt jumping, and down-hilling. The EVA cushioning in the midsole diminishes shocks, and the Poron XRD heel pad makes the shoe impact resistance. It has classic lacing with a keeper strap. The keeper straps make sure the laces won’t get caught up in your mountain bike’s chain.
This MTB shoe is water resistance, makes it perfect for wet conditions. It is an excellent shoe for long rides and rough trails because of the design and built quality. Therefore, if you are in need of a flat-pedal MTB shoe, Giro Jacket II Cycling Shoe is the right choice for you.
- Skate Style Upper
- Lightweight and durable
- Support single density footbed
- Shock-absorbing midsole
- Lack of flexibilities
- Short velcro strap
5. Louis Garneau Men’s Granite 2 MTB Shoes
Garneau is an award-winning mountain bike shoe manufacturer, and over the years they have produced some of the best MTB shoes available in the market. This shoe has an innovative design and a ventilated elastomer-spandex insert that makes the shoe to stretch to put up B to D+ foot widths. Therefore, the rider will experience unsurpassed comfort while wearing the shoe.
This shoe has an offset opening design that reduces the presser applied over the top of your foot. The power zone system of this MTB shoe keeps your feet in place when you’re mountain riding or pounding over gravelly and root-lined sections of trail. Granite 2 MTB has Boa L4 one-way micro-adjustment fastening system to tighten the shoe down in small increments. This feature ensures you have the best possible fit and feel.
This shoe has a fiberglass Ergo Grip 2 sole for optimal power transfer and a grippy tread overlay for better traction. So your foot will get clipped back in no matter what’s the condition of the trail. This shoe is lightweight, and it’s a bargain in this price range.
- Designed for mountain biking
- X-Comfort Zone technology
- Ergo Grip 2 sole for pedaling efficiency
- Boa L4 micro-adjustment fastening system
- Lack of flexibilities
- No ankle protection
6. SHIMANO SH-ME7 Men’s Mountain Bike Shoe
SHIMANO SH-ME7 Men’s Mountain Bike Shoe is a top-end trail shoe, and it is very popular among the rider because of its speed lacing system. Instated of the traditional laces, this mountain bike shoe has a drawstring that snaps down and secures with a ratchet buckle. It has a large Velcro strap that covers the top of the drawstrings and provides extra protection from mud and dirt.
This MTB shoe is lightweight but durable. The toe and the heel of this shoe have reinforced armor for better protection against the rough condition. The ventilation system of this shoe is excellent, makes it a perfect mountain biking shoe for summer. It has a long cleat channel that ensures excellent paddling experience.
The soles of this shoe are very rigid, and the Torbal technology allows the back end of the shoe to bend a little. This bend design creates a positive engagement feel with the pedal and allows the rider to put more power down and have good control over the bike. SHIMANO SH-ME7 has a neoprene guard around the ankle that provides additional protection from the trail debris.
- Lightweight & durable
- Neoprene ankle guard
- Speed lacing system
- Great ventilation system
- Sole is not durable
- Less protection on sides
Types of Mountain Bike Shoes
There are different types of mountain bike shoes available. It is very important to know all the types, how they work, and what condition they are best for. MTB shoe variations depend on bike pedals, and they have an impact on the performance and user experience.
- Cross-Country Mountain Bike Shoes
These types of MTB shoes have a stiff sole to provide maximum power transfer, and they are lightweight. They lack foot protection and are less comfortable while walking. So this type of shoe performance in rough conditions will be minimal.
- Trail and All-Mountain Shoes
Trail and mountain biking requires a lot of climbing and descending. So this type of shoes designed to pedal well and work well off the bike. These types of shoes are also lightweight and ensure excellent power transfer, walkability, better traction, and enough foot protection.
- Enduro Mountain Bike Shoes
Enduro riding refers to fast-paced downhill riding and rider wear shoes that are lightweight and have better foot protection. These types of MTB shoes have more foot protection than the cross-country mountain bike shoes.
- Downhill Mountain Bike Shoes
These types of mountain bike shoes are designed to provide a solid pedaling platform and better foot protection. The walkability of Downhill Mountain Bike Shoes is excellent. They work best in bikes that have a large paddling platform. These types of shoes weigh more compared to other mountain bike shoes.
How to Choose the Best Mountain Bike Shoes
All the mountain bike shoes on our list are worth the value, but you have to remember that there are considerable variations among MTB shoes, and they work differently in different situations. So not every shoe will fulfill your requirements and worth the money. There are a few very important factors that you have to consider before buying the best mountain shoe.
The first thing you should consider while buying an MTB shoe is whether you are going to use flat-pedals or clipless pedals. If you are new to this sport, then flat-pedals will be the right choice for you. This type of pedal has a unique design. There are series of pins on a large platform that increase traction with your shoe and pedals. Normally any kind of shoe will work with these pedals.
Though it says clipless pedals, these types of pedals do have clips that cleat on your shoes. The best things about clipless pedals are you know that your shoe is in the perfect place of riding the mountain bike. Cleats are located right under the ball of your shoes, which allows the most efficient energy transfer while riding.
Most of the rider prefers clipless shoes, but flat-pedal shoes have some pluses if you are a beginner rider and do certain types of riding. Flat-pedal shoes allow the beginner rider to learn some basic techniques before he attaches himself to the bike. This way the rider can easily detach himself from the bike if he falls.
Usually, flat-pedal shoes are made of gluey rubber outsole that ensures excellent grip and stability with the pedals. Moreover, the rubber sole also increases the traction between the shoe and pedals. This type of shoe provides better protection to the sides and bottoms of your feet. So they are best for rough situations like trails, downhill, etc.
Clipless shoes connect the shoe to the pedal with a cleat; therefore, this type of shoe is preferred by the experienced riders. Clipless shoes allow the rider to have excellent control over the speed and balance. Because the shoe is connected with the pedals, the rider will get more power out of every pedal stroke.
Normally, the soles on clipless shoes are much stiffer compared to other MTB shoes. So you may find it difficult to use this shoe for another purpose besides riding. This is also a good sign because you only get to use this shoe while riding, makes the shoe last longer.
Comfort & Fit
Mountain biking largely depends on effort coming through your feet. Therefore, it is very important to make sure the shoe you are wearing is comfortable so that you can give your hundred percent. While checking the comfort of the shoe, not just check the fit also checks the breathability and cushioning. Check the insole very carefully as it is very important when it comes to finding a comfortable shoe. Cushioning absorbs the bumps and gives you an excellent riding experience through rough trails.
As a mountain rider, if you can pick a shoe according to the weather then you can easily ride through the trail without falling or getting off your bike. For flat-pedal shoes the weatherproof is important. If you can’t have proper traction with your pedal and shoes then a light rain can cause major slipping, and you can get yourself hurt. If you leave in a place where it rains a lot then a waterproof shoe would be a great idea. Pick a waterproof shoe that has a breathing membrane for ventilation.
Generally, mountain biking happens during the warm weather, so the shoe company emphasizes more on the ventilation. In warm weather, feet become sweaty, and the shoe becomes heavy resulting uncomfortable ride. Pick a shoe that is lightweight and has great ventilation system for keeping your feet cool while riding.
For the winter season, ventilation may result in cold feet, so you should choose shoes that block wind, moisture, and even have insulation. There are some winter-specific shoes available for both flat-pedals and clipless. So if you are planning to do a lot of riding in the winter season then you must pick a shoe that is equipped to handle the cold.
The retention system has an impact on the shoe’s weight. There are different retention systems available for shoes like laced, lace flap, Velcro straps, ratchet buckle closure, Boa retention system, etc. Laced is a traditional retention system and it has some problems. You can’t easily adjust the laces, and they can easily get clogged up with mud. Lace flap is the solution to this problem. Lace flap covers the laces and protects them from mud and debris.
Some shoes use Velcro straps or ratchet buckle closure. But this type of retention system increases the weight of the shoes. So, experienced rider avoids shoes that have this type of retention system. The Boa retention system is the best option available in the market. This type of retention system makes the shoe lightweight, and if anything happens, you can easily change them.
FAQs about Mountain Bike Shoes
Are mountain biking shoes necessary?
Mountain biking is different from regular biking. You need a special skillset and gears for mountain biking. Mountain biking requires strength, power, better traction between shoes and pedals. MTB shoes are specially designed for mountain biking, and they provide comfort and enough traction between pedals and shoes. So if you want a safe and enjoyable mountain biking experience, then mountain biking shoe is really necessary.
Should I use clipless pedals on a mountain bike?
If you are a beginner mountain rider, then flat-pedal is ideal for you. Experienced mountain rider uses clipless pedals. Flat-pedals help rider develops their technical abilities.
What are mountain biking shoes?
Mountain bike shoes are specifically designed for mountain biking. They are durable, lightweight, comfortable, weatherproof, and have excellent built quality.
Can you use mountain bike shoes for spinning?
Not every mountain bike shoe will support spinning, but there are few MTB shoe models available in the market that you can use for spinning.
Can I use MTB shoes on a road bike?
You can’t use road shoes for mountain biking, but you can use MTB shoes for road biking. Though, MTB shoes are made for mountain biking; so it is not wiser to use them for road cycling.
The mountain bike shoe that will suit you depends on your riding style, skill, type of trails, weather, pedals type, etc. If you know what type of trails you will be riding, what style you will ride, and what will be the weather for most of the ride, then you can make an informed choice and pick the best mountain bike shoe for mountain riding. The mountain bike shoes we have mentioned here will help you achieve a great mountain biking experience. Just make sure you consider all your requirements and circumstance so that you end up buying the best mountain bike shoe.