The 8 Best Mountain Bike Shoes for Pedaling Rough Terrain

Are you looking to take your mountain biking to the next level? We’ve compiled a list of the best mountain bike shoes on the market today to help you take the next step.

There can be a temptation to avoid spending considerable sums when taking up a potentially expensive hobby like mountain biking.

However, even with one of the best mountain bikes around, you will struggle to improve as a mountain biker without proper shoes. When you’re speeding through forests, down steep hills, and over ditches, you need to give yourself every advantage you can.

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

sand-mountain-bike

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There is certain information you need to have before you can effectively select the best mountain bike shoes for yourself.


ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES?

As with all products, there is a host of variations between makes and models of mountain bike shoes. Broadly, however, there are two main types.

These correspond to the types of pedals used; flat pedals go with flat-soled mountain bike shoes, while clipless pedals require bolt holes for the cleats to slide into. Therefore, the type of shoes you wear will be dictated by the kind of pedals you choose to use.

If you come to mountain biking having already used clipless pedals (as a road cyclist, for instance), you may find it easier to continue with them. However, if you have never used clipless pedals before, it is advisable to begin mountain biking with flat pedals.

As both types are popular, we have listed a few of the best mountain bike shoes from both categories.


IS THERE A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN’S AND WOMEN’S MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES?

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Men’s and women’s feet are, on average, somewhat different. Women's feet are usually shorter, which is why a woman’s shoe size will generally be lower than a man’s.

However, women’s feet are also narrower than men’s, which is why many manufacturers make shoes specifically for each gender.

However, that isn’t to say that men’s mountain bike shoes are off-limits to women. The differences in design are relatively slight, and many women report no issues with their mountain biking performance while wearing shoes designed for men.

Therefore, female mountain bikers should find the shoe that suits them the best and stick with it, regardless of the gender it’s marketed to.

HOW TO DECIDE WHICH ARE THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES FOR YOU

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As outlined above, your first choice when deciding on the best mountain bike shoes for you will be between flat and clipless pedals. Once you have made that decision, however, there will still be more to consider. There are many different makes and models, each with their own attributes.

All the best mountain bike shoes vary to some degree in terms of sole stiffness, for example. The best level of stiffness for you will depend on the trails you typically ride, as well as personal preference. Other variables include ease of cleat engagement and the balance between security and comfort.

HOW WE REVIEWED

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As is the case with all consumer goods nowadays, there is a huge amount of choice when it comes to mountain bike shoes. While that is good for a savvy consumer, it can be overwhelming for someone new to the world of mountain biking.

To give you a hand, we’ve sorted through all the subpar offerings to bring you a list of the best mountain bike shoes around. We examined the stock of all major manufacturers and assessed it against our criteria, including durability, style, features, functionality, and price.

The resulting list is quite diverse, so there should be something suited to riders of all kinds, from complete beginners to hardened trail addicts!

THE 8 MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES

Here is our list of the best mountain bike shoes available for purchase today. We hope you see something you like!


1. TOMMASO MONTAGNA 100

Tommaso Montagna 100 Men's Mountain Bike MTB Spin Cycling...
  • SPECIAL HOLIDAY PRICING:...
  • INCREASE POWER: Get the most...
  • COMFORTABLE: Durable synthetic...
  • VERSATILE: The Montagna 100...
  • QUALITY & PRECISION FIT: 100%...

The first entry on this list is a reliable option for beginners and experienced mountain bikers alike. It is a versatile alternative to shoes with more specific designs. Therefore, it would be perfect for someone looking for a shoe that would also work for a different type of cycling, such as spinning or road cycling.

The design of the Tommaso Montagna 100 prioritizes comfort, with mesh panels built in to keep your feet cool during long rides. The fiberglass sole is designed in a way that maximizes power transfer, giving the rider the best possible return for the energy they expend.

The manufacturers offer a two-year warranty, giving customers another reason to believe in the quality of this shoe.


Where to buy

2. FIVE TEN FREERIDER PRO

Five Ten Freerider Pro Mens Mountain Bike Shoes, (Night...
  • Full S1 dotty outsole
  • Synthetic and lightweight...
  • Impact resistant toe box
  • Compression molded EVA midsole
  • Removable Ortholite sock liner

When searching for the best mountain bike shoes, Five Ten is a brand name you will encounter quite a lot. Their various shoe models pop up everywhere, and they are especially prolific when it comes to flat mountain bike shoes.

The first Five Ten offering on this list is also our first flat shoe. For those of you looking for something to go with flat pedals, this is an excellent place to start.

The Five Ten Freerider Pro has a slick urban design and comes in six different color schemes. Unlike many mountain bike shoes, these have the style of everyday runners, which will be a factor for more fashion-conscious mountain bikers.

As well as looking good, these shoes offer serious performance. Their fully synthetic upper body is lightweight, but also durable, and the toe box is designed to withstand heavier impacts. These features combine to make this one of the best mountain bike shoes around.


Where to buy

3. ZOL PREDATOR

Zol Predator MTB Mountain Bike and Indoor Cycling Shoes 43
  • 2 Bolt cleat compatibility for...
  • 3 Carbon Fiber designed Velcro...
  • No stitching mesh leather...
  • Double injection...
  • Weight in 42cm is 346 grams

The ZOL Predator is another mountain bike shoe that has versatility as a selling point. As well as off-road cycling, these shoes are suitable for indoor cycling and offer compatibility with most clipless pedal types.

Their design is sturdy but lightweight, offering protection from the elements as well as high performance. The sole is a rigid one, so riders with a preference for such a shoe structure may favor this option over others.

One drawback here is the lack of choice when it comes to style. There are just two options (red and black or silver and black), and even these do not differ hugely from one another. That may be of little significance to the cycling purists among you, but it’s still worth mentioning.

These are more affordably priced than other shoes. Considering the high performance they offer, they are among the best mountain bike shoes for cyclists trying clipless pedals for the first time.

Where to buy

4. ETNIES JAMESON MID CRANK BRANDON SEMENUK MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES

Etnies Men's Jameson MID Crank Skate Shoe, Burgundy/Gum, 8.5...
  • Designed by Brandon Semenuk
  • Stable board midsole for...
  • Asymmetrical collar for ankle...
  • TPU underlay for reinforced...
  • Grippy Geo-Hex tread pattern

Having long been a fixture in the skate scene, Etnies have thrown their hat at the world of mountain biking with the Brandon Semenuk Mountain Bike Shoes. These maintain Etnies’ classic chunky style while bringing functionality to the table as well.

Designed by Brandon Semenuk (if you haven’t heard of him, check out this video), these shoes carry definite signs of expert craftsmanship.

The middle region offers ample stability, and there is also an asymmetrical collar for ankle protection. They offer a balance between stiffness and flex in the sole, which may favor neutral riders.

This option comes in a wide range of sizes and can be worn by mountain bikers of either gender. Its price is lower than what might you might normally expect of a quality mountain biking shoe, so it should be given serious consideration by newcomers to the sport.


Where to buy

5. GIRO CYLINDER CYCLING SHOES

Giro Cylinder Cycling Shoes - Men's Black 45
  • Upper Material: [body]...
  • Closure: boa, hook and loop...
  • Footbed: die-cut
  • Sole: co-molded nylon and...
  • Cleat Compatibility: 2-bolt...

Giro’s Cylinder model is a tried and tested stalwart of the mountain bike shoe market. Like other clipless options, it has the versatility to work as a road cycling shoe as well.

Its premium design features a synthetic upper body and die-cut insoles. Its toe and heel are both reinforced with microfibers.

This shoe is a premium option that consistently receives positive feedback from cyclists, and should always be taken into consideration by serious mountain bikers with a preference for clipless pedals.

The Cylinder comes in three color schemes. Buyers can choose between a fully black motif or a black body with either light blue or dark red on the strap. The light blue strap is particularly striking, but all three are easy on the eyes.


Where to buy

6. FIVE TEN IMPACT SAM HILL MEN’S MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOE

Five Ten Impact Sam Hill Mens Mountain Bike Shoes, (Black,...
  • Biking shoes built for...
  • Regular fit
  • Lace closure
  • Fast-drying synthetic upper
  • Textile lining; Stealth S1...

This shoe is another option from flat-sole specialists Five Ten. It is a thicker, stronger shoe than the Freerider Pro discussed above. It prioritizes stability and security, and it offers a grip that is stickier than most flat-soled mountain bike shoes.

There is, unfortunately, a trade-off for the extra security of this shoe, and that is its aesthetic. While many might not be concerned by that, the shoe is much less appealing to look at than others on this list, its chunky sole letting it down in the beauty department.

There are different color schemes, but none that can do enough to escape the clunkiness of the frame.

That minor quibble aside, it remains one of the best mountain bike shoes around. The Five Ten design is as impeccable as always when it comes to performance, making this a strong contender for anyone in the market for flat-soled mountain bike shoes.


Where to buy

7. FIVE TEN WOMEN’S FREERIDER CONTACT BIKE SHOE

This offering from Five Ten is for female mountain bikers. Its frame is noticeably narrower than the two other Five Ten models listed here. However, the range of sizes is similar to that of other options on this list, so this shoe is not necessarily only suitable for women.

These shoes are made from synthetic textiles and feature a removable insole. The grip of the soles is considerable, even with flat pedals, and offers beginners a degree of security that other shoes do not.

In terms of style, these shoes are somewhat neater than other mountain bike shoes. There are three color schemes to pick from, though these vary only slightly.


Where to buy

8. SHIMANO SH-XC5 MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES

SHIMANO SH-XC5 Mountain Bike Shoe - Women's Grey/Magenta; 42
  • Lightweight and rigid carbon...
  • Supple synthetic leather with...
  • Exclusive michelin...
  • Rubber anti-slip arch outsole...
  • Reinforced spike mount for...

Shimano is a giant when it comes to cycling apparatus. With the SH-XC5, they’ve stated their claim as the manufacturers of one of the best mountain bike shoes around.

These clipless shoes boast many important features. The midsole is reinforced with carbon fiber, allowing for rigidity despite the shoe’s light weight. The synthetic leather that makes up the upper body is perforated for temperature regulation, as well as fit.

As well as this, these shoes feature a miniature power strap that offers added security and a non-slip outsole pattern.

Their appearance is no less impressive than their performance. The SH-XC5 comes in three color schemes, including an especially striking grey and orange.


Where to buy

THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES FOR RIDERS OLD AND NEW

As you can see, there is little difficulty in trying to find quality mountain bike shoes in today’s market. The biggest challenge will be narrowing your selection down to just one pair.

The most important consideration is your own preference (and your own feet). The best mountain bike shoes are the ones in which you perform the best, and that may not necessarily be the pair that will have the best results for someone else. The best strategy when picking mountain bike shoes is to find a style you like and stick to it.

Have we left out your favorite mountain bike shoes? Get in contact and tell us what we’re missing!


Featured image by: Amazon

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