If you are interested in the sport of mountain biking, you may not realize that riding on the demanding trails of the wild outdoors can be a whole new level of exercise. In order to properly ride your mountain bike and avoid serious accidents far away from medical help, the shoes you wear are very important. You need shoes that grip the pedals consistently, but can also be used for hiking if you have to carry your bike at any time. The most important aspects of a great mountain bike shoe are:
- Excellent traction and grip
- Comfortable cushioning for the feet
- Good ankle support
Those three factors combined make up the best mountain bike shoes on the market. Here’s a comparison of the best mountain bike shoes on the market, and a quick guide on how to shop for the best shoe for the job.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best MTB Shoes of 2018 Reviewed
- 2 Best Mountain Biking Shoes Reviewed
- 3 Shimano SH-ME7 Multi-Condition Trail/Edurao SPD Cycling Shoes
- 4 Giro Terraduro MTB Shoes
- 5 Shimano SHXC7R Shoe Men’s
- 6 Five Ten Men’s Freerider MTB Bike Shoes
- 7 Shimano Xc31 Mountain Bike Shoe
- 8 Diamondback Men’s Trace Clipless Pedal Compatible Cycling Shoe
- 9 Five Ten Men’s Impact VXI Bike Shoe
- 10 Giro Jacket MTB Shoes
- 11 Five Ten Men’s Kestrel Cycling Shoe
- 12 Shimano SH-M200L Men’s Mountain Bike Shoe
- 13 Evaluating Mountain Bike Shoes
- 14 Types of Shoes for Mountain Biking
- 15 In Conclusion
The Best MTB Shoes of 2018 Reviewed
To help you find the perfect shoe for mountain biking, we put together this review of the top 10 shoes on the market today. Here’s a quick look at the main features of each shoe.
|Name||Avg. Star Rating||Price Range||Notable Feature|
|Shimano SH-ME7 Multi-Condition Trail/Edurao SPD Cycling Shoes||4||$150 - $400||Amazing traction|
|Giro Terraduro MTB Shoes||4||$100 - $350||Weather resistant|
|Shimano SHXC7R Shoe Men’s||4||$175 - $200||Comfort|
|Five Ten Men’s Freerider MTB Bike Shoes||4.5||$100 - $130||Incredible Grip|
|Shimano Xc31 Mountain Bike Shoe||5||$60 - $90||Affordable|
|Diamondback Men’s Trace Clipless Pedal Compatible Cycling Shoe||4||$70 - $85||Versatile and easy to use|
|Five Ten Men’s Impact VXI Bike Shoe||4.5||$150||Lightweight and comfortable|
|Giro Jacket MTB SHoes||4.5||$60 - $120||Versatile enough to wear casually|
|Five Ten Men’s Kestrel Cycling Shoe||4||$180||Warm and weatherproof|
|Shimano SH-M200L Men’s Mountain Bike Shoe||4.5||$90 - $150||Easy to use|
As you can see, many of the top mountain biking shoes on the market today come from the same select brands – Shimano, Five Ten, and Giro are some of the most trusted names in the industry. Let’s take a look at each of these shoes in depth.
Best Mountain Biking Shoes Reviewed
Shimano SH-ME7 Multi-Condition Trail/Edurao SPD Cycling Shoes
This is a top-of-the-line shoe that offers amazing traction and comfort for serious riders. It weighs just 455 grams, keeping your endurance at peak levels, and has a Michelin rubber outsole for great trip. The ankle is supported by a stretch collar made of weather-resistant neoprene, and it has a lace cover that keeps the laces hidden from the bike parts. It’s also made with vents to keep your feet cool when riding, and is one of the stiffest shoes made by Shimano so you can transfer plenty of power to the pedals without a lot of work.
There are two main downsides with this shoe and neither are deal breakers. The first is that the shoe can run slightly small, so you do need to try them on or order multiple sizes with the intent of returning the ones that don’t work. The second is that these shoes aren’t the best for cool-weather riding. They won’t provide you with much warmth. Beyond that, if you are in the market for a fantastic shoe that won’t let you down on trails, this is a great option.
Giro Terraduro MTB Shoes
Made with a Vibram sole and extremely durable materials, this is a fanatastic option for mountain bikers who want as much versatility out of their shoe as possible. It is a bit of a heavier shoe, but that fact makes this shoe perfect for everything from downhill riding to trail racing. It’s a solid, durable shoe that will protect your foot and keep it dry in all weather. This she weighs 458 grams, and has one of the best power transfers on the market.
Because it’s such a meaty shoe, it can be a bit of a hindrance if you are hiking through mud. However, it’s a good choice if you want the best balance between pedaling performance and hiking off the bike.
Shimano SHXC7R Shoe Men’s
If what you are after is the most comfortable Shimano you can find, the SH-XC7R is the best option on the market today. This is an extremely lightweight shoe, weighing only 315 grams, and has adaptable insoles with anit-slip arch support and perforated material to keep your foot cool and dry. The traction comes from Shimano’s Michelin rubber material, which is useful for muddy environments and offers a decent amount of flexibility.
The downside is that you won’t get as much power transfer, but this shoe is great for a serious hobbyist who just wants to enjoy their day on their bike and not have aching feet the next day.
Five Ten Men’s Freerider MTB Bike Shoes
Looking for a clipless shoe that gives you nearly the same grip as a clip-in system? The Five Ten Freerider has actually won awards for how grippy it is, and it maintains lightweight construction as well. However, it isn’t the most durable shoe on our list, which does make some riders prone to looking at Shimano instead. But if your top concern is just sticking to the pedals as much as possible, this is the shoe for you. It weighs around 418 grams, and is great as an all-around shoe if you prefer to try a little bit of everything.
This is a best seller, so you’re very likely to see it on many lists featuring the best mountain bike shoes – and for good reason. While there are competitor shoes out there now, this is still a great all-around choice. It breathes well, it keeps you on the pedals, and you can wear it for just about any activity you’ll be doing.
Shimano Xc31 Mountain Bike Shoe
This is a much heavier mountain bike shoe, weighing over 680 grams, but it ranks high in affordability. If you aren’t sure what type of shoe you want (clip-in, clipless, and so on), this is an excellent starter shoe.
Beyond affordability, this shoe is fairly comfortable. It has a padded ankle cuff for support, and Velcro straps to make it easy to adjust the comfort. Despite being heavier, it is still more lightweight than many other clipless shoes out there, especially when you consider that it features an extremely hard and heavy duty polyurethane outsole material to maintain grip. It does allow for a somewhat normal flex when walking, but it can be a bit slick on wet terrain.
This is an extremely durable shoe for the money. It resists abrasion well, and is best suited to cross-country riding where you expect to come into contact with all sorts of terrain and wear. As an entry-level shoe, this one is tough to beat, but it likely won’t be the holy grail shoe that you wear forever.
Diamondback Men’s Trace Clipless Pedal Compatible Cycling Shoe
Another slightly heavier shoe, the Diamondback Trace is a clipless shoe that can be used with clip-in pedals, with quite a lot going for it. It’s very durable and easy to use with just about any pedal you may have. But more than that, this is one of the more comfortable shoes on the market. It features a fiberglass-reinforced midsole made of nylon, which helps transfer energy very efficiently so you don’t get as worn out.
The shoe itself is made of breathable mesh and suede, with an outer rubber sole for extra grip, as well as reinforced heel and toe to keep it durable. Because it is compatible with clip-in pedals, but can also be used clipless, it makes a great shoe for someone that is into many types of biking sports, like mountain biking, touring, and indoor cycling as well.
Five Ten Men’s Impact VXI Bike Shoe
This shoe is Five Ten’s updated version of one of their classic shoes, with better rubber grips on the outsoles, less weight to carry on your feet, and a stiffer sole for more energy transfer. These weigh only 420 grams, and are not only great for all types of biking, but are also comfortable for hiking in all day when you are in extreme terrains. They work well in mud, on rocky areas, navigating wooded areas, and more. Additionally, the toe box is designed to protect your toe a bit more on this model, so if you want to try downhill mountain biking, you can.
Whether this shoe is right for you will come down to personal preference. Not everyone likes a stiff shoe because it causes an unnatural walking experience – although it does help to protect the foot from fatigue when biking. Not everyone likes their shoe to be as weighty, and would prefer to sacrifice the extra protection in favor of an ultra-lightweight model. However, if this shoe’s features fit your preferences, there’s not much to say in the way of cons. They aren’t the most well protected when it comes to keeping your foot dry, and that’s about the only drawback we can find.
Giro Jacket MTB Shoes
Looking for a shoe that you can wear from the trail to the barbeque and back again? The Giro Jacket is a stylish mountain biking shoe that works as a casual shoe, styled after skate shoes for a streamlined look. The shoe is made with a Vibram Megagrip sole, so you don’t lose any performance for the style. But for comfort and durability, this shoe can’t be beat. It is made of tough synthetic material that is made to fit your foot perfectly, and features plenty of padded support throughout the entire design. It is a good idea to try these one, or to buy a half size up if you aren’t sure of the fit, just because they are made to be snug.
They are water resistant, and they featuring a high-tech heel cushioning system that prevents you from feeling the shock of the trail. It’s a flexible shoe with a firmer outsole, so you still get a stiff ride to help transfer energy, but they aren’t as stiff as other models. Overall, this is a solid option for someone that is transitioning from wearing a standard skate shoe on their mountain bike, into the territory of true mountain biking shoes.
Five Ten Men’s Kestrel Cycling Shoe
Similar to another model we reviewed on this list, this is a cycling shoe that can be used clipless or with a clip-in system. It is a water-resistant shoe made with perforated synthetic material that keeps your feet cool while you ride. It also has a sock liner so you can skip a layer, and its design features anti-microbial material to cut back on smell. The shoe itself is pretty low-profile and sleep, though it’s not the lightest shoe we’ve reviewed.
Because these shoes are stiff and durable, they are great for mountain bikers that end up hiking in all sorts of terrain. They can definitely handle a beating, and keep your energy at peak performance by helping prevent foot fatigue. This shoe is especially good for mountain bikers in colder climates. The multiple layers do provide some warmth, and the fact that they keep out moisture and wind make it even better for keeping warm.
Shimano SH-M200L Men’s Mountain Bike Shoe
The last shoe on our list is another Shimano, which is another shoe that boasts versatility. However, the big draw for this model is how easy it is to clip in and out of a pedal. This is a somewhat heavier shoe, weighing over 700 grams, but here, Shimano has perfected its cleat layout. It has an expanded area for the cleat to be adjusted, so you can ride with the cleat as far back or as far forward as you prefer. It also has an asymmetrical design to allow for crank arms to clear easier. The shoe itself is made of materials that cushion the feet comfortably, as well as durable rubber for extra grip on the sole. This shoe is ideal for downhill racing, with tons of protection and extreme grip.
It also has mesh vents at the toe to keep the feet cool, and is a form-fitting shoe to give you great control during your ride. Overall, if you are a downhill rider, this is a fantastic shoe option. It is lighter weight than many other downhill shoe options, yet still has plenty of protection and great features.
Evaluating Mountain Bike Shoes
In order to find the right kind of mountain bike shoe for you, you should look for what works for your comfort, as well as the type of bike you have – primarily, the types of pedals you use.
The outsole material of your shoe is important, especially if you aren’t using clip-in pedals. If the shoe has a slick material like plastic for the outsole, it won’t offer great traction. Fiberglass or rubber are far better options for grip and durability.
Also consider whether the shoes have lugs to increase control with the pedal. This can be great for a dedicated mountain bike rider. However, these types of soles don’t lend themselves well to any other type of sport – they are specifically meant for using with mountain bike pedals.
Because this sport relies on your feet to do most of the work, comfort and cushioning is extremely important. An injured foot, or just a fatigued foot, can make the sport a lot less enjoyable. You want your shoes to be breathable, with good supportive cushioning, and to fit very well. The cushioning should be specifically in the arch and the heel to keep the feet from getting sore.
Another thing to consider is if the shoe will withstand the elements. Mountain biking takes you through all sorts of terrain, and often in all sorts of weather. The shoes should be waterproof or water resistant, and tough enough to handle plenty of wear and tear. Be careful with waterproof shoes – they tend to not be as breathable. Instead, look for breathable shoes that have leakage protection to stop water from getting inside, unless you know that you’ll be biking in rain or very muddy environments regularly.
Also consider how much weight the shoe adds to your foot. The heavier the shoe is, the more your muscles have to work to pedal the bike. It may seem negligible, but the extra effort can cause you tire out sooner. You do want to find a good balance between durable materials that offer good support and traction, with lightweight construction. This is why shoe designers now use a synthetic rubber rather than true rubber, because rubber is a heavier material.
Finally, check out the way the shoe closes. Short laces are okay, but straps are safer because you don’t have to worry about laces getting caught in any part of the bike.
Types of Shoes for Mountain Biking
Another important thing to know when shopping for the right mountain bike shoe is to consider the type of shoe. There are different types of shoe for different types of mountain biking, so be sure you know what type of riding you want to do.
First keep in mind that there are both clip-in and clipless shoes. Some mountain bikes have a clip-in mechanism to keep your feet on the pedals. Others do not. Choose the shoe that works for your bike. Within those two general types, there are many other sub-types of mountain biking shoe.
- Flat pedal shoes are made for flat pedals, which need a shoe that has a very rigid, sticky sole to keep the rider on the pedal. However, the downside with these shoes is that they don’t tend to offer a lot of cushioning and support inside the shoe, so you’ll need to buy inserts.
- Clipless pedal shoes are made for downhill and cross-country riding. These have a very stiff sole with little to no flexibility, and aren’t great for using in any other situation.
- Cross-country biking shoes are light and streamlined for those who want professional characteristics in their mountain bike shoes. Because this shoe is thinner and lighter, they aren’t super durable over time.
- Downhill biking shoes are heavy-duty biking shoes meant for rough and tumble riding. These are also called gravity shoes, and they are made to protect your feet with thick material that is close to a mountain biking version of armor. While they aren’t as efficient for riding, because you are riding downhill, this isn’t usually an issue. And they tend to be easier to walk in than clipless pedal shoes.
Keep in mind that mountain bike shoes should fit very precisely. You shouldn’t have wiggle room, nor should you feel like your feet are being pinched. The type of shoe you choose isn’t as important as the fit when it comes down to finding the perfect shoe.
These 10 mountain bike shoes are fantastic for many different reasons, but which works for you will be based on what you need from a shoe, and where you are in your mountain biking. Here’s a quick summary of which shoe works best for what type of rider:
- Shimano SH-ME7 Multi-Condition Trail/Edurao SPD Cycling Shoes: Best high end shoe
- Giro Terraduro MTB Shoes: Best balance between biking and off-bike performance
- Shimano SHXC7R Shoe Men’s: Best for hobbyists
- Five Ten Men’s Freerider MTB Bike Shoes: Best all-around lightweight shoe
- Shimano Xc31 Mountain Bike Shoe: Best shoe for affordability
- Diamondback Men’s Trace Clipless Pedal Compatible Cycling Shoe: Best shoe for versatility
- Five Ten Men’s Impact VXI Bike Shoe: Best all-around shoe
- Giro Jacket MTB Shoes: Best for someone who has been wearing skate shoes to ride in up till now
- Five Ten Men’s Kestrel Cycling Shoe: Best for cold weather riding
- Shimano SH-M200L Men’s Mountain Bike Shoe: Best for downhill riding
Remember, it’s always a good idea to try on a mountain biking shoe to ensure that the fit is right. The fit is the most important thing to keep your foot comfortable, to keep you safe, and to make your ride awesome.
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