Recommended Flat Pedal Shoes
Some people can get away with rocking a pair of Vans or hiking boots with their flat pedals, but if you’re ready to get a dedicated pair of mountain biking shoes, here are some solid choices.
Anything from Five Ten – $100-$160
Seriously. Five Ten is the undisputed king of flat pedal shoes. Their Stealth rubber is known the world over to provide glue trap-like traction when combined with an aggressively-pinned flat pedal. For general trail riding, check out their Freerider models. If you plan on hucking your meat, the burly Impact line is a better choice for increased shock absorption. Five Ten also makes shoes that can pass at the office while still being able to shred on the bike, like Danny Macaskill’s signature model.
Five Ten Men's Freerider Approach Shoes, Black/Khaki, 10 D US
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Giro Jacket Shoe – $120
The Giro Jacket was designed with input from Graham Agassiz–one of the raddest freeriders on the planet. They use a Vibram sole and have increased padding for hard landings. And, they come in sweet color combinations.
Shimano AM7 MTB Shoe – $130
Shimano’s AM7 mountain bike shoes offer increased ankle protection and a sole from Vibram. Laces are kept out of danger by a cover, and a velcro strap allows you to fine tune the fit.
Shimano SH-AM7 Mountain Bike Shoes - Men's Black, 44.0
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Specialized 2FO Flat Shoes – $130
Specialized’s 2FO flat pedal shoes use their Body Geometry ergonomic design, a cushioned EVA foam midsole, and feature a protective rubber toe cap.
Recommended Clipless Pedal Shoes
If and when you’re ready to clip in, there are seemingly endless brands and styles to choose from. First, be honest with yourself about the kind of riding you’re going to do. Unless you plan on racing–or just have cash burning a hole in your pocket–there’s no need to buy a top-of-the-line, carbon-soled race shoe. Above all else, you want your shoes to be as comfortable as possible for their intended purpose. Once you decide on a budget, try on as many shoes as possible in your price range.
Scott MTB Comp Shoes – $100
As Greg found in his review, the Scott MTB Comp shoes pack in a lot of value for a modest price. The fiberglass reinforced nylon sole provides adequate stiffness, and three velcro straps allow you to tailor the fit.
The Bontrager RL was one of the most popular shoes among our readers, but it has been discontinued. In its place is the Katan, which offers moderate stiffness while still being flexible enough for hike-a-bikes. It’s also one of the least expensive models to use a Boa dial closure.
Shimano SH-ME5 Cycling Shoe – $150
Shimano cycling shoes are a personal favorite of mine. They offer great performance and durability for the money. The unsexily-named SH-ME5 is their latest trail shoe. It features a stiff sole for good power transfer, ankle protection, and grippy rubber lugs.
Shimano Unisex SH-ME5 Black Sneaker 45 (US Men's 10.5) Medium
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Five Ten Kestrel Boa Clipless MTB Shoe – $150-$180
Five Ten also happens to make great clipless pedal shoes, too. The Kestrel has a stiff sole, but it’s coated in their sticky Stealth Rubber. Five Ten offers the Kestrel in lace-up or Boa versions.
Northwave Enduro Mid Shoe – $175
Northwave is an Italian company–as such, their shoes tend to be on the flashier side. The Enduro Mid uses Michelin rubber on the sole and their own version of a Boa-style closure. Color options include blue with neon green and camo.
Pearl Izumi designed the X-Project shoes to be extremely stiff while pedaling, but flex when you’re off the bike so you can walk naturally. They use a Boa closure which they positioned on the top of the foot, out of harm’s way.
Pearl Izumi X-Project 3.0 Shoes
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The Giro Codes toe the line between a premium XC race shoe and an enduro mountain bike shoe. So basically, they’re a good choice for most riders. The Codes feature a carbon sole, Vibram lugs, and adjustable arch support.
Sidi Dominator MTB Shoe – $250
Be careful trying on a pair of Sidis if they’re out of your price range–they are supremely comfortable. Another big plus with Sidi’s mountain bike shoes is that you can replace many of their components, including straps, buckles, and in some cases, the sole.
Specialized S-Works XC Shoe – $400
For the “budget be damned” set, Specialized claims to have constructed the “lightest, most connected XC race shoes in the world.” It doesn’t appear they have a Bluetooth antenna, so we’re not sure about the connected part, but at just 540g for a pair of size 42s, their first claim seems reasonable.
Recommended Winter Shoes
Riding in the winter can be a pleasurable experience as long as you have the right equipment. Without it though, it can be uncomfortable–or even dangerous. On one of my most miserable rides, I sustained nerve damage that left my toes tingling for months. It was during a snowy ride in Georgia (yes, it sometimes snows here) where I tried to get away with using covers over my shoes.
If you must get your riding fix in during the winter, it may be worth purchasing a pair of shoes dedicated to the purpose. Consider getting a half-size larger than your summer shoes to allow room for thick socks and space to wiggle your toes. As always, though, try before you buy.
Hiking Boots – Free if you own a pair
Grab your old hiking boots, a pair of wool socks, throw some flat pedals on, and hit the trails! If you’re just goofing around in the woods, this setup should work fine.
Shoe Covers – $25-$100+
In places with mild winters, you may be able to use a pair of shoe covers. They come in a wide variety of styles from numerous manufacturers. The most basic covers will help block wind and moisture. More expensive versions add insulation. They are, however, an imperfect solution. Heat from your foot will still be lost through the cleat. Also, they tend to be delicate – hike-a-bikes can quickly destroy the bottom of the covers.
Endura MT500 II Overshoe
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45NRTH Winter Boots – $225-$385
45NRTH has built their entire company around keeping riders warm in the winter. They have three winter shoes in their line: the Japanther, the Wölvhammer, and the Wølfgar. I tested the Japanthers last year and found them to be perfect for winter in the Southeast. 45NRTH rates the Wölvhammers down to 0º F, and the Wølfgars down to an absolutely frigid -25º F!
Shimano’s winter-specific shoes are insulated and use Gore-Tex to keep moisture out while retaining breathability. The neoprene ankle strap prevents water or snow from coming over the top.
Shimano SH-MW7 Mountainbike shoe black 2016 Mountain Bike Cycle Shoes, Black (Black), 41 EU
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Northwave actually has a few different winter shoes in their line, but the Extreme Winter GTX is the warmest–and most expensive–of the bunch. They feature a high top design to keep snow and water out, use a Gore-Tex membrane, and use a cable and dial closure system.
Women’s Mountain Bike Shoes
There’s just as diverse a variety of mountain bike shoes for women, too. Again, comfort and fit are key, but it doesn’t hurt to have some style on the trail.
Five Ten Women’s Mountain Bike Shoes – $100 – $150
The popular Freerider and Kestrel flat shoes from Five Ten also come in women’s versions. You’ll find a variety of color options in a shoe that you could wear all day–on the bike and walking around the trail or town, Five Tens are highly versatile.
The X-Alp shoe is designed to fit and feel like a comfortable pair of running shoes, but you get the added benefit of SPD-compatibility so you can get the most out of your pedal strokes.
Shimano SH-WM64 Women’s Mountain Bike Shoe – $120
Shimano SH-WM64 Mountain Bike Shoes - Women's Black, 41.0
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These SPD-compatible shoes from Shimano have a women’s-specific fit. Made with synthetic leather and an aggressive rubber outsole, the SH-WM64 provide durability for trail riding.
This all-mountain women’s shoe by Scott offers an adjustable ErgoLogic removable insole and Boa IP-1 closure system to enhance fit and comfort. The contrasting colors on the Elite Boa are bold but minimal, like the tread pattern on the sole.
Sidi Buvel Women’s MTB Shoe – $200
The Sidi Buvel may cost a pretty penny, but you’re paying for fit and performance. The women’s-specific fit is narrower than the men’s, with a reinforced heel cup. The caliper buckle system and sturdy Competition sole are classic Sidi technology.
Sidi Buvel Women's MTB Shoes Fuchsia/White Size 39
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Article last updated by Aaron Chamberlain and Leah Barber on February 7, 2017 at 8:00am MST.