Review collections can provide a quick way to learn about gear when you’re on the hunt. Below are seven of the flat pedal mountain bike shoes I recently rode in, and hopefully one of them fits your foot and riding style.
The key elements I look for in a flat pedal mountain bike shoe are sole grip and stiffness, fit, protection, and trail traction. And, it doesn’t hurt if they look sweet. Maybe that final factor should come first?
For fit and grip reference, all of the flat shoes I tested are an EU size 43, and the classic Five Ten Stealth rubber sole is our benchmark for maximum pedal-grip factor.
|MSRP||Weight (per shoe)||Grip-o-meter|
|Etnies Jameson Mid Crank||$83||415g||7|
|Etnies Screw Vulc Mid x Rad||$75||433g|
|Ride Concepts Hellion Elite||$150||407g||9|
|Ride Concepts Tallac||$160||441g||9|
Crankbrothers Stamp Flat MTB Shoes
Crankbrothers Stamp flat pedal mountain bike shoes came out in early 2020, completing the brand’s foot connectivity with their renowned pedals. The upper uses hidden eyelets to keep the laces from rubbing against things, and the bowtie up top fits nicely into a garage on the tongue. The shoe’s body employs welded seams where it counts, which should make for long life.
The gum soles are just that gummy. They grip the pedal pins with aplomb, earning an 8.5 of 10 kitten claw points on the pedal grip-0-meter. All that pin traction is backed by a relatively stiff sole that’s just flexible enough to hike in. The tread in these shoes isn’t the greatest for winter hike-a-bike bouts, with a flatter surface crossed by shallow reliefs. If you regularly need to walk on the trail there are better-suited shoes for that slope.
While they look casual the Stamp offer around the third-best protection in this collection. The toebox and heel are backed by hard material to deflect detritus, while the midfoot has thinner panels to allow for some airflow. Overall these shoes breathe and dry better than expected, given their protective layers.
I found the Stamp fit spot on, with a little extra space in the toe box for wider feet and some air circulation to tamp the stank down. The heel holds tightly while walking and pedaling, and I didn’t have any issues with the laces coming loose or needing mid-ride adjustments.
Endura Hummvee Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes
The Endura Hummvee is one of a few new foot holsters in the Scottish brand’s apparel lineup, with a decidedly similar fit and feel to the Crankbrothers shoes outlined above. The uppers material is fairly tough, there’s an elastic band to collect the bowtie, and they come with two different lace colors so you always have a backup.
These flat pedal mountain bike shoes too are not so grippy to hike in, which I found surprising for a brand from Scotland. Maybe these are Scottish summertime soles? On the pedal the Hummvee sole feels far better, scoring a solid 8.5 on the pedal grip-0-meter. There’s just as much flex in the sole as the Stamp shoes, and neither pair lets me feel the pedal more than I want to. Pedal feel is there, and I can tell where my foot is at on the platform, but that’s it. No pain or hot spots to speak of.
Toe and heel protection for the Hummvee is moderate, with a low toebox stiffener and some padding around the heel. The upper is perforated, and these breathe and dry out rather quickly.
My usual size 43 fit a little snug in the Hummvee, from the toe all the way back. I like a tighter shoe and was stoked with this cut, but if you prefer some room you may want to try these on before purchasing.
Endura MT500 Burner Flat Shoes
Turning all of the durability notches up a tick or three, the Endura MT500 Burner is more of a flat-pedal gravity racing shoe. The uppers are tough all around, with a velcro strap for fast adjustments and better protection for those 26 little bones than any other shoe shown here.
Pedal grip in the MT500 flat is about the same as their other model, but the walking traction is far superior. The only other flat pedal mountain bike shoe I tested that comes close is the Tallac in terms of soil traction. The sole is also far stiffer than the two models above, ready for harder and higher impacts without any shock to your precious feet. The sole stiffness is well balanced to allow for a nice pedaling platform that you can still walk uphill in without pulling your heel free from the shoe.
These shoes are wrapped in protection all around, and they’re the only pair here that includes some squish between the frame and your inner ankle bone. You’ll never know why that extra flap of padding comes so high up until you try shoes without it and bang that bone against a crank arm. The toebox and heel are also well fortified and ready to take on impacts.
The fit on this pair from Endura is slightly roomier, with space for a second pair of socks if they’re tied a tad looser. Much of the MT500 line is designed around cooler weather riding, and these shoes will keep your feet a little warmer than others. They dry quickly too, ready for the next round.
Etnies Jameson Mid Crank Flat Pedal Shoes
Etnies Jameson Mid Crank is the first flat pedal mountain bike shoe I’ve seen from this legendary skateboard brand. With no stitching across the toe, the fabric feels ready to hold up through a few seasons. Designed by Brandon Semenuk, I had high expectations for this pair.
If the trusty ol’ Five Ten sole grips like a week-old kitten’s claws, the sole on these Jameson shoes is closer to a cat who’s roommates clipped its claws just enough so it couldn’t ruin the drapes. We would put these at about a 7 on the grip-0-meter, which is exactly what some freeride folks and DJ enthusiasts want to allow for food movement in the air. The waffle pattern is great for walking up a dry jump line, and it’s owl-snot slick in a damp forest. Sole stiffness on the Jameson is similar to most skate shoes, allowing you to feel the pedal without all of the impact being translated directly to your foot.
Thicker insoles add a bit of protection to these soles, and the slightly taller cuff does help a bit with frame strikes. The shoe’s heel is well reinforced, and the toe is stiffer than a standard skate option.
The fit inside the Jameson is roomy and comfortable. The uppers breathe decently, though the shoes did take a bit to dry out. I had trouble with my heel pulling out of the back while hiking upslope, despite the taller upper profile. That won’t matter much if you’re hitting jumps in these shoes as intended.
Etnies Screw Vulc Mid x Rad High Top MTB Shoes
Have you seen RAD? If not, please crack that link open for a fun trip to 1986 once you’re done here. Etnies Screw Vulc Mid x Rad pulls the essence of Helltrack into a modern riding shoe that looks decidedly sexy. It’s very similar to the Etnies offering above, with an aesthetic that a child of the 80s might fall for.
This RAD shoe has all the same pedal and trail gripping qualities of the Jameson above. There is far more stitching across the toe, and those threads feel solid enough to stick around a good while. The toe also feels slightly less firm on this pair, which may be preferable for some riders. You won’t want to tighten the laces too much, as the upper cuff can cause chafing as your heel moves to and fro.
Etnies has only recently leaped into the MTB game, and we will likely see a wider variety of models from them in the future.
- Price: $75
- Weight: 433g each
- Available at Performance Bike
Ride Concepts Hellion Elite Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes
Ride Concepts Hellion Elite is a fully new design for the flat-pedal-first brand. The welded upper is built with clean and durable looking lines and padding everywhere you want it. There’s a lace keeper in the tongue to keep your drivetrain happy.
Sole grip with this shoe is quite good, scoring somewhere around a 9, though that number goes down considerably when we look at trail grip. On dirt, these are about as effective as a pair of Five Ten shoes. There’s more flex in the sole than with the MT500 above, allowing for additional pedal feel.
While you can feel the pedal in these shoes you won’t be caught complaining about sore feet. A D3O insole keeps the bottom of your body-platform safe from stones, and both the heel and toe box offer ample stiffness for deflection.
Spot on fit feels great with these shoes, and they are some of my favorites in the roundup to wear on daily outings. The heat factor isn’t bad, though they aren’t the windiest shoes I’ve tried, and they do dry relative rapidly.
Ride Concepts Tallac Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes
The new Ride Concepts Tallac flat pedal mountain bike shoes aren’t your grandpa’s hiking kicks, but they look pretty similar. They look holiday-themed to me, and I would happily opt for any of the other colors on offer.
Apart from the aesthetic, sole grip, stiffness, and walkability are all pretty dialed on the Tallac kicks. They score somewhere around a 9 on the grip-o-meter, and the stiff soles don’t detract from their tenacity on the pedal pins. You won’t feel the pedal as much through these, which means you also don’t feel impacts as much. Hefty toe and heel lugs make these the best hiking shoes in test by a long shot, and the tread clears mud well for winter riding.
Apart from lacking ankle protection, which you’ll find on other RC models, the Tallac is well armored. The toe and heel are fortified high into the shoe’s upper, and the D3O sole is a foot saver for sure. Also, there are no real seams in the upper to catch on things and wear thin.
A pair of Tallac flat MTB shoes fits similarly to the Hellion Elite, with a nice cozy wrap around your foot that feels good on long pedals. These shoes are definitely not designed for your hottest rides, as all that protection comes at the cost of ventilation. I’d say that for rides over 24°C (75° F) a lighter pair might be a better choice. These also don’t take too long to dry out in the sun.