Are you looking for the best mountain bike shoes? Then you are the right place.
We have after extensive research selected the best shoes you can get as of 2019 for mountain biking:
No matter if you are looking for a flat mountain bike shoe to get started or a top-of-the-line MTB shoe to clip in, we got you covered.
This guide will also show you what shoes to get depending on your riding style and some key features to look out for.
Before we show you exactly how to pick the perfect pair, let’s have a look at the best MTB shoes of 2019:
How to Choose the Perfect MTB Shoes
Choosing a mountain bike shoe is not an easy task. There are lots of things to decide:
- Do you want a flat or clipless shoe?
- What material should you have in your sole and insulation?
- How well should it protect from the weather?
- What insulation should you get?
- What stiffness should you get?
- Will it be good for the type of mountain biking you enjoy?
All these questions can easily overwhelm you when getting your first pair of MTB shoes. This guide aims to help you answer any questions you might have and help you choose the perfect mountain bike shoes for your needs.
What Type of Tmtb shoe fits Your Riding Style?
The first thing to consider before you buy a mountain bike shoe is to consider how you enjoy riding your mountain bike. Depending on your riding style, the type of shoes to get will differ greatly.
Trail / All-mountain
Most mountain bikers will fall in this category. Unless you’re a hardcore downhill or cross country rider a pair of mtb shoes in this group will suit your style. Mountain bike shoes for trail or all-mountain riders have some major differences from your ordinary shoes:
- They tend to be stiffer than your ordinary walking shoes
- They have added padding for added comfort and protection
- They have a more flexible outsole that can compensate for jumps and the gnarlier terrain
Many trail mountain biking shoes also have a softer sole. This is for added grip so the pins can grab into the sole. Most of the all-mountain shoes have a low profile, but a mid-ankle style can often be a good option to protect your ankles when riding in tougher terrain.
In this category, there are both flat and clipless shoes. Which one is right for you? We’ll cover that in just a bit.
Mountain bike shoes best suited for cross country are quite similar to the kind of shoes you see road bikers use. These kinds of shoes focus on keeping down the weight and provide excellent breathability and comfort. As a cross country rider, you’ll want a light shoe that can handle long, intense bike rides.
Cross country mountain bike shoes have a heavier outsole than ordinary road bike shoes. Since these shoes focus on having low weight, they won’t have as much protection as other mountain bike shoes.
Downhill / Enduro
If you’re a downhill or enduro rider, you need a MTB shoe with a focus on control and protection. The soles of shoes in this category are usually really stiff to absorb the impact from big jumps or gnarly terrain. These kind of shoes with added protection in the toe area and on the top of the heel are usually heavier and tend to lack in comfort and breathability.
Flat vs. Clipless MTB shoe
When choosing mountain bike shoes, you’ll have to decide between flat or clipless shoes. Flat shoes are almost like skate shoes with a flat sole with plenty of grip. Clipless shoes are shoes you can attach to the pedals.
So, which one should you choose?
To find out, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvanages of flat and clipless shoes:
|Often looks cooler|
|Easier to jump off if something goes wrong|
|Feet can slip off the pedals|
|Have to adjust foot position from time to time|
|Sub-par pedaling efficency|
Beginners should generally start with a good pair of flat mountain shoes for added confidence and a more affordable price. Once you know the basics consider clipless shoes for added control and better pedaling efficency
|More connected and in better control of the bike|
|Better pedalling efficency|
|Never worry about foot slipping|
|Often more expensive|
|Can take some time to get used to|
|Crashes when the feet stays clipped in and the bike stays and drags with you|
After having a look at these charts, you should have a good idea of what type of shoes you should go for.
Things to look out for:
No matter if you decide to go for a flat or clipless sole, there are some things to consider.
The first thing to look out for is how stiff and flexible the sole is. Stiffer soles allow for more power to be transferred to the pedals, perfect for when going uphill. The drawback of stiffer soles is that they tend to transfer more vibrations from the terrain to your feet. Another disadvantage of stiff soles is that any issues with fit will be much more evident.
Generally speaking, the stiffer the sole, the higher the price. In entry level MTB shoes you’ll usually see a softer nylon sole. When you go up a bit in price range, you’ll start to see carbon reinforced soles for added stiffness, so you get better power transfer. High-end mountain bike shoes usually have a full carbon sole. Carbon soles are both stiffer and lighter than the other options, but they tend to be the most expensive option.
Another thing to consider when it comes to the soles is the grip of the sole. Some shoe manufacturers achieve better grip by adding rubber components that increase friction. Other shoes have a soft sole that will allow the pins to grab into the sole and add tons of grip.
Some mountain shoes come with a meshed panel that adds tons of ventilation. The downside of shoes with meshed panels is that they are often harder to clean. If you suffer from hot feet, make sure to be on the lookout for shoes with good ventilation. If your feet keep getting hot, remember that sometimes it’s a fit problem and another model or size can suit your feet better.
If you want to ride in colder weather, lots of ventilation can be a disadvantage. To find the right shoe for colder temperatures, avoid the most ventilated shoes as they often feel too cold. Some types of vents, like vents in the sole, will often let in too much cold air even when using an overshoe and will not be suited for colder weather.
Many mountain bike shoes are made of water-resistant materials such as synthetic leather. A few have fully weatherproof uppers made of a waterproof material such as Gore-tex. However, most mountain bike shoes won’t handle really wet weather. A good way to avoid getting soaked when it’s pouring is to use a bike shoe cover. Bike shoe covers are great for those rainy or cold days when you need some additional protection.
Best Mountain Bike Shoes Reviewed
Best XC Mountain Bike Shoes 2019: Giro Empire VR90
The Giro Empire VR90 is a lightweight clipless mountain bike shoe made of leather. It has a stiff Easton Carbon sole that will transfer all the energy to the pedals. This means you’re going to get a considerable upgrade in speed if you combine it with a good pair of mountain bike pedals.
Giro seems to have focused on keeping down the weight and make a truly lightweight shoe. It has almost no padding and it has laces to adjust the fit. Having laces makes the shoes lightweight, but you won’t be able to adjust the fit on-the-go.
These shoes have a nice, sleek look and will fit most riders. Just be aware that this is a quite narrow shoe. It’s a perfect choice for mountain bikers with narrow feet. However, if you have wide feet, it might be too narrow for you.
The lightweight design, combined with the excellent power transfer makes it a perfect mountain bike shoe for cross country mountain bikers.
It’s still a good shoe for trails, but if you are charging hard downhill, you might want a shoe that offers a bit more protection. This is a shoe with more focus on keeping it light and comfy and has less protection than pure downhill mountain biking shoes.
|Stiff sole for excellent power transmission|
|Perfect option for narrow feet|
|Not suited for narrow feet|
|No on-the-fly adjustments|
Best Enduro Mountain Bike Shoes: Shimano SH-ME7
Shimano is a brand that is known for its reliable and long-lasting products.
The Shimano SH-ME7 is Shimano’s top of the line mountain bike shoe for trail and enduro mountain bike riders.
On first look, it might look like a heavy mountain bike shoe, but with a weight of 1 pound (455g), it’s on the lighter side of mountain bike shoes.
It’ a stiff but comfortable shoe with a well-thought-out design. The stiffness is well spread out and goes all the way from the front to the back of the shoe. The upper has an asymmetrical cuff to protect the ankle bones. The sturdy heel box holds the heel in place so it doesn’t lift so you can avoid blisters. It has good protection on the front and the heel of the shoe but not much on the sides to keep weight down.
The soles were designed in conjunction with Michelin, famous for manufacturing tires. They have an aggressive tread pattern for maximum grip. If you are riding and face unrideable terrain, these shoes will give you excellent grip even off the bike.
These shoes provide good grip in wet and muddy conditions. It has some water resistance, but this is not a waterproof shoe. If you get soaked, they tend to take some time to dry up.
Mountain bike riders, that ride in warmer climates will love these shoes due to the excellent ventilation. The Shimano SH-ME7 has a large vent on top of each foot. The meshed neoprene panel over the toes will provide enough ventilation to tackle even the hottest days. The downside of the excellent ventilation is they are quite chilly for autumn or winter riding.
|Durable and reliable|
|Grippy sole even in muddy or slippery conditions|
|Takes time to dry after getting soaked|
|Too much ventilation for winter riding without shoe covers|
The All-Around Choice: Giro Cylinder S
If you are looking for a comfortable mountain bike shoe that can handle all types of mountain bike riding, then a fantastic all-around option is the Giro Cylinder S.
This MTB shoe has a synthetic upper and an outsole made of rubber and nylon for added durability and grip. For added durability, it has been reinforced in the front and heel areas. These shoes grip good enough and are great both on and off the bike. With a weight of around 1.3 pounds for a size 11, it’s not the most lightweight mountain bike shoe out there but still light enough for most mountain bike riders.
The fit is snug and can be a little bit tight for people with wide feet. This is especially true in the women’s model.
The thing that makes the Giro Cylinder S stand out compared to many other mountain bike shoes on this list is the closure system. You close the shoes with the BOA L6. It works by a single dial and a strap that once adjusted you can set and forget. Once adjusted, you can very easily step into the shoes and hit the trails.
The BOA has 1mm adjustments to fine-tune fit, and it’s easy to adjust the fit on-the-go. Another great feature of the closures is the macro release function that will help you get out of the shoes quickly.
|Easy to unclip and easy to adjust|
|Women’s model has narrow fit|
Best Flat Mountain Bike Shoes: Five Ten Men’s Freerider Pro Bike Shoes
If you feel like flat mountain bike shoes are the better choice for you, then the best bang for the buck is the Five Ten Men’s Freerider Pro Bike Shoes.
This shoe is the updated version of the legendary Addidas Freerider shoe. It has better toe protection and dries quicker than its predecessor.
It’s a versatile choice that will suit most riders.
The outsole is the Full S1 Dotty Outsole in the men’s model and the Stealth Phantom Outsole in the Women’s model. Both are durable outsoles that will give excellent grip. This shoe has far better grip than an ordinary skate shoe. It has a nice blend of grip and freedom. It stays on the pedals, but it’s also easy to get off if needed.
It will protect you from light rain or mud, but if it gets soaked, it takes a long time to dry, and there are no large vents to get the water out of the shoe.
It has padding in all the right places and can handle an impact so you won’t end up hurting your foot.
The toebox is pretty roomy, but it’s still too narrow to be used as anything other than a bike shoe.
The biggest downside of the Five Ten MTB shoe is the poor breathability. It’s breathable enough to handle most weather, but if you are riding in hot weather or have intense tempo, they tend to get warm.
The Women’s model of the shoe is very similar to the men’s model but has a tighter heel pocket.
As for sizing, most people find these to be true to size, but some feel they are on the smaller side. If you are in-between sizes, consider going up in size.
|Can handle the force of impacts|
|Slow to dry|
|Not very breatheable|
|Women’s model on the narrower side|
Best Budget Mountain Bike Shoes: Venzo Mountain Shoes
If a low price is your biggest priority go for the Venzo Mountain bike shoes. There are cheaper shoes out there but none that provide as good value as these budget mountain bike shoes.
This cheap clipless mountain bike shoe is made of a synthetic upper and comes with a pair of pedals. It’s nice they included pedals for the clipless shoes, but the pedals have some issues. These are not the quality pedals you would buy at a bike shop that last for years. A reviewer saw them wore down after just 300 miles. They won’t clip in on both sides and are weighted in a way that the flat side is on top so it can be hard to clip in. However, it’s not the pedals that should be the reason to get these shoes.
The shoes have outstanding value. They are made in in the same factory in Taiwan as the Shimano shoes and are durable and has a breathable mesh that will keep your feet cold.
With of fit with plenty of room it fits most feet except those with really narrow feet. They weigh 1.41 lbs (640g) for size 10.5. This means it’s heavier than the rest of the shoes on the list, but that’s something you have to be prepared for with the lower price. Another drawback to be aware of is that these shoes are not very comfortable to walk with.
These shoes are a great way to try clipless shoes without breaking the bank.
|Nice bang for the buck|
|Good for cheap first venture into clipless shoes|
|Comes with both shoes, cleats and pedals|
|Uncomfortable to walk with|
|Included pedals are not the best quality|
When choosing the best mountain bike shoes, you’ll have to make tons of considerations, and it’s often hard as a beginner to make the right choice.
Luckily, your at the right place. This buying guide has shown you how to know if you need flat or clipless shoes. It also showed you some features to look out for and what to think about depending on your riding style.
We have after extensive research and many considerations narrowed it down to the five best mountain bike shoes 2019.
Different people will love different mountain bike shoes. Cross country riders will enjoy the low weight and excellent power transmission of the Giro Empire VR90. Enduro riders will love the durability and ventilation of the Shimano SH-ME7. Those of you that prefer flat mountain bike shoes will love the comfortable fit and grip of the Five Tne MTB Shoes.
Our aim with this guide was to show the best mountain bike shoes for every type of mountain bike rider. We hope that you’ll love the feeling, pedal efficiency, and protection of the right mountain bike shoe as much as we do.