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How Do I Choose the Best MTB Shoes for Me?

Finding suitable shoes for mountain biking isn’t easy, as there are so many different models for each MTB sport. The biggest difference with mountain bike shoes is that they’re available with and without cleat support – as mountain bike shoes for clipless pedals or flat pedals (platform pedals). To find your ideal MTB shoes for men or women at BIKE24, you first need to know what you are using them for and your individual requirements. Read more

What distinguishes MTB shoes from sports or other bike shoes?

MTB shoes are special bike shoes for different types of mountain biking. Unlike classic road bike shoes, designed solely for bike performance, MTB shoes for men and women also need to be suitable for walking. They also need to be reasonably comfortable, as you may have to get off and push your mountain bike on difficult terrain or longer tours. The outsole should therefore offer some flexibility. The appropriate tread should also provide sufficient grip. So, depending on use and personal preferences, there is a varied choice of mountain bike shoes.

Typical decision criteria for mountain bike shoes

As already mentioned, the principle difference between MTB shoes is whether they can accommodate cleats or not.

Clipless MTB shoes with mounted cleats click into the appropriate bike pedals, giving you a firmer hold on the pedal. The Shimano SPD system is the most common standard for MTB clipless pedals, allowing you to set the release tension via the spring preload, deciding how firm or loose you want the connection with your mountain bike. As with many other pedal systems, SPD lets you increase or reduce lateral mobility via the chosen cleats. But you don’t have to consider this when choosing your MTB shoes for men or women.

Conversely, mountain bike shoes without cleat support have a regular outsole. The main difference from regular shoes is their greater stiffness and an outsole with special tread in a rubber compound, giving excellent grip. This allows the mountain bike shoe and the pins on the flat pedals to really lock (bite) into each other, for a reliable foothold in spite of the "loose" connection with the pedal. Another benefit: if you’re about to fall, your feet reach the ground much faster than with clipless mountain bike shoes.

Winter MTB shoes keep your feet warm and dry

In addition to bike socks, winter MTB shoes can be a real salvation on cold days. A special membrane makes most winter MTB shoes waterproof, protecting you from the wet in rain and snow. Because you often have to cope with slushy, icy and slippery ground in the winter season, extra-grip soles are hugely important with this type of shoe. Another special feature of winter MTB shoes is that ‒ unlike regular MTB shoes ‒ they cover the ankles, keeping the sensitive ankle joint warm.

What you should consider when buying mountain bike shoes

As you‘re probably aware, the choice of MTB shoes for men and women is massive. So, you need to be fairly clear about the type of application you actually have in mind for your mountain bike shoes.

The fit is different between men’s and women’s MTB shoes, and some manufacturers offer a wider version of some models. Like running shoes, mountain bike shoes mustn’t press at the sides and your toes shouldn’t push into the tip of the shoe. Feet need room because they slip forwards when going downhill.

Looking at the shoe’s size table will help you find the ideal MTB shoe.

To make your decision easier, you should answer these questions before you buy your MTB shoes:

  • Are you looking for mountain bike shoes for clipless or platform pedals?
  • What are your requirements for the shoe outsole and tread?
  • What’s your main objective: comfort on extended tours or maximum power transfer in a lightweight and rigid MTB shoe?
  • What closure system do you prefer: laces, hook and loops, ratchet or twist closures?
  • Must the mountain bike shoes have good ventilation or even be waterproof and insulated?
  • And finally: how should the shoe look and are you after a particular colour?