Best mountain-bike shoe

Footwear

The right equipment makes all the difference in your mountain-biking technique, so check out these MTB shoes to learn the best options.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which mountain-bike shoe is best?

Deciding on the best pair of mountain-biking shoes may take some testing. Not only are there a lot of options available — all differing in price, quality and intended purpose — but your personal preferences impact your best MTB shoe. Whether you’re going with flat-pedal shoes or clipless shoes; whether you’re an endurance rider or cross-country biker; whether you’re a beginner or expert, you may need to experiment to find the best shoes for you.

Start on the right foot by checking out the top choice MTB shoes, LakeMX332 Wide Mountain Bike Shoe.

What to know before you buy mountain-bike shoes

Biking goals

Your goals with mountain biking determine the best gear for you. Just like you need a different mountain bike for various terrain or goals, you also may prefer specific shoes. If you only ride once or twice a year, you can get away with more affordable, lower-quality MTB shoes while regular riders will need something durable and effective. The terrain should also impact your decision. Harsh, rocky mountains require a heavy-duty shoe that may not be necessary on gentle, cross-country rides. 

Shoe type 

There are different types of MTB shoes depending on the nature of your ride. While many of them can be used for different riding styles, they are all designed for specific purposes. The most common types are trail or enduro shoes, cross-country shoes and flat pedal shoes. 

  • Trail and enduro shoes are designed to hold up against aggressive terrain. They have rigid soles but are not so stiff that you can’t walk your bike through difficult paths. 
  • Cross-country shoes are made for speed. They look a lot like road cycling shoes. 
  • Flat pedal shoes are meant to hold onto your pedals while letting you effortlessly place a foot on the ground in case things get rough. 

When in doubt, test it out

Technically, you can do your mountain biking with any normal shoe in your closet, but an MTB shoe will improve your performance. The main benefits of MTB shoes are extra foot protection, as well as increased grip, durability and longevity through rough rides. If you aren’t sure what your biking goals are or what type of shoe will suit you best, try on several types to feel out what fits most satisfactorily. For extra power, go with a stiff sole. For enhanced comfort, go with something flexible. 

What to look for in a quality mountain-bike shoe

Fit

Whatever MTB shoe you settle on, make sure they fit correctly. If your shoe is uncomfortable — either because it’s too large or too small — then it will inhibit your mountain biking rather than improve it. Check sizing charts before purchasing your shoe. If possible, you should try the shoes on before your purchase to guarantee a quality fit. Some stiffness is normal but beware of areas that dig into your foot or ankle since these will become increasingly uncomfortable throughout a ride.

The sole

The sole of a mountain-bike shoe is one of the key determinants for how that shoe will perform. A stiff sole transfers extra power while pedaling and is especially helpful for clipless pedals. The stiffness can provide added protection for your feet. If you plan on leisurely, cross-country rides, then you may prefer something that has a lightweight, comfy sole. The tread is also important. While some offer little tread — which is more lightweight and great for racing — others offer more tread to make walking your bike easier.

Retention system

This term refers to how your MTB shoes stay on. While traditional shoes use laces, MTB shoes often come with other closure options. Some have laces, offering the user a lot of control when adjusting fit. Unfortunately, laces are difficult to adjust out on a trail, especially if they’re coated in mud, and they can get trapped in a bike chain. Hook-and-loop straps or ratchet buckles are common for riders covering hilly terrain, though they do add weight to your shoes. You also have the option of a lightweight BOA system. This uses a dial and looped wire for quick, accurate closures and easy adjustments when out on the trails.

How much you can expect to spend on a mountain-bike shoe

Beginners may be satisfied with a $50-$100 mountain-biking shoe. Most experienced professionals spend $150-$500 on a quality shoe.

Mountain-bike shoe FAQ

What makes mountain-biking shoes unique?

A. Mountain biking shoes are designed to protect your feet, provide more power to the pedal and give extra grip to keep your feet secure. They are made to endure the intensity of mountain biking.

Can you use running shoes for mountain biking?

A. Technically, yes, though you will be better off with a proper MTB shoe. Many beginners prefer to use their trail running shoes for mountain biking as they adjust to the sport. Running shoes can offer support for low-impact riding but aren’t ideal for intense terrain.

What’s the best mountain-bike shoe to buy?

Top mountain-bike shoe

LakeMX332 Wide Mountain Bike Shoe

LakeMX332 Wide Mountain Bike Shoe

What you need to know: If you want a high-quality pair of MTB shoes with BOA dials, a lightweight sole and toe spikes for all conditions, this pair will do you good.

What you’ll love: A carbon fiber heel cup provides a firm fit for your foot. The lightweight carbon sole transfers optimal power. Dual BOA closures give you the freedom to find your perfect tension. The leather material gives durability and comfort.

What you should consider: These shoes are a bit pricey and can be too intense for beginner mountain bikers.

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry

Top mountain bike shoe for the money

Tommaso Montagna 100, 200, Elite Men's Mountain Bike MTB Indoor Cycling Shoe

Tommaso Montagna 100, 200, Elite Men’s Mountain Bike MTB Indoor Cycling Shoe

What you need to know: If you require an affordable pair of MTB shoes with straps and a comfy fit, this elite pair has everything you’re searching for.

What you’ll love: Blending comfort and performance, these MTB shoes provide a great fit. Get the most out of your pedal strokes thanks to the fiberglass-reinforced sole. Three straps allow you to adjust the fit to suit your preferences. 

What you should consider: Some users were disappointed with the treads on these shoes, saying they are unsuitable without cleats and are difficult to walk in.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Crank BrothersMallet Lace Mountain Bike Shoe

Crank BrothersMallet Lace Mountain Bike Shoe

What you need to know: These shoes are great for any riding scene, including the jump park, cross-country trips or enduro rides.

What you’ll love: Designed to last, these shoes are lightweight and perfectly sticky to keep your rides powerful and smooth. The midsole is enhanced to fit large bike pedals and the outsole is made to grip steep hiking terrain whenever walking is necessary. The secure lace closure keeps the foot snug in the shoe. 

What you should consider: The laces on these shoes could end up caked in mud on rougher rides.

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Abbey Ryan writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.

Most Popular