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A Guide to Mountain Biking Shoes

A Guide To Mountain Bike Shoes

Mountain bike shoes are designed to be tough enough to withstand the challenging terrain of off-road riding.

When riding off-road, it is is more likely that you will have to get your foot on the ground for grip or even get off your bike and push.
For this reason mountain bike shoes have soles that are stiff enough for efficient pedalling but are more flexible than road cycling shoes, this in turn makes walking in them much easier.
 

Clipless or Flat Pedals?

 
The flat pedal is the one of the most popular types of pedal to come equipped, as standard, on a mountain bike.

Flat Mountain Bike pedals

These pedals have large platforms with pins, or a raised profile, to stick into the rubber sole of a shoe and keep them connected.
 
Flat pedal shoes work best with this kind of pedal and feature a soft rubber compound to maximise grip.
 
Another kind of mountain bike pedal is the clipped in variety or 'clipless' as it is sometimes confusingly known. More information on why they are know as this can be found on our general cycling shoe guide.

Clipped In Mountain Bike Shoes

The system uses cleats fixed to the bottom of your shoe, these then fit into compatible pedal clips, holding them in place.
 
The shoes that are compatible with clipless pedals have a cleat recess in the grippy tread where you can mount your cleat.
 
The choice between the different kinds of pedal and compatible shoes is generally down to personal preference and driven by the kind of riding you do.
 
A good place to start as a beginner, would probably be on flat pedal shoes.

Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoe

These will allow you to get off the bike much quicker than if you were clipped in, should things get sketchy on the trail.
 
Then when you get more skilled on the bike you could progress to clipless shoes and pedals.
 
This said it this is not always the case.
Some riders will prefer to stay on flat pedals, as they can give you an extra point of control, when riding more aggressively, allowing you to get your feet down on the ground in the corners.
 

Mountain Bike Shoe Materials

 
Most mountain bike shoes are made out of durable fabrics that are more capable at taking whatever the off-road terrain throws at them.
 
They use fabrics that are water repellent and are shaped in a way to provide protection from the elements.

Mountain bike shoes use various systems to keep them fastened tight and on your feet.

Options include outdoor sports style laces, like the kind you'll find on your running shoes or walking boots.
Velcro straps and buckles. Or a combination of both laces and straps, for extra security when things get wet and muddy.

Another fastening system seen on some mountain bike shoes is a twisting dial, popular on road cycling shoes, that winds the laces in and locks them tightly in place.
 

Mountain Bike Shoe Breathability

 
The majority of mountain biking shoes have some form of ventilation on them.
This can be in the form of mesh panels throughout the shoe or air holes punched in the shoe panels.

Mountain Bike Shoe Ventilation

The ventilation not only prevents your feet from getting too hot but it also allows any water that has managed to get in the shoe, an exit.
 
Due to the nature of mountain biking and the general areas where you might be riding, there is a high chance you will be coming into contact with mud and water so these features are very beneficial.
 
Hopefully this guide will give you a brief insight into the options when it comes to mountain biking shoes and helps you to find the right shoe for you.

If you think you'd rather keep to the roads when your out on riding then we have a guide to road cycling shoes too.

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